“When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”
That last Passover meal before Jesus’s execution must have been disconcerting for the disciples. I imagine they were enjoying one another’s company while sharing the meal when Jesus told them He was going to be betrayed by one of them. The passage say this declaration made the disciples sad, but that sorrow was probably mixed with confusion, fear, and a desire to clear one’s own name. They all asked, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?” And while in this instance Jesus was talking specifically about Judas, later that night He goes on to correctly tell the rest that they’d all fall away from Him as well. And couldn’t this abandonment be seen as a form of betrayal as well? Despite their attempts to clear their own names after Jesus’s accusation of Judas, they all ended up as betrayers.
We can be so much like the other eleven disciples in this passage. We love to compare our sins to others’. We believe that if somebody’s sins are worse than ours (in our perception, at least), then surely we can’t be betraying God. And when sin is talked about in group settings, like during a sermon, we’re much better at thinking of others who embody than sin than looking inward and seeing that sin in ourselves. “Everyone else may be guilty of that,” we might think, “but surely not me.”
But salvation isn’t relative. We aren’t saved by being better than the other guy. Salvation comes only from God through Christ, and comparing sins doesn’t play a part one bit. When it comes to sin, we don’t have to clear our names, because Jesus already did that. Instead of saying “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord,” say, “even if it is me, thank you for your compassionate forgiveness, Lord.”
Loving Father, thank you for always forgiving us, even when You know we’ll fail You. Help us remember that we can’t hide our sinful nature and that we shouldn’t assume the worst sins are somebody else’s and not ours. Remind us that You’ve already cleared our names, and we don’t have to do that for ourselves. Amen.
Written by Preston Thiemann
Preston Thiemann and his wife, Rachel, live here in Lincoln. He is the Web Content Coordinator for the ASEM Marketing team at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, where he’s worked since April 2015. At Sheridan, he also plays guitar on the Praise Band and is active in Sheridan’s 20s & 30s ministry, Second Quarter. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, watching movies and spending time with friends.