While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.
Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of the Christ, begins in the Garden of Gethsemane, with Judas entering with soldiers. Going up to Jesus, he plants his lips on Jesus' cheeks. Looking him right in the eye, Jesus says, "You betray the Son of Man with a kiss?"
It was a heart-rending scene because Judas's betrayal was not simply a betrayal of Jesus but of the very essence of his faith. As one of Jesus's disciples, Judas had witnessed firsthand the transformative power of Jesus's message and the depth of his love and compassion. Yet, despite this, he still chose to betray Jesus. And he did it with a kiss.
Judas is universally despised and reviled as a traitor, but I can't help but feel sorry for him, mainly because I have noticed so many of us are like him. We also sell out people who are close to us, who have loved and trusted us, believing we had valid reasons for doing so. Judas believed this too. Although we believe Judas betrayed Jesus out of greed, there may have been other motivations, like hurt at being sidelined in Jesus' inner circle or disappointment in Jesus' leadership.
Judas eventually hanged himself and consigned himself to an eternity separated from God, so it might be wise to learn a few things from him. Firstly, Judas's betrayal of Jesus can be seen as a warning against allowing our desires and worldly interests to take precedence over our faith. Like Judas, we can be tempted to prioritize our own interests and ambitions over our spiritual commitments, leading us to compromise our values and beliefs.
Secondly, Judas's actions illustrate the potential for us to be deceived by our thoughts and emotions. Judas may have believed that he was doing what was best for himself and his cause, but his actions had grave consequences for himself and those around him. Similarly, we can be led astray by our biases, fears, and desires, causing us to make decisions that ultimately harm ourselves and others.
Thirdly, Judas's story also serves as a reminder of the importance of self-reflection and repentance. Despite his grave betrayal of Jesus, Judas was still given the opportunity to seek forgiveness and redemption. This highlights the transformative power of acknowledging our mistakes and taking steps to make amends for them.
Something to think about today.
May the Spirit be with you.