Yeshua: Rabbi or Lord?
Have you ever found yourself upset with Judas Iscariot after reading the gospel accounts? I mean, the guy literally betrayed Yeshua into the hands of the Romans – with a kiss nonetheless.
I have wondered how Judas could have possibly betrayed the Savior. He was a disciple! He was one of 12 men who got to spend more time with Yeshua than anyone else. They got to pray with Him, they got to eat with Him, they got to have deep, personal conversations with Him, and they even got to be around Him when He slept. Judas was privileged to be around Yeshua during His three and a half years of ministry on Earth.
How could he be deceived into betraying God’s only Son for 30 pieces of silver?
A big clue lies in Matthew’s record of the Last Supper. In Matthew 26 the disciples are all sitting around the table with Yeshua as they enjoy the Passover meal. This is the night before Yeshua’s death. As Messiah shares many revelations and insights with them throughout the meal, He takes a moment to talk about His betrayal and how it would come from one of them.
One after another the disciples around the table ask, “Is it I, Lord?” “Surely, it isn’t me, Lord.” “Am I the one, Lord?” Each one of them deny that they could commit so great a sin as betraying their Lord. Lastly, in Matthew 26:25, Judas asks the same question each of the other disciples had asked — only it wasn’t the same. He asks, “Is it I, Rabbi?”
If you didn’t immediately catch the difference, take note of the title with which Judas chooses to address the Messiah in comparison to the rest of the disciples. Rather than calling Yeshua “Lord,” he calls Him “Rabbi.”
In first century Israel, to be called “rabbi” was a great thing. It was an incredibly honorary title given to those who were great teachers and scholars of the Torah. But, there were many rabbis walking around Israel during the time of Yeshua. Calling Yeshua “rabbi” wasn’t wrong because He is the greatest Rabbi. But, it gives us insight into Judas’ heart and the way he viewed the Messiah.
The title of “Lord” is one that denotes full authority and ownership. Comparatively, you can have many teachers in your life, but you can only have one “Lord.” Judas’ problem was not that he didn’t see Yeshua as a great teacher, performer of miracles, or even the Son of God. Judas’ problem was that he didn’t see Yeshua as his personal Lord.
We can rightly address Yeshua in many ways, like our Healer, our Savior, and even our Rabbi. But may we never forget to address Him ultimately as our Lord.