Tag Archives: Rabbi

What God Gave Up for Lent – Day 31

31. A Question, a Confession


Now when evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples. As they were eating, He said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.” Being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?” And He answered, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me. The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Jesus said* to him, “You have said it yourself.” (Matthew 26:20-25)

Put yourself around that table with Jesus and the disciples. We find the disciples completely taken over by who was going to betray Christ; each asking: Surely not I Lord? And I have to ask myself that question: Surely not I, Lord?

The answer, unfortunately, is yes; I have betrayed my Lord and my God. My sins have been forgiven and paid for, and yet still I sin. I have wisdom and understanding, have even been given the mind of Christ; yet I continue to choose foolishly. I even have the Spirit of God living within me; yet I carry on as if my old nature alone lives within me. When faced with this question, I am forced to answer yes—I betrayed Christ.

So what must I do? I join with the Apostle Paul in this confession: Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom 7:24-8:1)

I will give thanks for what Christ has done. I will rejoice that I am in Him. I will continue to be conformed in His image, continue to be transformed. I will choose to follow Him, serve Him, and make decisions that are according to His holiness and righteousness.

It should be noted that Judas’s question was different: “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” There is a huge disconnect between Lord and Rabbi.

The Greek word for Lord is kurios, which is most often used for God’s name. The disciples even in this desperate moment acknowledge Christ’s divinity.

Rabbi on the other hand is a Hebrew word which means master or teacher, and it is a title which was used for Christ and other religious leaders. There is no equating with God in this title, no name of God, and no divinity within its confession. Was Judas unable to make the transition from Christ being a great teacher, certainly one worth following, to falling before Christ and proclaiming that He is God?

Perhaps this should be called the Judas Effect. So many people are willing to recognize Christ as a great teacher, but few will confess Him as Lord and Savior. Who is Christ to you?

Singing with the King (44) – A Psalm of Extremes (3)

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:11-12

The past couple of weeks we’ve considered the extremes illustrated in the Psalm. The Rabbi4distance between heaven and earth as an illustration of how great God’s mercy is. And the distance between east and west, an illustration of how far God has removed our sin from us.

But when I read this Psalm, I think about a story…

Once upon a time…

There was this old rabbi who had been serving his congregation at the synagogue in Cana for nearly 30 years. Every week he conducted worship on the Sabbath. He had started a school to teach the children to read and write, and to learn and obey the Law and the Prophets. And he loved music—he loved to sing (and to teach) the Psalms.

A couple of years back, a young Rabbi came through and spoke—he had such authority, and he even healed some people in his congregation. There had been talk he may have been Messiah, but then he got entangled with the Pharisees and the Romans down in Jerusalem, and a few months ago, He was crucified. Well, life goes on, and so does the Sabbath.

One Sabbath service they were singing Psalm 103, and he decided to teach on part of it. He opened the scroll and read: For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. And to make the point, He raised his arm, pointing to the Heavens, then slowly lowered it down to the earth. Then he read the next passage: As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. And to make his point again, he raised him arm, and traced a line from east to west. And then he froze.

empty cross2

For he just realized, he had traced a cross. A cross where heaven’s mercy came down to earth; a cross which removed our sins. The cross of Jesus. And as he stood there frozen, his hand still pointing to the west, he realized Yeshua was Messiah. And so he must teach his congregation.

 Like I said, this is just an illustration, a little story. But take your hand, and trace the line of lovingkindness from heaven to earth. Then trace the line of sins removed, from east to west. You just traced the cross of Christ.