“But Jesus said unto him, ‘Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?'” Luke 22:48

“And while He yet spake, behold, a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss Him” (Luke 22:47). Literally, Luke writes “Look! a crowd!”, and the devil was in them. Jesus had just beaten the devil again in a most crucial battle in Gethsemane, when that human devil (John 6:70), Judas, showed up. Satan in flight, if at all possible, gets in a parting shot. Here his deputy does this for him. Now Judas, like the demonized herd of swine, begins his violent plunge to destruction. 

There is no attempt on our Lord’s part to win Judas over to righteousness and life. He was already, as the son of perdition (John 17:12), ordained to condemnation (Jude 1:4). Therefore with this his last contact with Jesus he was instantly seen through, completely silenced, and condemned. Here heaven and hell looked each other in the eye, the latter immediately giving way, vanquished. Judas, the deadly serpent, fastens himself to Jesus, but is flung off with one single gesture of revulsion and rejection. This, plus Jesus’ direct and spontaneous advance on the band coming to arrest Him, made Judas’ signal of a kiss unnecessary and a bit ridiculous. Also notice that here we have an example of how we must combat the kingdom of darkness. “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness (as Peter had), but rather reprove them” (as Jesus did). 

I.WHAT. What brought this about? First, recall that the Lord and His disciples were in the home of Simon the leper, in Bethany, at a supper they made for Him, when Mary of Bethany anointed both the head and the feet of Jesus with very precious ointment, while He was eating. At this action of hers Judas was very indignant. The disciples, too, were affected by and infected with this wicked, carnal resentment. But Judas was so terribly provoked and exasperated by what this woman had done and by the Lord’s defense of her that, with his Satan-filled heart burning with rage and revenge, he left Bethany, went to Jerusalem and right to the chief priests to betray Jesus into their hands. He could not bear it that Jesus had put him to shame before all the apostles and had shut that mouth of his which had insulted the woman and, especially, Jesus. In his intrigue with the priests, he referred to the Lord as His enemies did, not by mention of His name, but as “that one” or “him.” However, when Jesus caught this Iscariot in the despicable act, He called him by name (Luke 22:48) to continue to show His disciples that He had an exact knowledge of Judas’ every move (cp. Matt. 26:45)! But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Jesus had purposely exposed the traitor at the last supper, to get rid of him so that He might institute the Lord’s Supper, which is for true believers only. Then Jesus took His disciples aside into the Garden of Gethsemane where in prayer to His Father He experienced that deathly agony of soul. There, too, He warned of the near approach of the traitor. “And while He yet spake” those very words of His imminent betrayal, “Lo!” Take a look through the olive trees of the garden, and through the entrance in the stone wall surrounding the place, see! Judas, one of the twelve, one of the chosen, called and ordained, and with him a huge mob, from the chief priests, scribes, and elders, with swords, clubs, lanterns, torches, and weapons! What a Judas mob! 

Now, he had prearranged with the enemy the actual signal of betrayal, the kiss of greeting, which he made the kiss of death. So he immediately rushed over to Jesus with the hypocritical salutation, “O joy! (cp. Matt. 26:49 with Matt. 28:9). Rabbi! Rabbi!” Saying this he went to kissing Him repeatedly. Never once did Judas call Jesus Lord. The man was like an Arian, not holding the deity of Christ. No one can really say that Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Ghost (I Cor. 12:3). Jesus immediately thrust the man away with .a word never used in addressing a member of the kingdom of God, literally, “Fellow (not “friend”!), this is why you are here?” (Matt. 26:50, Gk.). Thus Judas knew what he was about; knew his deed was treacherous; knew he had betrayed the innocent blood. “But Jesus said unto him, ‘Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?'” Literally, the order of the words is, “Judas, with a kiss the Son of Man do you betray?” Judas was the thoroughly trusted treasurer of the apostolate. He had the bag which held the collections donated by ladies’ aid which followed the Lord and ministered to His needs. He was a careful, conscientious economist, with just about all the qualifications required in a good treasurer. He distributed to the poor as directed, and, as always, no audit was thought necessary. But one day he, a partner in the company of the apostles, became a turncoat and traitor. It was as though a foot had deserted the body to commit treason against the head. For the word betray means treacherously to sell out a friend into the hands of the enemy for judgment, punishment, scourging, torment, condemnation, and death. It was then that the funds in the bag in his hand weighed heavier than ever before with blood money. 

