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The Power of a Kiss

The Arrest of Jesus

The scene has moved from the privacy of prayer and the relative quiet of the garden to the imposing noise of a crowd of nearly one thousand Roman soldiers, temple guards and religious rulers – all led by Judas, the traitor.
They were afraid of Jesus. They had seen the crowds around Him in the temple as He taught them. They had witnessed the adoration of the crowd calling Jesus a king. There were large crowds everywhere and the Romans were always concerned about an insurrection. They had already arrested Barrabbas at some point for leading an insurrection. They were not going to take chances with this Jesus.

Judas was a very busy man.

This was no easy task for Judas to summon all of these bodies from the time that he left the upper room until they all appeared together in the garden.
A Roman cohort is one sixth of a legion. A Roman legion was 6000 men, so this cohort would be roughly 600 soldiers carrying swords. In addition there were the temple guards who carried clubs. They did not have authority to take life, but the Roman soldiers did have that authority and were trained to use it when necessary.
There were also among this crowd the Sadducees who ran the temple. They were the ones who profited and had the most to lose from an insurrection.  Imagine their delight when Judas, an insider, offered them the opportunity to arrest Jesus away from the crowds. They were invested in the status quo and would not let a little thing like justice get in their way.
This crowd is not interested in justice. There has been no crime against the temple, against God, against Caesar or against Judaism. They were filled with fear and guilt and this led them to the cowardice of this injustice.
On a human level, they used their authority against a man who had healed thousands, fed thousands, cast out demons, taught the truth of God. From the perspective of Deity, they used the authority that God had given them to condemn God, their Messiah.

Guilt leads us to cowardly actions, but why a kiss?

There was nothing about the appearance of the Lord Jesus that would set him apart from the other men with Him. It is dark and it is dense among the olive trees.
There was no halo, no special clothing, nothing ornate that would mark Him as their leader, let alone as God come in the flesh. Judas wanted to get paid and he wasn’t about to let one of the others pose as Jesus while the real Jesus was shuffled away.
Judas had no idea that he was doing exactly what the Lord intended. He was motivated only by his disappointment and his cowardly desire to salvage something out of the last three years that were wasted with the hope of gaining a place in the kingdom. A simple touch on the shoulder would be insufficient to mark Jesus.

It would take a kiss.

Not just any kiss. This was a repeated kiss with an embrace. This is a kiss that shows familiarity and equality. Neither Judas nor this crowd recognized the superiority of Jesus. Even before Judas kissed Jesus, as he was approaching, Jesus asks: “Do you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”
I can never read this without thinking to myself that this question is directed at me at a very fundamental level. How often I tell the Lord that I love Him when my heart is really only interested in what I get out of such a confession rather than what He gets out of it. Am I really that much different from Judas? It is part of learning and accepting what it means to be a depraved sinner.
The Lord Jesus asks the same question of us in order that we may know why He went to the cross. He did not resist, He did not use the power at His disposal. He did not avoid the cross. Instead, He steps forward and asks; “Whom do you seek?”
What sort of God do you seek? Are you looking for a god whom you can embrace and kiss for what gain it will bring to you? Or are you willing to love this Jesus of Nazareth whom the world loves as a baby but despises as a Savior?

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