Luke 22:47&48 “While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
You remember the journey that our Lord took on this Thursday before what we call ‘Good Friday.’ It began that morning when he had withdrawn from the people of Jerusalem and sent his disciples to prepare the Passover in the Upper Room. He had met there with the twelve later that afternoon, washed their feet and ate with them. He had initiated the Lord’s Supper, spoken to them for several hours and answered their questions sitting around the table. He then had prayed for them, sang with them. He had then left the Upper Room and climbed the Mount of Olives. He had taken just three of them into the Garden of Gethsemane where he had prayed and agonized alone before his Father while they were overcome with a combination of weariness and sadness sleeping for an hour a stone’s throw away from him.
1. OUR LORD JESUS EXPERIENCED BETRAYAL IN HIS ARREST.
Then everything changes. The solitude comes to an end. Christ is ready to receive the people. His fight with God is over; the cup has been drunk; God’s will has been accepted. He has presented himself to God as his Lamb, and Almighty God, as it were, lowers the wall of protection around Christ. God makes the decree, “Men may now approach my Son.” So the world poured into the Garden of Gethsemane, and it was a particularly hostile segment of the world. A crowd of guards and soldiers and religious bureaucrats came to take Jesus. They were armed with swords and clubs and carrying flaming torches. They were a merciless and psychopathic gang of men, not the kind you would want to meet on a dark night in a lonely garden. They would soon be hitting him in the face and spitting on him and lashing him until the blood flowed and flowed. The reality was that our Lord had vanquished them already in his triumphant praying in the Garden – though they didn’t know this. Soon he was about to make a public spectacle of them all on his cross, but they didn’t know that either.
How is Jesus of Nazareth going to be captured? Is it going to be after a sword fight, slashing and striking at one another amidst the olive trees, like the outlaws of Sherwood Forest? Is Jesus going to hide here and there as they come hunting for him while his disciples get cut down? No, it is not that way. It is not acceptable that a willing sacrifice be hunted to death. Shall Jesus make arrangements and stroll along to the house of the Chief Priest and turn himself in? No, that would almost excuse them; he would be making himself a party to their crime. No, the way he is to be arrested is like this, by betrayal through one of his closest friends. His enemies find someone to lead them right to Christ, and that someone is Judas Iscariot. Luke tells us of Judas’ betrayal in these verses, and then, after verse 48, Judas is never mentioned again in the gospel. The last person to call him by his name was Jesus and then Judas disappeared from the Lord of the Word and the Word of the Lord.
It was through one of our Lord’s closest friends, Judas, that Jesus was set up and handed over to those who wanted to kill him in a particularly ghastly way. Everything to do with Jesus’ death is dark and cruel. Mankind’s sin reaches its zenith in the crucifixion. God was the great owner of the vineyard, the one who had sent many servants to get his rent from the vineyard keepers, but they had stoned one servant, beaten up another until he was half dead, and killed another. Last of all he sent his son for his dues; “Surely they will reverence my son,” he said, but they pounced on his son with glee and murdered him. That was the height of their rebellion. This is what we are seeing in the Garden of Gethsemane; the Son has been sent by the Father and these armed men are taking him to finish him off. That was the extreme of their guilt. There is in the heart of all men a latent hatred of God; it lurks behind every excuse men make to have nothing to do with God: “We don’t want to read in the Bible about God. We don’t want to go to church on Sundays and bow before Christ because we hate him.” That sin is in all your hearts; it may be wallpapered over by your gentility and civility, but the covering is only paper thin. About the Lord Jesus men say, “We will not have this man rule over us.” Let me illustrate its reality by recounting this incident.
