These thoughts were inspired by my Lent reading from the excellent book by Brother Ramon SSF…
The Golden Bowl (Cameroon) Jesusmafa.com
When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely not I, Lord?”
Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?”
Jesus answered, “You yourself have said it”
Matthew 26 verses 20-5 (NIV)
The disciples all ask, ‘Surely not I, Lord?’, the word ‘Lord’ indicating their close relationship to Jesus, to which his reply about sharing the dipping bowl is spoken to them all. There is a feeling of sadness, but deep friendship and you can imagine the background hum of chatting friends in the room. However, when Judas asks ‘Surely not I, Rabbi?’ where the word Rabbi is less personal, on the level of an instructor, Jesus answers: ‘You have said so.’ The scene now feels as if it is silent with the focus solely on Jesus and Judas. Even though they are still among the disciples the words between them feel much more personal – almost as if they are alone – with Jesus issuing a challenge.
We need to measure our lives against God’s word and as we do we will find things which challenge us to change the way we live. How do we reply? Can we use the word ‘Lord’, indicating close relationship, or do we find it easier to say ‘Rabbi’, the word used by a follower to a teacher? Sometimes it will be easy to say ‘Lord’, to which Jesus just lovingly reminds us that we are not perfect and can easily slip up.
At other times we can feel very personally challenged, where we need to look closely at how the issue affects our relationship with Jesus. We know when we are in that still place – as if it is just us and Jesus – with him looking at us straight in the eyes with his challenge. Judas still had a choice at the Last Supper table and by changing his intentions the word he used could have been ‘Lord’ rather than ‘Rabbi’. Jesus wants us to answer with the word of wholehearted commitment, ‘Lord’, signifying that, however difficult, we are willing to follow him and walk the hard way.
Learning to grow
Lord Jesus, Rabbi, Teacher
thank you for reminding us that
until we bring you our darkness
we cannot know your light;
that until we become the servants of truth
we cannot become wise leaders;
that until we are good listeners
we cannot speak with authority;
that until we become willing, lifelong learners
we cannot teach with insight or enthusiasm;
that until we are ready to be reborn
we cannot truly mature.
Kate Compston (from Women of Prayer: an anthology of everyday prayers from women around the world – complied by Dorothy M Stewart)