Are we ever, at any other moment, more like Jesus Christ our Savior than when we are able to love and show concern for the very people injuring us?
Perhaps the most famous kiss in modern history is the sailor kissing a nurse. The scene was 1945 in Time Square. The announcement that WWII was officially over had just been announced. People flooded the streets in celebration. Caught up in the euphoria, one sailor randomly embraced a woman dressed in a nurses uniform and kissed her. Miraculously a Time Magazine photographer captured the moment, making it perhaps one of the most famous kisses in modern history.
Today’s sermon brings us to an older kiss, and one more famous. This kiss is not the kiss of jubilation, or of devotion and friendship. Rather this kiss is the famous Kiss of Judas, the Kiss of Betrayal.
Two days earlier Judas secretly met with the Jewish leaders and collaborated with them to hand Jesus over. For his part in this plot they paid him 30 silver coins. The next two days Judas went along as usual with Jesus and the disciples, but he secretly watched for a chance to make his move. Then it happened during the Passover meal. He left early to get the posse that was going to round up Jesus. While he was gone, Jesus and the disciples left the Upper Room and went to the Garden of Gethsemane. On the way Jesus informed the remaining 11 that they would all abandon Him. In the Garden, Jesus prayed alone while His disciples slept. Upon finishing His prayer, the sound of Judas and the posse could be heard approaching. And thus we arrive to our text for today.
(Maybe a point of application can be drawn right away: If you are bent on sin then Satan will be more than accommodating. Your opportunity will come. Of course, we see throughout Scripture that God will allow people to do what sin they are bent on doing. So, God will permit you, and, Satan will orchestrate your opportunity.)
Let’s go through 4 headings: Signal, Sword, Scriptures, Scatter
#1: THE SIGNAL (43-6)
First is the Signal. Judas arranged a signal, verses 43-36.
Why did Judas arrange a signal? Also, why did he choose a kiss as the signal? To answer the first question seems easy enough: the soldiers needed a way to know for sure which of the 12 men was Jesus, especially since it was dark. Add to that the chaos and confusion of the large group. Think about it: wouldn’t they have been embarrassed if they got back to the leaders, yanked off the head covering and there was a disciple instead of Jesus? So, Judas needed to verify which man was Jesus so the soldiers knew which one to arrest.
But of all the ways to signal, why did he choose a kiss? He could have just walked up and pointed to Jesus. But he didn’t. He chose a kiss. He chose to use a gesture of friendship. The word “kiss” in verse 44 is “phileo”, brotherly affection. The word “kissed” in 45 is “kataphileo”, adding intensity. Like a fervent kiss of fellowship. This is not a kiss of romantic love, this is common affection in the ancient east, a kiss.
Why? Maybe Judas thought he could fool Jesus by acting like a friend and then acting surprised and indignant when the soldiers immediately arrested Him. Or maybe he thought he could fool the disciples. My opinion is that Judas didn’t know how to be anything but a pretender. He was a thief who secretly stole from the ministry finances. He followed Jesus because he had high hopes for himself when Jesus came into power. Judas never heeded the most fundamental element of being a disciple of Jesus: “you must deny yourself”. Judas didn’t deny himself – he served himself. Jesus was simply a means to get what he wanted, and when he realized Jesus was serious about dying, and continuing to follow Him was a “losing” deal, he went and made a deal with the Jews. If following Jesus wasn’t going to pay, there was money in betraying Him.
Early in his ministry Jesus said, “You cannot serve both God and money”, and I have to wonder if Jesus looked at Judas in that moment. I have to wonder if Judas felt exposed in that moment, like Jesus knew he was stealing.
Judas was a fraud. He always pretended. He was just so used to living a life of lies and fakery. He had never been who people thought he was. He was always a hypocrite. So what else could he be in this moment? This most hypocritical moment of his life? What other kind of kiss could he give but a kiss of betrayal?