There was a recent annual festival of books which took place in Hay on Wye and it was the last appearance of the late Christopher Hitchens, the atheistic journalist. He debated faith and unbelief with his brother Peter Hitchens. Two notable writers and columnists they had famously ignored one another for four years. I always read anything Peter Hitchens writes in his columns and books. I especially commend to you his book, The Abolition of Britain which begins with his lively comparison of the two funerals of Winston Churchill and Lady Diana, and his analysis of the difference between those two huge events. He is one of the most pertinent writers in Britain today, but Christopher his brother was totally different, and Christopher was asked on the stage in the public meeting what was the difference between himself and his brother, and this is what he said, “The real difference between Peter and myself is the belief in the supernatural. I’m a materialist while he attributes his presence here to a divine plan. I can’t stand anyone who believes in God, who invokes the deity, or who is a person of faith. I mean, that to me is a horrible, repulsive thing” (The Guardian Weekly, 31 May 2005).
That is a vivid example of the contemporary human enmity towards God, which attitude today is increasingly in our faces as Christians, and I guess that it’s going to affect us still more – if we are faithful to the Lord. It is not a new phenomenon at all. In fact the extreme of human hatred was demonstrated 2000 years ago when men murdered the patient, humble and wise Jesus Christ the Son of God in a peculiarly reprehensible and tortuous manner. It was then that sinners had the opportunity of becoming deicides. Sin reached its fulness then; it was seen at its darkest, in the killing of the spotless lovely Son of God. Judas’ cruel betrayal shows us how black and foul fallen human nature has become.
Significantly it was by betrayal in a garden that the last Adam was arrested because man had become a betrayer in a garden at the very beginning. Remember that our first parents were put into Eden and told to tend it and keep it. They were given one prohibition only, not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Man was there under probation, the focus of his obedience was, “Do not eat from that tree.” In the Garden of Eden was the first occasion for man to betray his living God; instead of replenishing the Garden he stole the forbidden fruit and he listened to the serpent, the arch enemy of God. He opened his heart to evil and he brought sin and death into the paradise of God. Now, once again, here in this Garden of Gethsemane there is the betrayal of the last Adam. Another traitor is active; and we who live in the garden of Wales know this spirit in ourselves; you and I have often betrayed Christ, haven’t we? Haven’t we warmed out hands by a fire and listened to filthy stories and blasphemies and said nothing but even occasionally laughed? Haven’t we? Do we know nothing about betrayal? There were a group of people talking, and as the pastor approached them he heard such words as, ‘odd’, and ‘awkward’, and ‘out of step’ being bandied about. He asked them what were they talking about and they mentioned a certain person, and in a moment he said, “Yes, that person is different . . . yes, a very singular person . . . very out of line with others . . . a very odd person these days.” Then he said, “Do you know that I’ve never heard that person betray an absent friend.” The people there never forgot that rebuke. I am saying that we ourselves know about betrayal, and it’s very fitting that this Lamb who bears all our sins should endures this first sin of betrayal in this Garden.
Everything that follows the Garden of Gethsemane is pure bitterness. That is our Lord’s experience, and it begins with betrayal. “He that eats bread with me has lifted his heel against me.” That is what the holy sinless Son of God experiences; and for our Lord to become a faithful and sympathetic High Priest he must know the gall of that, so that he can sympathize with us when we know family betrayal, or what our best friend has been doing behind our back, or church betrayal, when we discover what our minister has been doing secretly, or what a former deacon has been saying about us. The sins of slander and misrepresentation and ingratitude are alas very common, and the experience of our Lord means that we can run into his presence hurting with pain because of what he has endured, confident that he understands our emotional pain; he’s been there. We can weep before him, “Lord, my husband has betrayed me . . . a preacher has betrayed me,” and our great High Priest in heaven sympathizes. He knows how to send us the most perfect relief because he has felt identical pain but to a degree far worse than any of us. The words of the suffering servants in the book of Psalms – 41 and 55 – speak of Christ’s experience, “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me” (Psa. 41:9). It was from the Passover Meal with Jesus that Judas went straight to the army headquarters and led the soldiers to take Jesus. Again the psalmist says, “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God . . . My companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant. His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords” (Psa. 55:12-14, 20&21).