II.WHO. “Judas, with a kiss the Son of Man do you betray?” (Greek). What this means is that Judas (and all the disciples) knew that Jesus was “the Son of Man” and therefore the Messiah. Only he was bitterly disappointed in learning, finally, that the Messiah, according to the Old Testament Scriptures, and according to Jesus the Messiah’s own personal teaching, was not, as everyone had long thought, an earthly, political king, but a heavenly, spiritual Savior-King. 

The people of the Jews rightly understood that the name the Son of Man was a proper designation of their Messiah. For they knew the Scriptures prophesying of Him, as the Psalms, the Book of Daniel, etc. But their problem was, they could see only one side of Messianic truth, being blind to the other side. They knew and believed the Scriptures to teach that the Messiah abideth forever (John 12:34, cp.Ps. 61:6Ps. 89:29Ps. 110:4). But they could not see applying to Him those passages which prophesied of His vicarious sufferings and death. They had heard out of the law that Messiah abideth forever, but it seems that they had never heard out of the law that the Messiah “shall be cut off” (Dan. 9:26Isaiah 53:8). Hence, they asked, in reference to these mystifying prophecies, “Who is this Son of man?”—one who had to die by being lifted up, as they correctly understood Jesus to teach (John 12:34). From this, to them, strange point of view, they could not see how to identify the title “the Son of Man” with the Messiah. But He in due time made that plain enough when later He said, “I am He that liveth, and was dead, and, behold, I am alive for evermore. Amen” (Rev. 1:13, 18). 

III.HOW. “Judas, with a kiss . . . do you betray (Me)?” So Joab, greeting Amasa with the customary Middle Eastern kiss, and under the guise of asking about his health, and after picking up an “accidentally” dropped dagger, with it violently emptied out his life (II Sam. 20:9). Judas kissed Jesus much. Lenski expressed it in German, Er kuesste ihn ab, he kissed Him off, with the kiss of death. Isn’t that the way the apostates have always stood forth, with a kiss? In the late twenties and into the thirties there was continual controversy between Fundamentalism and Liberalism. As reported in The Presbyterian, Nov. 6, 1924, p. 12, Rev. Albert C. Dieffenbach, D.D., editor of the Unitarian weekly, The Christian Register, said, “I have profound respect for a man who is consistently a Fundamentalist, or a man who is consistently a Roman Catholic, but I have no respect for the attitude of Dr. (Harry Emerson) Fosdick . . . . When he goes to Cambridge he speaks in terms of Liberalism and when he comes to New York he says, ‘I am an evangelical Christian!'” In one place the man showed aversion to the truth, but in another he seemed to have such profound respect for the truth. A kiss in the one place, a stab in another place! Current infidel books are still to be found written by modern bishops. These begin with a kiss, but within a few more pages there is awful betrayal of the Son of Man. Billy Graham, during his Scottish Crusade of 1955, said in a B.B.C. interview, according to a report in Faith For the Family, “I don’t call myself a fundamentalist . . . . The old terms fundamentalismand liberalism are now passé. . . . I am not a fundamentalist, I am not a modernist. I am a conservative liberal . . . .” Isn’t this a sickly dose of self-buttered humility, dripping with syrup and honey to conceal the truth stabbed in the back? Isn’t that exactly the way it was in 1924, both in Presbyterian and Reformed circles? Are these termsfundamentalism and liberalism, or Calvinism andArminianism, and the age-old battle they represent, really passé? Are the theologies represented by contemporaneous atheists, Barthians, Unitarians, and Romanists as viewed alongside the Reformed, orthodox, Christian Faith, nothing more than a sophisticated blur? Do not the sharp lines of the antithesis ever remain in light versus darkness, Christ versus Belial, and the truth versus the lie? 

But Judas repented, didn’t he? Yes, but only when he saw that he was condemned. His was a sorrow (repentance) not to salvation, but one that worked death (II Cor. 7:9-10). He also made a confession, to the hierarchical priesthood which denied him absolution, but not to God. This “confession” robbed Christ’s enemies of another false witness, for Judas in remorse testified to Christ’s innocence. He threw away the bloody bribe, but never confessed the love of money. His suicide was a throwing of himself on the tender mercies of the Wicked One. The infinite loss to the betrayer was of his office and of his soul. The dubious gain to the betrayer was of a monument to his infamy—”the field of blood”! Shall any of us say, “Well, I am no Judas!” Let us rather look for Judas in every corner of the heart, and be sure we have very far more than a mere profession we keep up because it keeps us up. “Let us hold fast the confession (Gk.) of our faith without wavering” (Heb. 10:23).