And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Truly I say to you, One of you which eats with me shall betray me.…
I. LOOK AT THE QUESTION, "Lord, is it I?"
II. LOOK AT THIS QUESTION IN CONNECTION WITH THE REMARK THAT CALLED IT FORTH. What did Judas sell Christ for? The old German story reports that the astrologer Faustus sold his soul to the evil one for twenty-four years of earthly happiness. What was the bargain in this case? The auctioneer had tempting lists to show; what was it that tempted Judas? He sold his Lord for thirty somethings. What things? Thirty years of right over all the earth, with all the trees of the forests, all the fowls of the mountains, and the cattle upon a thousand hills? For thirty armies? Or thirty fleets? Thirty stars? Thirty centuries of power, to reign majestically on hell's burning throne? No, for thirty shillings!
III. LOOK AT THE QUESTION IN CONNECTION WITH THE SIMPLE UNSUSPECTING BROTHERLINESS IT REVEALED IN THOSE TO WHOM IT WAS SPOKEN. When Christ's declaration was made. "One of you shall betray Me," it would not have been wonderful, judging by a common standard, if such words as these had passed through various minds — "It is Judas; I always thought him the black sheep of the fold; I never liked his grasp of that bag; I never liked the mystery of that missing cash; I never liked the look of him; I never liked his fussy whisper." No such thoughts were in open or secret circulation. The disciples already exemplified the principle, and carried in their hearts the Divine music of the language, "Love suffereth long, and is kind....is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." With lips that were tremulous, and cheeks that were blanched, each one said, not, "Lord, is it he?" but, "Lord, is it I?"
IV. LOOK AT THIS QUESTION IN CONNECTION WITH THE FEAR FOR HIMSELF, SHOWN BY EVERY ONE WHO ASKED IT. A preacher in a certain village church once gave easy lessons in Christian ethics through a scheme of illustration taken from the letters of the alphabet. Rebuking his hearers for their readiness to speak evil of their neighbours, he said that, regarding each letter of the alphabet as the initial letter of a name, they had something to say against all the letters, with one exception. His homily was to this effect. "You say, A lies, B steals, C swears, D drinks, F brags, G goes into a passion, H gets into debt. The letter I is the only one of which you have nothing to say." No rustics can require such elementary education more than do some keen leaders of society. Pitiless detectors of sin in others, begin at home. Think first of that which is represented by the letter I. It is a necessary word, for you can never get beyond it, never do without it, while you live, or when you die. It is a deep word, for who can sound the sea of its deep significance? It is an important word, for of all words which can lighten us with their flash, or startle us with their blow, there is no more important" word to us than this. Who is there? "I." Who are you? Conjure up this mystery — this "you," symbolized by the letter "I." Face it, speak to it, challenge it, and know if all is right with it. If indeed you can say, "I am a Christian"; "I believe, help, Lord, mine unbelief;" "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me;" still you feel that two natures for the present war within you, and have need to offer 's prayer, "Lord, deliver me from the wicked man, myself." When the wind is rising, and the waves are treacherous, it is good for each man to look to his own ship, to his own ropes, to his own sails; not first to stand and speculate on the seaworthiness of other ships.
V. LOOK AT THIS QUESTION IN CONNECTION WITH THE LOVE THAT WORKED IN THE HEART OF THE QUESTIONER. Not one of them ever knew before how much he loved his Lord, but this shock brought the love out.
VI. LOOK AT THIS QUESTION IN CONNECTION WITH THE ANSWER TO IT. "Thou hast said." You can read what is on the open page, Jesus can look through the lids of the book, and read off the sheet — in print. You can see the whited sepulchre; He can see the skeleton within. You can see the fair appearance, He can see the wolf under the borrowed fleece. You can see the body, He can see the soul. Now the secret had come to light, as one day all secrets will.
VII. LOOK AT THIS QUESTION IN OTHER POSSIBLE APPLICATIONS. "One of you will go out of this place a lost spirit." "Lord, is it I?" "One of you, having refused the Divine love before, will refuse it again!" "Lord, is it I?" "One of you will go out with a harder heart than when he came in." "Lord, is it I?" "One of you, a waverer now, will be a waverer still." "Lord, is it I?" "One of you, now almost persuaded to be a Christian, will still remain only almost persuaded." "Lord, is it I?" "One of you, already a true disciple, will refuse, as you have refused before, to confess your faith!" "Lord, is it I?" Let us think, on the other hand, of certain happy possibilities in the fair use of these words. There will come a time, beyond what we now call time, when, in the rapture of immortality, and in the language of heaven, you will say, "Have I in reality come through death? Am I on the other side? Can it be that I am glorified at last? This, so wonderful beyond language to express, so bright beyond the most enchanted fancy to picture, what is it? Is it solid? Or is it a glory of dreamland? I used to sin, I used to be slow, I used to be weary, I used to have dim eyes, and dull ears! Now I see! Now I love! Now I can fly like the light! Lord, is it I?"
(Charles Stanford, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me.