Christ knew these psalms, in fact he had inspired their writing. This is his own spirit saying these things. In other words, there was no surprise or accident about the betrayal. When Jesus saw these men coming towards him and there, in the lead, directing them right up to him was Judas, there wasn’t a look of amazement on Jesus’ face. There were a number of times he had told them all that this was going to occur, “One of you is going to betray me.” Judas had said to him, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” and Jesus had answered, “Yes, it is you” (Matt. 26:25). Then he further said to Judas, “What you are about to do, do quickly” (Jn. 13:27). Jesus knew Psalms 41 and 55, and he knew the heart of Judas and the way he would be arrested. All this was foreknown. Everything in the Garden, and in the trial, and on the cross took place as the working out of God’s great design to provide atonement for a world’s sin. The armed men following Judas were only God’s instruments brought there by God to bring about our redemption. There is a hand above us, moving the vast machine of this universe, and making all things work together for his glory. All the soldiers and armies of the world might obey their generals, and many Christians might become betraying Judases, but the resurrection morning will prove that even in the darkest garden all things were being done according to the will of God. So Christ had complete composure as he approached these men because he knew that God was in control. You can have the same composure facing an unknown future certain that the same God has your life in his grip.
2. IT WAS JUDAS WHO WAS THE TRAITOR BETRAYING HIM.
Who is this man? Luke refers to him as “the man who was called Judas.” This is a unique phrase in the whole New Testament. What does Luke mean by writing it like that? Does he mean “the so-called Judas” because the name means “the praise of God.” Does it mean “the afore-mentioned”? Or is it a contemptuous reference to “the fellow called Judas.” We cannot be certain. What was Judas? We know that he was our Saviour’s servant. There was never a better Master to work for, no boss so patient, no tutor so understanding as Christ. He would be the one taking the lion’s share of the poverty and the criticism in the grim days, protecting his boys. Judas could always hide behind mighty Christ. Judas was also Jesus’ friend. There was no tokenism about this friendship. Jesus didn’t pretend to love him; he did love him. He could have met Judas’ family and would have been interested in them even if he never met them. He showed Judas many kindnesses – as a person does to a friend. They walked arm in arm together, often sharing the same place to sleep. Jesus kept back nothing from Judas that he’d revealed to others. Judas was privy to all the teachings of Christ. He was Jesus’ bosom friend. What privileges Judas had, and we long to have had just some of them, to have heard his voice and seen his face, to listen to what Judas heard and see what Judas had gazed upon. But notice this, how they all failed to help him.
i] The warnings Judas got failed to keep him, and Jesus did warn him. There are four warnings of betrayal recorded in one of the gospels. Jesus didn’t pussyfoot when he spoke to these men. He once said to Judas with the others, “woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born” (Mk. 14:21). Like the rest of the disciples, Judas was taught to pray not to be led into temptation, but delivered from evil (Luke 11:4). He must have been there when Jesus said, “I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8-9). Judas was also there when Jesus told the parable of the wicked tenants, which ended with the landowner putting his enemies to death for killing his only son (Luke 20:9-18). Jesus gave Judas every possible warning not to become the betrayer. The peril was made personal and clear. We cannot say, “If only someone had warned Judas.” All the warnings he heard from God the Son didn’t keep Judas.
ii] Again, the position Judas held did not keep him. Judas was a preacher, men mighty foolishly say, one of the ‘top twelve preachers in the world’ – what a reprehensible phrase. Peter better describes him this – “he was one of our number and shared in this ministry” (Acts 1:17). He was not one of the Seventy; he had been selected and commissioned by our Lord Jesus himself as his apostle. When Judas preached many were blessed by what he said. He had the gifts of an apostle so that the sick were healed, deaf ears were opened, and the blind were made to see. Judas, who wouldn’t keep the devil out of his own life, could cast demons out of the lives of others. His words and wonders showed that here was a man who had spent a long time with Jesus. Yet he is the one who betrayed his Lord. His position did not keep him. Serving in ministry is no guarantee of a preacher’s salvation.
