Spirit & Truth # 223
“Lord, Is It I?”
By Rev. Greg Smith
Sometimes the questions we ask in life become more important than the statements we make. We want to be definitive; we want to show others how sure we are, but too often when we try to prove we have the answers, we don’t allow ourselves to ask the hard questions. The life of Judas is full of mysteries that may never be unraveled. Yet even as it lacks answers, it leads us to one of the ultimate questions of life.
One question that surrounds Judas is that of his last name. Many good scholars suggest that “Iscariot” means “Man of Kerioth,” a town that once existed but is now lost to archaeologists. Others posit that the name comes from a group that went by the Latin moniker “Sicarii,” or “Dagger-men.” These assassins were Jewish zealots who loved to slip into a crowd and slip a knife between the ribs of Roman officials. Could Jesus have called such a man as a disciple? Well, He did call another disciple named Simon the Zealot, and He did call Matthew the tax collector. Paul the Apostle had blood on his hands, as did Moses, so why not Judas?
Another question we have regarding Judas is that of his motivation. Some say that he was spurred on by political motivations—that he wanted to force Jesus into a situation where He would have to become a military Messiah. Others cite his greed as a motivation, quoting John 12:6, which says, “he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.” Still others remember Luke 22:3, “And Satan entered into Judas.” Maybe all of these motivated Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. We may never know.
Many wonder where is today. Some say he was doomed to hell because of his betrayal. Others say that his remorse, his returning of the blood money, and his subsequent suicide are all indications of repentance. For that reason, they say, he may be in heaven. This is countered by some, whose doctrine states that all who commit suicide go to hell. We won’t know the answer to this question until we reach our final destination.
With all of these good questions, though, there is only one that is essential for us. It is the question asked by all the disciples when Jesus announced that one of them would betray Him. Matthew 26:22 (KJV) says, “And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?” This is the central question of every follower of Christ. Lord, when have I betrayed you? When have I denied you? When have I run away? Every time we sin, we are guilty of betraying our Lord. As Lent concludes and we look forward to the season of Easter, let us take our sin seriously. Instead of pointing a finger at Judas, let’s point the finger at ourselves. “Lord, is it I?” we ask. Perhaps that’s the most important question of all.