Surely Not I, Rabbi?

Judas, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, was filled with information about Jesus, but he proved to have never truly been transformed by Jesus. In Matthew 26, Judas admitted with his own words that he had never been transformed. 

When evening came, He was reclining at the table with the Twelve. While they were eating, He said, “I assure you: One of you will betray Me.” Deeply distressed, each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?” He replied, “The one who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl–he will betray Me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Then Judas, His betrayer, replied, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” “You have said it,” He told him (Matthew 26:20-25).

Jesus told Judas, “You have said it. You have just admitted that you’re the one who will betray me, the one who is not truly my disciple.”

What did Judas say?

Notice the language in the passage. The other eleven disciples responded to Jesus’ statement that a betrayer is among them with, “Surely not I, Lord?” They were far from perfect. They, like us, were broken men in need of Jesus. But Jesus had conquered their hearts; He was their Lord.

Judas responded very differently: “Surely not I, Rabbi?” To Judas, Jesus was a Teacher he respected, a great model and example he learned from, but Jesus was not the Lord of his life. Judas never surrendered his will to Jesus. Judas was informed but never transformed.

Judas knew all about Jesus. He heard every sermon Jesus preached. He personally saw Jesus confront the religious and welcome sinners. Judas saw Jesus put light into the eyes of blind men, tell paralyzed men to pick up their mats and walk, raise children from the dead, heal lepers, and cast out demons. He saw first hand the power and love of God perfectly displayed in Jesus. He knew much about Christ, but Judas did not personally know Christ.

Judas learned from Jesus’ teaching, but never allowed Jesus’ teaching to transform him. And Jesus would not be Judas’ Savior because He was not Judas’ Lord. A.W. Tozer wrote:

The Lord will not save those whom He cannot command. He will not divide His offices. You cannot believe on a half-Christ. We take Him for what He is – the anointed Savior and Lord . . . He would not be who He is if He saved . . . us without the understanding that He can also guide and control our lives.

Is Jesus merely our Rabbi—the One we look to for advice and counsel in how to live our lives? Or is Jesus our Lord—the One who rules and reigns in our hearts? The difference is mammoth.