iii] The knowledge Judas received did not keep him. Judas had sat down on the mountainside and listened to the Sermon on the Mount. He lived in days when listening to and then remembering the teaching of rabbis and scribes was given a premium. People charged their memories with retaining what they heard. Judas could repeat what Jesus had said. Judas knew Christ’s sayings, his sermons, and his parables. When men had argued with our Lord Judas could remember what Jesus had said in reply silencing them. Judas had changed his thinking as he learned from Jesus. Many erroneous ideas he had given up. Jesus told him, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God.” Judas had heard the parables Jesus taught about the dangers of greed. He also heard the advice that Jesus gave about counting the cost of discipleship. Jesus made a major investment in this man’s spiritual education. He was a sound, clear follower of the teaching of Jesus, but that knowledge did not keep him.
iv] Again, Judas’ conscience didn’t keep him. We know he had a powerful conscience because he was overwhelmed with guilt after they’d condemned Christ. Matthew tells us, “When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’ ‘What is that to us?’ they replied. ‘That’s your responsibility.’ So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.” (Matt. 27:3-5). Judas was dead before Jesus. Here is a man with a conscience, a clear sense of right and wrong, but that conscience didn’t keep him.
v] Judas’ outwardly blameless life did not keep him. Where do I get that from? Two facts, firstly that he was appointed by the apostles to look after the money that they were given. You might have thought that Levi the tax-collector would have fitted that office, but Judas was judged a better man that Levi. If there had been any hint of impropriety in Judas the Twelve would never have made Judas the financial secretary. The other reason I speak of his blameless life is this, that when Jesus told them that one of them was going to betray him they were utterly flummoxed as to who it might be. Betrayal by any one of them was unthinkable. They couldn’t imagine one of the Twelve doing such a dastardly act, not Peter, not John, not Judas certainly. All they could say one by one was, “Is it I?” What a deceiver Judas was. The human heart is the most deceitful entity in heaven or on earth or in hell. It is more deceitful than Satan. It is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. So Judas was a man of high public morality, but his blameless life did not keep him.
vi] The love of Jesus that Judas had experienced did not keep him. Sometime you hear people saying that it is not doctrine we need but an experience of the love of Jesus. They are confident that a new vision of Jesus’ love will keep them. But how many times did Judas experience overtures of love from our Lord? Jesus had never been stingy in expressing his love for Judas. He had even washed the man’s dirty feet five or six hours earlier. There had been just one disciple who refused, but it was not Judas; it was Peter. Then, after Jesus lovingly bathed his betrayer’s feet, he shared fellowship with him at the dinner table. Before Judas slipped out into the darkness, Jesus gave him one final warning: “Behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” (v.21). Even the last words Jesus ever spoke to his betrayer were spoken in love: “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” (v. 48). Jesus called Judas by his personal name. Matthew tells us that he even called Judas his “friend” that night (Matt. 26:50), and it was as a friend that Jesus called him one last time to repentance. When he asked Judas this question, he was not expressing his own surprise, but trying to startle Judas into the recognition of what he was really doing. “O Judas, Judas! Are you sure you want to go through with this? Don’t you see that I am the one and only divine Son of God? Can’t you see what you are doing? You are becoming a traitor to the cause of redemption!” To the very end Christ seeks to keep him from ruin.
What are you hoping will keep you? You may have spiritual advantages of every description. Your parents might have been Christians, or still are. You may be sitting under a living ministry in a gospel church. You may have the finest Christian friends. All this may be so, and yet those things alone won’t keep you. Some of you are content with religious privileges. You think that that is all you need. You lament not possessing them. “If only I had a Christian husband . . . been given a godly wife . . . I wish I had a living congregation . . . give me the preaching of the Gospel each Sunday . . . give me such privileges and then I would walk with God for ever,” you dream. What a mistake it is to trust in privileges. Judas had many privileges but Judas betrayed Christ.
