Is It I?
There were four sad and grievous things that the Apostles did on the very night of the first Lordís Supper. Before the Supper one betrayed the Lord. After the Supper, all the rest of the Apostles were offended because of Him; one denied Him; and some fell asleep when Jesus needed them most.
We are encouraged in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to:
ďExamine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?Ē
And in 2 Peter 1:10, Peter tells us:
ďWherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
In preparation for the Lordís Supper, it is good for the church to make examination of our own hearts, and also of the church as a whole. In order to do this, we want to examine these four things that the apostles did on the night of the first Lordís Supper. To each of these things we would all do well to ask ourselves: Is it I?
1. First, Judas betrayed the Lord (verses 21-25):
In this case, to betray means to deliver up, or to give over, especially for the purpose of putting in prison.
This seems to be the worst of all crimes that a professing believer can commit against the Lord. Only Judas betrayed Jesus in this manner, by delivering Jesus to be condemned and crucified. Yet I do believe that professing believers can betray the Lord today.
Down through the history of the Lordís Church, many have betrayed preachers and even whole churches into the hands of their Catholic or protestant persecutors. Today there are still those who would persecute preachers and churches, who would have their properties and church buildings confiscated, and turn over the Lordís people to be tortured and martyred, if they only had the opportunity. Beloved, please understand that these things are being done in foreign lands today, where religious liberty is not protected like it is in the United States.
Today people betray the Lord when they forsake the church, and go out from the church, and abandon its teachings. They once confessed Christ, and were baptized, and joined the church, but as in the case of the stony ground hearer in the parable of the sower, by and by they are offended. They have no depth of earth, and therefore they were never saved. Or they were like the seed that fell among thorns, and they were choked out by the cares of this world. Such was Judas Iscariot.
After they leave the church, they become enemies of the church. They speak evil of the preacher and the members, and the doctrines of the church. They usually do one of two things. They either find a false church that preaches another gospel, which denies the sovereign grace of God in salvation, or they return to the world, like a pig to the mire, or a dog to its own vomit.
What is a personís motive for betraying the Lord? Well, Judas betrayed the Lord for 30 pieces of silver. But there was more to it than that. You see, Judas held the bag of money for the church. He was very concerned about the money. In fact, he became obsessed with money. The problem with Judas was, he supposed that ďgain was godlinessĒ, and he was never truly saved. And when he finally realized that he wasnít going to get wealthy off of the church and the ministry of Jesus, he decided it was time to cash in his chips. Woe unto all those who join with the Lordís Church for monetary or other worldly reasons. They are bound to be disgruntled, and to betray the Lord.
Well, is it I that has betrayed Jesus? No, beloved, I donít think that we have any Judases among us. I trust that we all passed this first part of the examination.
2. Secondly, all the disciples were offended because of Jesus (verse 31, 55-57).
What is meant by being offended because of Jesus? It means that they forsook Him for fear of the Jews, and persecution because of their association with Jesus.
Today in America we donít have much fear of persecution because of Jesus and His Church. We can only imagine how that we would react if we were threatened with persecution. Have you ever wondered how you would react if you were threatened with losing your home and property, or your job because of Jesus and His Church. How about if you were threatened with torture or martyrdom for the cause of Jesus.
Would we run away? Would we quit serving the Lord? Would we quit attending His Church? Well, we wonít know how we would respond to persecution until the time comes. We might all be like Peter, and say ďthough I should die with thee, yet will I not deny theeĒ. Iím sure that Peter meant what he said. We may have good intentions of being faithful unto death, yet we donít know if we will be until weíre faced with death.
This was a common problem of the early churches, especially the church at Rome in the third century. When persecution came on the church, many people fled and forsook the church. But when persecutions subsided, these people wanted to come back to the church. Many of the faithful members of the church didnít think that those who forsook the church should be allowed back into the church. This was one of the main factors contributing to the split of the church of Rome. Those unfaithful people who forsook the church, along with their sympathizers in the church, split off to form what later became the Roman Catholic Church. The faithful believers remained the true church at Rome, until at last they were driven out by persecution.
