Humans love to impress other humans. Everyone has little things they do that ask for the attention of others.
I’m in a coffee shop right now, a place where odd behavior is always on parade. A suit-and-tie clad man is currently in here that has his guitar with him. He doesn’t intend to play it — he brought it in and propped it up in a corner, almost as if on display. The guitar itself features a signature and some other writing on the body that I can’t quite make out from where I’m sitting, but for some reason he also has a feather strapped on the head of the guitar. The man is clearly trying to make a statement — he is a musician. He wants you to know this.
It’s all the result of consciousness, really: we recognize that other people see us, and perhaps we’re too obsessed with the possibility that some other person is always watching us (which isn’t true, unless you’re Justin Bieber or the President), causing us to behave in strange ways. Ironically, the behavior that comes from being overly concerned about our image draws attention we really don’t want in the first place.
I believe there are plenty of genuine, sincere people out there, but everyone pretends a little bit, hoping to draw some favorable attention and help people believe we’re interesting or impressive.
It could be subtle things like the way we do our hair or what shirt we put on that morning, to entire personality facades we carry forth at our place of employment.
The disciples are no different when it comes to making an impression. When Jesus states very frankly that someone is going to betray Him, His disciples immediately become defensive.
“Is it I?” they ask. “Is it I, Lord?”
Why are they so concerned? Indeed, they’ve been following Jesus for years, and nothing has escaped His attention. They’re sincerely worried that they’ve failed to impress Him. Maybe it was their inability to heal, or maybe their argument about who’s the greatest rubbed Him the wrong way, both “errors” that Jesus addressed directly.
In fact, they would all betray Him to some degree soon afterward. And He knows this. But does He love them any less?
You could interpret the disciples’ reaction as a sign of a guilty conscience, that some behavioral trait or pattern has possibly prompted their Teacher to become wary of His followers.
But what they’ve asked is actually a healthy response.
None of us like to feel guilty. We’ll even live in complete denial to avoid it. But if there is one entity that we should live to please, it is the Lord.
Really, there is nothing more we can do to impress God. His work on the cross has expressed this. If we have the standing of “saved” through Jesus Christ, there is no more ground to make up. None. There’s nothing to worry about. We cannot make His love for us diminish, no matter how hard we try.
But a consciousness of impressing God with our daily lives, even in our thoughts, demonstrates that we are still concerned with showing Him our love. It is the fruit of our reformed hearts, the desire to do good and exercise self-control and dispense righteous justice through His work in us.
If you feel, like the disciples, that you have “betrayed Jesus,” and you’ve begun to ask, “Is it I, Lord?”, be encouraged today. He has not forsaken you, and He will never leave you.