3. IT WAS WITH A KISS THAT JUDAS BETRAYED HIM.
Think of it! He addressed him as ‘Rabbi’ and kissed him. The gesture and words were all so affectionate; it is the same word used of the father of the prodigal son embracing his boy when he came home, or the Ephesian elders kissing good-bye to the apostle Paul. A hearty kiss. It is the sign of oneness. It is saying, “There is no alienation between us.” Judas turned Jesus over to death on a cross with a warm gesture of love. Think of it! He’d actually planned to do this; there was nothing spontaneous about it. He’d told the soldiers, “It will be the one I kiss who is Jesus of Nazareth.” Then he went ahead as planned and he kissed him. It made Jesus say to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” (v. 46). What additional pain for Jesus! It is another step for him entering into the firepot of the anathema. Judas, are you betraying with a kiss that great divine being spoken of in Daniel 7 who comes in all the glory of heaven? Judas sells God as the Son of Man for 30 pieces of silver by means of a kiss.
I love to read what Spurgeon said of this: “Judas betrayed his Master with a kiss. That is how most apostates do it; it’s always with a kiss. Did you ever read an infidel book in your life which did not begin with profound statement of the writer’s admiration for Jesus and respect for truth? I never have. Even modern ones, when bishops write them, always begin like that. They betray the Son of Man with a kiss. Did you ever read a book of bitter controversy which did not begin with such a sickly lot of humility, such sugar, such butter, such treacle, everything sweet and soft, and you are smelling a rat. You have said, “Ah! there is sure to be something bad here,” for when people begin so softly and sweetly, so humbly and so smoothly, then depend upon it they have rank hatred in their hearts. The most devout looking people are often the most hypocritical in the world.”
Jesus did more for Judas than any of us has ever done for anyone, more than the most loving wife for her husband. If to kiss is to love, then Jesus had been kissing Judas all the way through the Gospel. This was the man who betrayed him: not one of his usual enemies, but someone he had welcomed as a close friend. The Son of Man was betrayed by someone he loved. In fact, the very manner of this betrayal presumed upon Jesus’ affections. Judas knew where to find Jesus only because he was such a close friend. This secret garden was the secluded spot where Jesus loved to meet with his disciples. Judas knew it well because he had been there with Jesus so often (John 18:2). It was his intimate friendship that enabled him to arrange this arrest, and the same close friendship that gave him access to greet Jesus with a kiss.
Philip Ryken asks, “Have you ever been betrayed? Have you ever had a close friend turn against you? Jesus knows our pain and understands our suffering, for his betrayal was the bitterest of all. Jesus was the Son of Man—an Old Testament title he used to identify himself as the Messiah, the Christ of God. The unique glory of his holy person makes his betrayal so wicked an offense, especially coming from someone to whom Jesus had shown so much love . . . Jesus suffered this betrayal for us while on his way to the cross. There’s a sense in which his sufferings wouldn’t have been complete without this betrayal. How could Jesus sympathize with us in all our sufferings unless he himself had experienced the Judas-kiss of personal betrayal? When you feel betrayed—when you are betrayed—tell all that is in your heart to Jesus. He will understand better than anyone else” (Philip G. Ryken, Luke, Volume 2, P&R, 2009, p.514).
4. WHAT HORRIFIC CONSEQUENCES RESULTED.
For Judas they were unspeakable. He did not even profit by the 30 pieces of silver. However angry he had been before he betrayed Christ, after the guilty verdict was passed and Judas looked at the consequences of his action, he was inconsolable. He took his own life. How terrible! What Judas had done was not the unforgivable sin was it? He had not attributed to the devil the works of the Holy Spirit done through Christ. Judas had not done that. Doesn’t every Christian believe that if Judas had knelt at the feet of that central cross on Golgotha and cried to Jesus, “Lord be merciful to me a wicked sinner who betrayed you,” that Jesus would have gladly said to Judas, “One day thou shalt be with me in paradise”? What are our betrayals compared to Judas’? My sins put Jesus on the cross as much as the sin of betraying Jesus. We might have had Judas as our eternal brother. We preachers would never stop proclaiming Judas as the most glorious illustration of the mercy of God if he had repented and turned to Christ. Grace abounds to the chief of sinners.
