“And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?” – Matthew 26:22
On the night that Jesus sat in the upper room with his disciples for the Last Supper, just hours before his arrest and eventual crucifixion, Christ predicted his own betrayal and pointed out that one of the men in that very room would be his betrayer. The disciples, perplexed, began to ask, “Is it I?”
Christians across the globe know with great detail the history of Jesus’ betrayal by Judas, his arrest, his long walk to Golgotha, his painful crucifixion — with nails piercing his feet and hands — his burial in the tomb and his emergence from that tomb as the resurrected Lord.
Today, on Easter Sunday, we celebrate the fact that he is risen and what it means to those who believe he truly is the resurrection and the life; and we hope on this day we all reflect on what the cross signifies in our hearts and how it can change our lives and, in turn, help us to change the lives of others.
As we reflect, we all should start, as the disciples did, by asking, “is it I?”
Too often we do the opposite, asking instead, “is it you?” Even more disturbing are the times when we immediately point fingers of blame at someone else and say “is it you?” blaming others for whatever might be going wrong in our community, our state, our nation and our world.
That’s us taking the moral high ground as if we, because of our stance on certain issues (particularly the hot button variety) have a far better grasp on how life should be lived than someone who thinks differently than we do or looks differently than we do.
But we should be asking, as the disciples did, “is it I?” Are we being judgmental? Are we failing to love our neighbors, no matter who that neighbor, might be, as Jesus commanded us to do? Are we caught up in worshipping idols like money, power, sex, political parties, sports teams or others? Do those things, or other forms of idolatry, compete for our allegiance?
This is the question, not simply for those fellows in that room long ago, but for anyone who believes in Christ. An Open Windows article written during the Easter season put it like this: “Like Judas we are tempted to forsake others for a temporary payday.”
What is our temporary payday? What is it we allow to win out over a compassionate heart and a willingness to be accepting of our neighbors without passing judgment on their looks, their lifestyle, their beliefs, their social status? How can we, as Christians, win them over if we don’t show them love rather than hate?
“Is it I,” we should ask ourselves, who is casting the first stone when so many of those stones could easily fall at our own feet.
For Christians, Easter and the days leading up to that wonderful day signify Christ dying on the cross for our sins and then rising from the grave to ascend into heaven where he reigns with God until that day when he returns to take all those who believe back with him.
If we believe in the Christ who showed love to Jews and Gentiles, beggars and thieves, harlots and outcasts, are we following his example or are we professing our faith while acting within our own self-righteous will?
“Is it I” who leads others toward a loving, peaceful society or “Is it I” who is turning away from the things Jesus taught even as we profess our faith?
Today, and every day, we should begin to ask the tough question. “Is it I?” and if it is, what am I doing to make the world a better place?