“Rabbi” vs. “Lord” from the Mouth of Judas

In the two places where Judas addresses Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, Judas calls him “Rabbi.”

  • 26:25, Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”
  • 26:49-50, And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.”

This title is woefully inadequate, especially given all that Judas has heard Jesus say and seen him do. At the Last Supper scene, the other disciples called Jesus “Lord” (Matt. 26:22). But Judas didn’t use the title “Lord.” When his turn came, he said “Rabbi.”

The use of “Rabbi” shows the spiritual distance of Judas from Jesus. Is that title really the best he could do?

Jesus had driven out demons, healed paralytics, fed thousands with some bread and fish, walked on water, stilled a storm at sea, and made the blind see. After witnessing all these miracles and more, and after three years of ministry with Jesus, the word Judas decides to use is “Rabbi.”

The Words of Judas in the Gospel of Matthew

While each Gospel reports that Jesus had twelve disciples, we only know a few of the things they said. In Matthew we hear the voice of Judas four times, in 26:15; 26:25; 26:49; 27:4.

  • “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” (26:15)
  • “Is it I, Rabbi?” (26:25)
  • “Greetings, Rabbi!” (26:49)
  • “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” (27:4)

Let’s observe some features of these lines from the mouth of Judas.

  1. The first two lines are questions, and the last two lines are statements.
  2. The middle two lines both use the title “Rabbi.”
  3. The middle two lines are both directed at Jesus.
  4. The first and last lines are both directed at the chief priests.
  5. Each line is associated in some way with Jesus’ betrayal.
  6. The first line results in Judas receiving thirty pieces of silver, while the last line results in Judas giving back the money.

Notice anything else?