Betrayed by a Kiss

Betrayed by a Kiss

“Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him’.”

Matthew 26:48

It’s a remarkable choice Judas makes. He knows exactly what he’s doing and he does it with cool calculation. “The one I kiss is the man: arrest him.” Judas is giving the orders. He is leading the temple guards into the garden and he chooses the method of betrayal: wait for my signal, he says.

The arrest could have gone down in different ways. Judas could have simply stepped close to Jesus and pointed to Him. Or he could have approached Him and lifted up Jesus’ hand, “This is the man.” There were different ways to go about it, but Judas chooses the most intimate, the most personal method he can think of – the kiss.

Judas strides forward in brazen boldness, greets Jesus and kisses Him – as if everything were normal! A kiss showed a person’s deep devotion – think of Aaron kissing Moses (Exodus 5:27), Moses his father-in- law (Exodus 18:7), Naomi her daughters-in-law (Ruth 1:9) , David his friend Jonathan (1 Samuel 20:41). Such kisses were displays of affection and emotion. It was not a hasty peck on the cheek but a close and warm embrace with a heartfelt kiss of love.

Do you see what Judas does here? He chooses the quintessential mark of love to betray his Master, and in doing so he showed his deep-seated hatred for Christ! The mockery of his kiss demonstrated how much he despised Jesus, who had only showed him love. Judas fulfills for Christ the words of Psalm 55: 20-21, “My companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant. His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords.”

This is the night of Satan’s greatest delight. This is the hour when darkness reigns, when Satan champions over his foe. The love of Christ is spurned and He is humiliated by a friend, by one who received more love from God’s Son than most. And now Christ is being captured, soon to face the chief priests. Satan couldn’t be happier! Everything is going as planned.

Christ is under his thumb. He has scattered Jesus’ disciples, ruined his ministry, and soon he’ll put an end to Jesus’ life. The crushing of Jesus is all but complete.

Except for one thing. It’s not much at first, but there’s something out of place in Satan’s victory. As Judas leans in to kiss Jesus, as the soldiers flash their swords to arrest Him, the Lord says to Judas, “Friend, do what you came for.”

It’s a strange, even disturbing thing to say, seeing that He is surrounded by soldiers. Jesus doesn’t beg for his life. Christ doesn’t question Judas about his motives – He’s known all along. Anyone else would have been filled with fear but Christ is filled with determination – do what you came for. Instead of resisting arrest, He urges it on! Get on with it! I’ve got work to do! Call your soldiers over to arrest me. Turn me over so that I can finish the work my Father called me to do! Friend, do what you came for!

It’s in these words we find out who is really in charge in the Garden of Gethsemane. Christ had earlier handed the bread dipped into the dish to Judas Iscariot

–Christ knew that He must travel this road, that He must be betrayed by one of the Twelve in order to suffer the consequences of our sin. Christ had to suffer the wrath of God in the severe testing of his faith, in the abandonment of friend and companion, in the forsakenness of his Father in heaven. And He wanted to do it!

Satan entered the Garden triumphantly, so sure that he was landing the crushing blow over Christ, only to hear Jesus whisper in his ear, “Friend, do what you came for.” I’m ready for it. I’ll suffer your rage. I’ll endure your hatred. I’ll bear up under something even worse – my own Father’s poured- out wrath upon me for the sins of the whole world. The devil would bruise his heel that night, but Christ would crush his head and win the victory!

And that’s the gospel of Good Friday, for Christ has done it. He was pierced because of our transgression, bruised for our sin. Judas did what he came for. Satan did what he came for. And through it all, Christ did what He came for – to bring salvation for you and for me.

Excerpt from Clarion, THE CANADIAN REFORMED MAGAZINE Volume 55, No. 7, pg. 164 March 31, 2006

Rev. P.H. Holtvlüwer is minister of the Spring Creek Canadian Reformed Church in Vineland, Ontario as of March 2016

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