When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”
They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?”
What’s your first reaction when you hear bad or sad news? If you’re like most people, if you’re like the disciples, your first thoughts and reaction are about yourself.
How does this affect me?
What does it mean for me?
What will happen to me?
Just think about what Jesus said for a minute. He’s just announced that he’s going to be betrayed. He’s going to be handed over to the enemy. And not to have a cup of coffee together either.
His whole life and future is going to be taken in an entirely different direction. Betrayal means arrest. Betrayal means torture. Betrayal means a trial. And as Jesus warned, it was going to lead to his death.
Now the disciples aren’t going to be arrested. They aren’t in danger of torture or trial. What Jesus says only effects one of them, the betrayer. Yet all of them start going on and on about themselves. They start defending themselves, denying that they are the one who will betray Jesus.
They’re worried about their reputation. They’re worried about what someone might think about them. How people will look at them. Think about them.
And not one of them says anything about Jesus. No one comes to comfort Jesus. No one thinks about Jesus. No one is worried about what this means for Jesus.
Their first, strong reaction is what’s in it for me? What impact will this have on me?
When there’s bad news, when there’s a storm, when there’s economic collapse, where do we turn? Who’s the first person we think about? What’s the priority?
It’s all about us. What one writer called it the Unholy Trinity: Me, Myself, and I. Our eyes point inward, all our attention and energy are directed at ourselves. It’s a life lived "inward" for ourselves rather than "outward" for God and others. It’s been like this from the beginning.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.
When sin first entered the world, it was self-centered. It was all about what the fruit could do for Eve and Adam. They turned their backs on the one who made them. The one who provided for them. The one who loved them.
And we do the same thing. Don’t we? Our natural tendency, our default setting is to be focused on ourselves. What’s going to satisfy us? What’s going to please us? What’s going to make me richer? More powerful?
If you’re like me, this is no news. It’s no revelation. From my earliest memories I’ve realized that I was entirely obsessed about myself. Now, when I was six, I wouldn’t have described myself with that word, but it described me to a T. I was looking to be happy. To please myself. To be more popular. To be the center of attention from all my adoring fans.
Yes, that’s who I was. And that’s who I am. Even now, my first reaction to anything is its impact on me. Or, as one writer put it, “What about me? What about me? What about me?”
This is where everyone in the whole world is. Everything you hate about this world and the people who live in it starts with our self-absorption. Being entirely focused on ourselves is at the root of who we are.
God saw us just like we are but didn’t turn his back on us. No, instead of turning away from us, or even running away from us, he came towards us. He ran towards us. He did what we could not do for ourselves, he paid the debt for all our selfishness. All our sin. He did it at the greatest cost imaginable, at the cost of his own son.
We betrayed him. We deserved the punishment. We deserve the guilty verdict. But in Jesus, God has made the payment. He made a way for us to get back to him and the way we were made to be.