It’s a theme used in many detective stories. The detective gathers all the suspects in one room and before he or she begins the explanation of the case that leads to the apprehension of the killer, she or he begins by saying something like “I’ve gathered you together today because I have discovered who the murderer is and one of you is the murderer.” The members of the group are at first surprised, and then they chatter, all proclaiming their innocence. Then the exposition begins with the detective explaining why each of the people there could be considered a suspect, but then ruling them out one at a time.
Shocking statements like that cause us to examine ourselves, “what evidence could he or she have against me?” and then wonder about others. We look at them with eyes of suspicion. “Which one of my friends would do something like that?” Jesus made one of those shocking statements at the Last Supper. He had just gone through the acts that we celebrate when we participate in communion when He startled the disciples: “’But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!’ They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this. A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.” (Luke 22:21-24)
The words of Jesus cut through the disciples like a sword. Even though Jesus had predicted that He would be betrayed many times, now He was making it real. It wouldn’t be an outsider who betrayed Him, it would be one of their own; someone sitting down to eat this celebratory meal with them. All of them, except Judas, knew that it wasn’t them. At least they hoped they wouldn’t betray Jesus unintentionally. The questions began. The suspicious looks. Each one protesting their innocence. And then, as they protested their innocence, the focus shifted. Someone played the opposite game. “One of us betray Jesus? That would be the worst thing that we could do. I’m not like that, I’m the best of us.” Well, that couldn’t go unanswered so a dispute arose as to who was the best. In the discussion, everyone forgot about the betrayal of Jesus because they wanted to be seen as the best. Sometime after Jesus’ statement, Judas slipped out to prepare his betrayal.
One of the problems we have as Christians today is that we are so worried about being the worst Christian that we get into blustering matches with Christians who have different viewpoints. “We” are right, “they” are wrong. (And, they’re wrong because they probably aren’t even Christians. They’re just trying to claim that.) Of course, “they” are thinking that “they” are right and “we” are wrong. (And “they wonder if “we’re” really Christians.) Just as Jesus stopped the arguments then, He would stop them today. He would remind us that our job isn’t to judge other Christians, our job is to minister and serve in His name. So, my brother, or my sister, even though you are probably wrong because you disagree with me, let us serve together in the name of Jesus. So, my sister, or my brother, even though I am wrong because I disagree with you, let us serve together in the name of Jesus. The actions remain the same whatever your political opinion may be: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, visit those in prison, care for the poor. You may not be able to do all of those things, but you can find ways to participate in some of those activities. Find a way to serve, and go serve.
Oh Lord, it is so easy to get involved in the problems of the world. I want to show others how “right” I am. Remind me that I am never right if I am not serving. Remind me that serving others is serving You, and that if I’m serving You, all those other things don’t really matter.