Warning: It is not intense displays of affection for Jesus that prove devotion to Jesus. It is obedience. It is self-denial. It is faith. It is humility and righteousness. Don’t let some worked-up enthusiasm over Jesus be the basis for your sense of being right with Jesus. The human heart is deceptively wicked. The flesh loves fake spirituality.
You can kiss Jesus with betrayal or you can kiss Him with worship. The Greek word for worship actually means to kiss the feet of.
#2: THE SWORDS (47)
After the signal, we have the sword. Verse 47… Over in John we’re informed that Peter was the Musketeer. John also tells us that Malchus was the name of the soldier whose ear was cut off. What Mark doesn’t tell us, but the other 3 Gospels do, is that Jesus miraculously healed the ear of Malchus. So the soldiers see Judas kiss Jesus, they reach out and grab Jesus, Peter, always quick to act, even before thinking, draws his sword and before he knows it Malchus’ ear is laying on the ground with blood everywhere. Matthew, Luke and John tell us Jesus rebuked Peter and the other disciples, “Put away your swords, whoever lives by the sword will die by the sword. Don’t you think I can call on my Father and at once have a legion of angels to rescue me?” Let me draw out two things: one related to Peter, and one related to Malchus
First, Peter’s defense of Jesus while noble and brave, was also misguided. It shows he still did not understand the plan. He did not want Jesus to die. He wasn’t going to argue with Jesus anymore about it, that was for sure. But, if Jesus was going to die, Peter was going to die with him. Now, think about this. Peter declared he would die with Jesus. Jesus told him that he was going to abandon him and deny him 3 times that very night. Peter would go down swinging.
And that is the problem. Peter thought there were only two options: running away to leave Jesus alone to fight his enemies, or, stay and fight the enemies with Jesus. But Peter didn’t see the 3rd way. He knew he wasn’t going to run and leave Jesus. He knew he would fight for Jesus and die trying. And I believe Peter would have. But when Jesus squashed this option, forbidding Peter from fighting, Peter didn’t know what to do. Jesus had eliminated the only path Peter thought he had: fighting. But there was a 3rd way, and that 3rd way was not one Peter had even thought of. It certainly was not an option he had or ever would consider taking.
What was that 3rd way? Submit to the enemy. Let them take you. Resisting the enemy here was actually resisting the plan of God. Jesus even says to his enemies: “This is your hour, where darkness reigns.” Who designated it as their hour? Who permitted darkness to reign in this hour? When Peter said “I will die with you if I have to” he meant he would die fighting the enemy. But it was not even in Peter’s univers of possibilities to submit to the hands of the enemy. I believe when Jesus stifled his fighting spirit, Peter was confused, didn’t know what to do, and so he ran away scared. He was willing to go unwillingly to his death. But he wasn’t willing to go willingly to death along with Jesus.
Application: There will come a time when we have to submit to the enemies of Christ. There will come a time, ordained by God and designed by His wisdom for His purposes, that suffering for the name of Jesus is God’s will for us. Echoing Ecclesiastes we can say, under heaven there is a time for everything, including a time to fight and a time to surrender.
What I draw your attention to secondly is Malchus, the soldier who had his ear cut off by Peter. Why do I call attention to him? Because that’s who Jesus’ attention is on in this moment. Jesus heals him. Are we paying attention to Jesus? How much more “other-people’s-well-being-focused” can you get? The man who laid hands on Him to arrest Him, and was injured in the process, Jesus compassionately healed. Ignoring the shouting and the shoving happening all around, Jesus focused on the injury of His enemy. In a short while He would be heard praying for the very men who were driving nails through His body.
Are we ever, at any other moment, more like Jesus Christ our Savior than when we are able to love, and show concern for the very people injuring us? Who is driving nails through you with their words? Who is kissing you with betrayal? Who is laying hands on your life and causing fear, harm and distress? Do you retaliate? Do you store up bitterness?
Polycarp prepared a meal for his captors…….
