13 Jun 2011

Newfound Humility

Religious 9 Comments

No, I’m not referring to a deflation of my excessive ego. What I mean is that I have a newfound understanding of the humility of Jesus’ apostles at the Last Supper. Here is the passage in question:

20 When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve. 21 Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.”
22 And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?”

When I was younger, I thought this was ridiculous. They don’t know if they are going to betray Jesus?!

But on the road trip to Auburn today, I was flipping through the channels and listened for a bit to a sermon on this passage. The preacher pointed out that actually, this was a very humble thing for them to say. (At this point I am back to my words; I’m not paraphrasing the preacher.) They had been following Jesus around, and never really quite got the full impact of His words when He first said them. But the more wisdom He uttered–not to mention the growing number of miracles–the more they would have realized just how far above them He was.

So when Jesus says “one of you will betray Me,” the true apostle will know one of them will betray Him. That might seem inconceivable, but then again so did raising Lazarus from the dead.

Unfortunately, the apostles had apparently recovered their cocksure confidence later that evening:

31 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:

‘ I will strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’[d]

32 But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”
33 Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”
34 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”
35 Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”
And so said all the disciples.

Turns out Jesus knew what He was talking about.

9 Responses to “Newfound Humility”

  1. Luke says:

    Excellent post! The Apostles were definitely as human as you or I. The doubts, questions, and emotions that are seen in Christians today were seen in them even while they were in the presence of God.

  2. Kyle says:

    If you receive Birmingham radio you may be interested in WQOH 1480 AM. Great religious station!

  3. Joseph Fetz says:

    Most “assuredly” I am not a religious fellow, but what I read from this scripture is trust and friendship. Jesus was seeing that one of his “friends” was not what they had appeared to be, that one of them was not being honest and forthright with regard to their relationship to him. Did he know which one it would be? There is no way of knowing this. However, the rooster crow will always be that reminder to Peter to reaffirm his friendship to Jesus (he would never deny his allegiance). However, Jesus was not betrayed by Peter, rather he was betrayed by Judas.

    It has been a while since I have read the Bible, but it is my recollection that Judas was quite greedy, and looking out for his own concern; as if he only wanted to be a part of this group for his own gain. When the Apostles asked “who?”, they had no idea of what Jesus was talking about, and I think that that was the matter. That the one that Jesus spoke about would know exactly who he was, that they would do all that they could to conceal it, and that those that did not fall into that fold would stress over it to no end, and question their true friendship with Jesus, as well as with one another.

    From my own atheist perspective, I think what I take away from this story is that one must truly know who their real friends and associates are, that some are only using you for their own gain, and that when it comes down to the wire, it is those that you think are most close to you that will quickly turn against you for their own benefit. Loyalty in friendship is quite a rare commodity in both this world, as well as that in Jesus’ time.

    • Joseph Fetz says:

      With regard to Peter, that should read that “he would never deny his allegiance in the end”

  4. Major_Freedom says:

    The more humble your thoughts are relative to some reference point in your mind, the more your reference point has to be considered non-humble, and hence the more your mind has to contain non-humble thoughts about reality.

    “I’m humble, and the more humble I consider myself to be, the more I am absolutely certain (i.e. not humble) that Jesus/God/reality/etc is such and such, and nothing else.”

    It’s a mental contradiction. It’s like saying “I’m so stupid, so ignorant, so uninformed, so oblivious to the world around me, because I don’t know even a fraction of all that God knows, which is that reality is absolutely without a shadow of a doubt X, Y, Z like he says it is…”

    I think this is why the more humble a religious devotee becomes, the more non-humble must the God become. The religious devotee is trying to escape his own non-humbleness by collecting all his non-humble thoughts and filing them under what God and Jesus say about reality.

    Everyone one of us needs non-humble thoughts in order to make sense of the world. Ever hear some people say that humans can’t know anything about reality with absolute certainty? Well, that is making an absolutely certain claim about the efficacy, and hence nature, and hence reality, of the human mind, and hence it is an absolutely certain claim about something in reality, hence it is a self-contradiction.

    The same thing I think is present in religion. One can try to evade these requirements by personifying them into “It’s not me, it’s HIM!!!” but that is just seeking to evade the requirements of one’s own mind.

    Christianity, it seems, is a way for a person to appear humbling, to appear non-threatening, when deep down the ideology requires very non-humble convictions. One can’t claim to be humble if one claims to know with absolute certainty that Jesus/God said or did anything. This is probably why Christianity has been so successful. It appears non-threatening. It tells everyone that the believers are just questioning their own ideas about reality, but in a way that makes them have to trust their own ideas enough to be certain that others are wrong and that they are right about reality. It’s a way for “humble” people to gather together and scorch the Earth with non-humble convictions, telling people in effect: “Convert to our humbleness, or forever be tortured by our non-humble God!”

    Am I the only one who sees the self-contradictory hypocrisy here?

    • Joseph Fetz says:

      Just to make a small distinction, while I am an atheist, I have read most of the prominent religious texts (primarily Jewish and Eastern). And, while I think that these texts are interesting (to say the least), I also think that such works are highly metaphoric, and that they often leave quite a bit to interpretation. I often find more contradictions in the words of supposed “religious” persons than I do in the metaphorical text. But, I will give you this, when it comes to the Christian religion, there is definitely the contradiction that you speak of. You simply do not find the same contradiction in the Talmud or the Qu’ran, their interpretation of God isn’t a nice guy, that’s for sure.

      In my own life, I look at theism just the same as I look at statism, that the ultimate goal of humanity is to cast off these chains and use our reason to cooperate with one another and except life and its process. But, we are still young in our learning of our own consciousness, and a great many people need guidance over their reason; they still need these things for their waking life. I get it-I don’t agree with it- but I get it. Just as I know that a global stateless society will never occur in my life, I also know that religion will also be around for a while longer. I have no qualms with that, just so long as your religion does not interfere with my life or use its name in order to engage in mass murder, then I am completely cool with people believing what they want to believe; and I will believe what I want to believe.

      While I do not necessarily subscribe to the theory in full, I do notice that many people have a connection to their bicameral mind. I play musical instruments as my therapy and life-source, others use religion. In the end I think that we are all attempting to fill a certain void in our conscious lives that need fulfilling, and it just so happens that both come from the same parts of the brain. In the end, we are all just human.

      • Joseph Fetz says:

        Ok, maybe it wasn’t a “small” distinction.

  5. Thomas L. Knapp says:

    I think you assign too much depth to that first episode.

    The prophecy required that Jesus be betrayed. SOMEONE had to do it, but nobody wanted the job. In the event, Judas drew the short straw, begged that he not receive the assignment, but dutifully carried out on Jesus’ orders. He may have been the most loyal of the disciples.

    • RobertH says:

      Judas was in no way the most loyal of the disciples. He had every chance to repent as he watched the 2nd person of the Trinity perform miracles and save people left and right but his heart was always on fleshly matters. John 12:6 says, “He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.”

      Judas had the worst type of character going so low as to take money for poor but help himself to that very money. What fraud and deceit! His heart was as hard but he only has himself to blame for it, not because he drew some short straw.