Anglican Morning Devotion for 23 January 2022 Anno Domini
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover. 20Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. 21And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. 22And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I? 23And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.
(Matthew 26:19-23; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
The heart of man is like the waters of the ocean deep – the ship on the wave cannot discern the depth and meaning of that which lurks there beneath unseen. It is true that God looks upon the heart to know its secrets, but man can only judge by outward appearance. As the Lord said to Samuel: “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
We cannot determine the motive in the action of others except by the evidence we can feebly observe. We do not see the thoughts of the heart of others; but, we can neither even know our own thoughts and motives without a sure reliance upon the Word of God and the Holy Spirit to cast light upon that Word for our understanding.
We can see, from the introductory text above, that none of the disciples knew if the Lord referred to them, or to another. When Jesus proclaimed “one of you shall betray me!” each disciple asked, “Lord, is it I?” Of course, there was one at the table who knew for certain of whom the Lord spoke, yet, he also at the last asked, “Is it I?” “Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? Matt 26:25 (KJV) Judas did not ask out of real curiosity for he had already accepted the thirty pieces of silver in his betrayal – his inquiry was apparently voiced to determine if the Lord knew of the evil secret hidden in his heart.
There are two prominent verses in the Bible that warn against placing our trust in man: “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” (Psalms 118:8) – the very center verse of the Bible; and “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) We can observe in the response of the disciples to that fateful declaration of Christ that we cannot even well know our own hearts let alone the hearts of others.
Please avoid the parlor gossip of those who claim Judas was somehow innocent of wrong-doing – that he was forced to betray the Lord and therefore was spared the fires of Hell. “The Son of man goeth as it is written of Him, but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It had been good for that man if he had not been born.” (Matthew 26:24) The Lord knew the heart of Judas long before He called him for his sordid act: “Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? 71He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.” (John 6:70-71) Judas would receive his just deserts since all born of woman are deserving the fires of Hell unless quickened to life by the grace-imbuing call of the Holy Ghost. Judas was a greedy fellow who sought the reward of this world in filthy lucre and political power. When Mary of Bethany anointed the feet of Jesus with expensive ointment for His coming burial, listen to the rebuke of Judas: “Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, 5Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 6This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.” (John 12:4-6)
It is interesting to note that the betrayal of our Lord is foreshadowed in the Psalms: “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. 10But thou, O LORD, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them.” (Psalms 41:8-10)
It is enlightening as well to note the actions of Judas once the Lord gave to him the sop: “He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.” (John 13:30) Judas went out into an eternal night for he saw not another sunrise. By the dawning of the next day, Judas had hanged himself. It is profitable to know that all who depart from the Lord will suffer that outer darkness from which no man can escape. Many have betrayed the Lord by word, thought, and deed. “Lord, is it I?”