The police and horsemen came with the young man at suppertime on the Friday with their usual weapons, as if coming out against a robber. That evening, they found him lying down in the upper room of a cottage. He could have escaped but he refused saying, “God’s will be done.” When he heard that they had come, he went down and spoke with them. They were amazed at his age and steadfastness, and some of them said. “Why did we go to so much trouble to capture a man like this?” Immediately he called for food and drink for them, and asked for an hour to pray uninterrupted. They agreed, and he stood and prayed, so full of the grace of God, that he could not stop for two hours. The men were astounded and many of them regretted coming to arrest such a godly and venerable an old man.
Because of Jesus we too can be like Jesus, not losing our ability to show concern and compassion for even our enemies.
“Do not repay evil for evil. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for GOd’s wrath, for it is written, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay says the Lord. On the contrary, If your enemy is hungry feed him; if he is thirsty give him something to drink; in doing this you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” Rom 12:17-21
#3: THE SCRIPTURES (48-9)
The next point is “The Scriptures”, and we read verses 48-49, “….” In Matthew, Jesus rebukes the disciples for resisting and asks, “How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled?” In Luke, Jesus turns to his captors and says, “Now then, this is your hour, the hour when darkness reigns.” In other words, the Scriptures foretold this hour of darkness.
Jesus faced the end of His ministry the same way He started: with the Scriptures. When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, Jesus responded with Scripture. Now at his arrest He shows again how the Scriptures still are guiding Him. Everyday Jesus allowed only one thing to inform His attitude, His perspective, His actions: the word of God.
Is there a lesson in that for us? We too must approach every day having our minds shaped by God’s Word.
The result will be that we see everything- everything – is happening by the plans of our Almighty God. The diagnosis. The problem at work. The President. Nothing happens without God’s knowing about it beforehand, and, nothing happens that God doesn’t either directly bring about or permit to happen. Men are only actors on a stage in the play that God had already scripted.
Now this is the very feature that makes the Word of God utterly unique: It tells the future. It has “scripted” what will happen in the future. No other religious book even begins to compare on this point. This is one way in which God shows us that the Bible is in fact from Him. Since no man can tell the future, and only God can, then when a book is packed full with all sorts of prophecies and many of them have come true already, then the only logical, the only sane conclusion is that it must be from God.
The effect of knowing this is peace of mind. You can “Be still and know that God is God.” It changes your outlook and your attitude when you know that what God has said will happen will in fact happen. So much of what He has said has already happened, as He declared to the Israelites – that He is the God who foretold and fulfilled:
“Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass.”
If He’s already made good on so many prophecies, you know He’s good for the rest of them. He makes that awesome declaration in Numbers 23: “I am not a man that I should lie nor the son of man that I should change my mind. When I speak, I act, and when I promise, I fulfill”
Secondly, Scriptures enable us to submit. Can you see how submitted Jesus was? “And being found in appearance as a man”, Philippians 2 says, “he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.” The reason Jesus was “able” to be submissive was because He was confident in Scripture. Isaiah 53 prophesied: “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” Peter, the very one rebuked by Jesus for resisting in this moment, would remember the example of Jesus as a Lamb that night, when he wrote his first epistle. Turn to 1 Peter 2:19-23 and follow along with me.
Jesus was submissive because He was conscious of what was in Scripture. Notice the contrast between Jesus and His own disciples in this very moment: He was submitted, they fought. The difference was Jesus knew what the Scriptures said but they didn’t. Not that they didn’t hear it from him over and over and over again. They didn’t know because they never accepted it. Take careful note here of the difference between how Jesus faces this persecution and how His disciples face it. Then remember only one of them was conscious of and confident in the Scripture.
#4: THE SCATTERING (50-2)
Finally, we come to the scattering, read verses 50-52, “….” Jesus was kissed with betrayal. Now He is kissed goodbye. Jesus said they would scatter, and they did. They argued and said they wouldn’t scatter. But they did. The words keep echoing over us: “The Scriptures must be fulfilled.”
