Betrayed with a kiss
If ever there was a man who could call himself the elect of the elect, it was Judas.
He was not only Jewish, he was, in all probability, from the tribe of Judah. Certainly his name means “Judah” – which refers not simply to the southern kingdom of Israel but also to the royal tribe from which Christ Himself was descended. Here was Jesus’ own kith and kin. This alone would make him the elect of the elect.
Yet Judas’s privileges go even deeper. The Scriptures constantly present him as a close friend of Christ’s (Psalm 41:9; 55:12-13; John 13:18-30). He had not only seen the mighty works of Christ, he had performed them too, in Jesus’ name (Luke 9:1ff). And, of course, he was one of the twelve. Even more, he was chosen as treasurer of the group (John 12:6). In that sense he was the elect of the elect of the elect of the elect.
And yet here is what this chosen one does to the Eternally Chosen One:
“While Jesus 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. But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:47-48)
Just hours earlier Jesus had bent down and washed his feet, then fed him, sacramentally, with His own body and blood. Jesus had only ever done Judas good. Yet now He is betrayed. And betrayed with a kiss.
Biblically speaking, a kiss is not only a sign of intimacy and friendship, it’s also an act of worship. One of the key biblical words for worship (proskuneo) literally means to “kiss towards.” Therefore think of Psalm 2 where the kings of the earth are commanded to “worship the LORD” and, in the same breath, to “Kiss the Son” (Psalm 2:10-12). So here is a literal kissing of the Son by a royal Judah-ite. This should be the essence of worship, in fact it’s the height of treason.
And this is the Bible’s picture of humanity. It was Judas, the elect of the elect, who betrays Jesus. And betrays Him to the best of the best – the Jewish establishment. And they, with the help of the mightiest of the mighty (the Romans) crucify the Lord of Glory.
Humanity does not stand with Jesus in His work. No-one gives Jesus a helping hand when He saves the world. Simon “the rock” fails, deserts and denies Him. Judah himself betrays Him. And the children of Abraham sentence Him to death. The best that humanity has to offer is not an aid to Jesus – we only cause His death. And the more we lay claim to strength, wisdom and righteousness, the more complicit we seem to be in His murder. It wasn’t the worst of humanity that slew the Son of God – it was the best.
This scene shows the truth so starkly: From the outside we see a respectable man of good breeding worshipping the LORD. In fact it’s the very betrayal of God. When it comes to salvation, humanity only stands in the way of the LORD. And the very best of humanity, appearing with the best of intentions, proves utterly traitorous.