Perhaps there are other ways that we might be offended because of Jesus today. Maybe the way is too narrow for some. Perhaps some have reckoned that Christianity would not cost them anything. Perhaps when we counted the cost of discipleship, some failed to factor in Christian service, which involves work and labor for the Lord. Maybe we thought that to be a Christian meant to always be on the receiving end of the blessings of God, and never on the giving end. Maybe we didnít realize that true Christianity required sacrifice on our part.
Well, these are some ways that we might be offended because of Jesus in America today. This was also the case of the stony ground hearers. Because of affliction and persecution for the Wordís sake, they were offended. The case of the thorny ground hearers was also very similar. In this case, the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches, and various lusts choked the Word and they became unfruitful. Professing Christians who will not sacrifice their riches, and the cares of this life, and their many worldly lusts and ambitions, will soon become offended because of Jesus.
Well, how did we fare on this part of the examination? Is it I who is offended because of Jesus? Beloved, we all have probably been offended because of the Lord in some way. All the disciples were! But may we repent of that sin, like the disciples did, and get back in fellowship with the Lord, and serve the Lord in His Church with our whole heart and life.
3. Thirdly, Peter denied the Lord (verses 33-35).
To deny the Lord in the case of Peter, was to pretend that he didnít know the Lord. We likewise, can deny the Lord by pretending that we donít know Him.
Do the people we work with, or go to school with, or associate with in the world know that we are Christians? Or, are we ashamed to confess His Name before men. This is denying the Lord. Or, do we conveniently not tell others that we are Christians, when doing so might cost us our position in this world, or our place of favor? This also is denying the Lord. Or, like Peter, do we deny knowing the Lord because of the fear of man? Are we afraid of what men might think, or say, or do to us?
Professing Christians can also deny Jesus by their wicked works.
Titus 1:16† They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
There are many professors of religion today, who claim to know the grace of God in salvation, yet deny the Lord by their immoral and ungodly works, and by their disobedience to the Lord, and by the total absence of good, godly works in their lives.
Such people deny the Lord by their bad testimonies of Christianity. People donít see Christ and His works in their lives, but rather they see the devil and his works. This is probably the worst possible way that professing believers can deny the Lord.
To deny the Lord is dangerous ground for a professing Christian to be on. Paul said:
2 Timothy 2:12† If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
Jesus Himself said:
Matthew 10:33† But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Mark 8:38† Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
Well, did we pass this part of the examination. Is it I who has denied the Lord? May the Lord help us not to deny Him, but rather to confess Jesus before the world, both in our words, and in our works. If we have denied Him, then may we repent of that sin like Peter did, and ask the Lord to forgive us.
4. Fourthly and finally, some of the Apostles fell asleep when Jesus needed them most (Verses 36-43).
The disciples literally fell asleep there in the garden of Gethsemane, on that dark dreary night. All the powers of hell, as it were, had been tempting our Lord to abandon His work of redemption on the cross of Calvary, and to forsake His love for His people, and to by-pass the pain and suffering of the cross.
And while the fierce temptations assailed upon our Lord, His three preferred disciples, Peter, James, and John, were all fast asleep. They could not stay awake one hour to watch and pray during this difficult trial that their Lord was going through!
How is it with us tonight? While iniquity abounds in these last days, and the love of God waxes cold over this spiritually dark world of sin, are we asleep? Like the ten virgins, have our lamps gone out, and have we nodded off in sleep? Have we been inebriated by the pleasures and lusts of that enchanted ground, that lies just before yon celestial city. Shall we fall short of reaching that city because we are spiritually asleep? No, beloved, may we take heed to the Scriptures:
Romans 13:11† And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
Ephesians 5:14† Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
May the Lord help His Church to awake from her sleep! These are cold, dark, and indifferent times, beloved. Like Jesus, His Churches are being tempted on every front to abandon our mission, and to forsake our love for Jesus and for His Church. Awake, children of God, and return unto the fray. May God help us to get back into the battle of the Lord, and serve Him faithfully in His Church.
Well, did we pass this last part of the examination? Is it I who am spiritually asleep in the service of the Lord? My prayer is that the Lord will awake every one of us, and revive us again to do His work at Calvary Baptist Church.