The weakness of our flesh. Our flesh is that part of us that is not of Christ. It is that part of us that is part of our old man, connected with Adam, fallen and corrupted. It’s that part of us that wants nothing to do with God, making us rebel against Him, making us go our own way wanting to be in charge of ourselves. Its that part of us that is strong when it comes to sin, but is weak when it comes to righteousness. It loves sin and hates righteousness. It exalts self, and suppresses God. When the disciples made all their bold declarations to Jesus that they would never abandon Him and they would go to their deaths to follow Him – that all came from the flesh. It was puffing themselves up. Their flesh was deceiving them, making them think they were that devoted, making them completely blind to their utter weakness, making them full of confidence IN THEMSELVES and thus tricking them so they didnt see that they must put no confidence in the flesh, and instead in teh Word of God. They must put no confidence in their ability, because they have no ability to do anything to please God, and instead they needed to remember Jesus told them, “Apart from Me you can do nothing; With many this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Everything they were trying to do they were trying to do in their own strength on their own for God. And, yet, when the hour of darkness finally came, they proved what they all by themselves were made of. They did the very thing they said they would not do: they abandoned Jesus.
The life lived for Christ must first be a life that is born by the power of Christ. You must be born again into a new life before you can begin to live for Christ. If you try to live for CHrsit but you have not been given new life, you are merely trying to live for Him without Him. You are merely trying to get that life by living it. But teh Bible says you have to get that life first, He gives it to you, its a gift, simply and merely to be received. Once you have it then you go and begin to live in that new life the kind of life that is devoted to Jesus and pleases Him. Once you come into new life you live that new life by daily dying. Dying to yourself so that new Christ-life in you can come out. The new life is lived by dying every day to self.
That is why the only thing the disciples could do in this moment was abandon Jesus. Everything they had been doing and failing to do was leading them to fail in this very moment. Isn’t it true for us too, that our “Big” failures , if we look back, we can see how everything was leading up to those big failures. The same thing with the disciples. They never submitted to God’s plans – they would never accept it when He said He must die. They were obsessed with their own glory – Luke tells us that at the Passover meal they argued over who would be greatest in the kingdom. They overestimated themselves in thinking they were so loyal and brave that they would go to their deaths to follow him. They were prayerless – in the Garden they slept when they should have been praying. They didn’t know God’s word, they didn’t accept God’s plans, they didn’t humbly see their weakness, they had grand plans for themselves, they had weak prayer lives….so when the Test came, the Critical Moment… they were in no way ready for it. So they scattered like rabbits.
Faithfulness in the Big tests happens because of faithfulness in the little everyday tests. The everyday little tests are how we train ourselves to see how worthy Jesus is in every instance of our lives. In temptation, He is more worthy. In fear, He is more worthy. When I keep choosing faithfulness to Him everyday in every little way, I am training myself to continually think that in every way Jesus is worth more than what I’m facing. So when a gun comes to my head, when a sword is at my neck, I choose Jesus. I find it hard to imagine a Christian who thinks it worthy to lose their job for Christ when that same Christian hasn’t found it worthy to go to Church for Christ. I can’t imagine a Christian who continually gives in to some sin, who doesn’t gather with believers at church to worship and hear the word, who hasn’t picked up a bible since he can’t remember when, who doesn’t pray, who basically lives for his or herself, that that Christian if a gun were put to their head and they were told to recant Jesus they would instead say “Pull the trigger.” If Jesus was not worth living for in the smaller every day ways then that person has trained themselves to We train for the “big” tests by faithfulness in the frequent small tests. Regularly practicing prayer, learning more about God’s word, practicing forgiveness and practicing confession, staying sensitive to your own faults and how God is growing you in them, gathering with believers will strengthen you to be faithful. Anyone who is compromising on all these can not expect in a big test to be faithful. I’m optimistic that many here are faithful in small everyday ways. Yet I fear too that among us are some who do not take daily faithfulness serious.
Conclusion: The Kiss
Did you know that the word in the Greek for worship means “to kiss the feet of”? We kiss the feet of Jesus.
Is there something today you’ve heard that convicts you?