Matthew 26:22: "Is it I, Lord?"
In Jesus' last meal with His disciples, Jesus made the astonishing, politically incorrect, too blunt, non-positive (dare I say... negative?) statement that one of His chosen ones would actually sell Him out, turn Him in to the authorities - they'd betray Him! He had been blunt with them before about the consequence of His trip to Jerusalem (for example, Luke 10:32-34), and Peter had even argued with Jesus about it (Matt. 16:21-23). But here, in the moment, Jesus states again that one of those closest to Him would turn their back on Him.
I can only imagine what Jesus was feeling then... Seeing clearly the awful condition of mankind (and feeling it in the lives of the ones who walked with Him)... knowing the hideous price that had to be paid, and maybe - just maybe - a little ticked that one in whom He had invested so much would turn aside.
This isn't really what's been haunting me about this story, though. It's those three words spoken by disciples startled by the severity of the statement. "Is it I?"
Maybe I'm like the disciples - caught up in the moment with things other than the Lord's immediate concern in mind, and the possibility (or probability) of me betraying Jesus slaps me in the face as well. Maybe the going will get hard. Maybe we'll have a setback. Maybe Jesus will be under attack, and I won't have the guts to stand up for Him. Mark 8:38 isn't in most people's Jesus Person's Pocket Promise Book.
Here's what hit me: I need to ask this question of myself a lot more. I am really sad about the "state of the church" these days... some deep disappointments in local church. I've said often that no institution promises so much, and provides experientially so little as the local church. I can't be one of those guys who feels like we're doing "great things for God" just because we've sponsored a World Vision family from a distance, or had a golf outing, or we've "studied" yet another John Ortberg book. (Don't get me started - that's another post!). And even worse, if somebody asks me what I think, I tell them! I guess I didn't get the memo telling me to just shut up and pretend that everything's ok. ("...and now, I am happy all the day" - what is that??)
I think it's good - even healthy - to have your eyes open and think critically (in the discerning sense of the word). But sometimes, for me, that's a trap. The "church" betrays Jesus every single day... and the words of these poor fishermen hit me when I read them. Matthew and Mark record that "they were very sorrowful": Ah, DUH! It's easy for me to see their need, but this is the question I've asked myself each night before I've gone out for business dinners these past few weeks; people betray Jesus each day - by omission and by commission. The most pressing question for me is this: "Is it I?"
May God increasingly give me eyes to see - not just the dross for refining "out there", but the sad truth that I'm just as likely as Judas on any given day to betray my Savior. Lord, let me see the problem clearly - especially the ones in me.
So that's what I'm asking myself after midnight in Tokyo. "Is it I, Lord?"
By His grace, not today, and I'm trusting for tomorrow, too.