Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. Mark 14:44-45
In some cultures, strangers greet one another with a kiss. It’s custom, not personal affection. However, the kiss Judas gave Jesus is of the personal kind. In Greek, it was a ‘phileo’ kiss ~ showing deep love, affection, covenant, and relationship. Jesus wasn’t fooled. He saw it coming and Judas knew Jesus saw through it. It does reinforce, however, that betrayal is always personal or it’s not betrayal. It starts with two people in a covenant relationship but one turns on the other.
Scripture says that Jesus ‘knew the hearts of men’ so even though the disciples didn’t see signs of Judas treachery on the horizon, Jesus did. He’d always known. Yet, Judas was hand picked anyway to fulfill the scriptures. Judas probably believed he was autonomous in his mutinous decisions but he was a pawn in the sovereign will of God.
Since none of us are divine, we don’t always see it coming. We don’t know that the person we least suspect will hurt us so deeply. Good behavior and their internal divided kingdom veil who they really are. It is only as we look back that we can see signposts that posted a warning. In the end, it is a journey into wisdom and forgiveness.
In close, let me say that yesterday, someone wrote a note expressing concern that my devotionals revealed a marriage crisis. Sincere compassion was extended to me and I was very touched by it. But, I can assure you that Ron and I are celebrating forty-four years of marriage next month. By the grace of God, no betrayals here. But, like you, I have had a friend or two intentionally hurt me over the years. And like you, when I interact with certain biblical texts, the topic is chosen for me. I work with the passage as God leads me and write from there.
For any of you who are beating yourself up over past or present relationships, know that the nature of a wolf is to deceive. If he/she weren’t good at it, Jesus wouldn’t have needed to warn us to be biblically street smart. When we receive a Judas kiss, followed by betrayal, Jesus knows and His tears blend with ours as we grieve the loss. What did He do for His disciples when Judas was revealed in the upper room? He didn’t scold them for being out of touch. He tended to their wounds and washed their feet.
As much as You knew Judas’ kiss was coming, it had to break Your heart. I’m so grateful You are acquainted with all our griefs. Amen