We must also add that we believe this, that while a suicide is dying if he is then repenting and crying to God for forgiveness his longings won’t go unanswered. I am aware that there is no salvation without faith in Christ. Love can say nothing more. We have no knowledge that Judas ever repented. So he went to hell. That was the consequence of the betrayal for Judas. Unrepented betrayal takes a sinner to hell.
But what was the consequence for Jesus? Here are two men about the same age. Judas’ father was Simon of Carioth of the tribe of Judah, and when baby Judas was born his parents were thankful for a healthy boy. They called him the name ‘Judas’ which means ‘the praise of God.’ Jesus was born in Bethlehem and for thirty years he lived in Nazareth, and then through his initiative and sovereign decision this good Shepherd found Judas a lost sheep and called him to follow him and become one of the Twelve, and so the lives of Judas and Jesus were intertwined for three years.
Now notice how our text says, “Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared.” That number was not inconsequential – as is the number of the members of the Welsh Assembly, a few more or a few less matters little. The number twelve was not chosen by chance. It was chosen as being the number of the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve patriarchs. Twelve was a necessary number not an accidental number. In choosing twelve Jesus Christ was saying that he is the Father of Young-Israel, just as Father Jacob was the father of Old-Israel, the Israel of the flesh. When Jesus chooses twelve he is gathering around him the new Israel, Young-Israel, the Israel of the Spirit. We are Young-Israel; we don’t derive our ancestry from those twelve patriarchs but we are a spiritual building set on the foundation of the twelve apostles. Jesus has written the names of his twelve men on the foundations of the new Jerusalem. Those twelve men are to be the light of the whole world; they stand for expansion. Christ is going to penetrate the world through the message of the Twelve. He believed that: “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.” It took extraordinary faith for Jesus to give that universal commission in such terms, didn’t it? Here is the world mission of Christ’s kingdom. Jesus’ whole soul is linked to the Twelve. He as the Messiah will rise or fall with these Twelve. He appoints them; he teaches and trains them; he commissions them; he needs each one of them. His office will rise or fall with the work of this beautiful unalterable Twelve!
Now are you beginning to feel the brutal pain? Judas, one of the Twelve appears and he betrays him. The perfect round number of twelve is broken. All hell laughs in derision that this Jesus of Nazareth with his pretensions of world dominion through his apostles – “You are the salt of the earth” – indeed! It’s all crashing down at the first hurdle, isn’t it, even before he exposed to the shame and death of Golgotha? One of his hand-picked and personally-trained Twelve sells him! Judas tears up the whole neat symbolism. He reduces the twelve to eleven. What a foolish number! All this, I say, is part of the anathema that Jesus is entering. This holy and round number is shattered. Where is the foundation of the church? One of its main foundation stones has gone. The whole edifice to stand on is already looking a bit wobbly. Where is Christian preaching heading? What an offense to Jesus’ Messianic consciousness was this apostolic betrayal. Eleven – only eleven left – the perfect number is broken!
Such betrayal means deep suffering for Jesus. This is failure for the Messiah. He is failing as God’s great High Priest. Aaron wore a beautiful breastplate on which were twelve precious stones with twelve names carved on it, and he carried it to his grave, but when Christ dies and is buried one of his twelve has gone sliding way. This kiss of Judas is much more than a sinister act of individual treachery, it is an apostle – of whom Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me even so do I send you” – an apostle I say, falling out of the circle of the Twelve, and Jesus having to die with his eyes fixed on a broken number. Do you see how severely God is testing his Son, and how Satan is tempting him: “You began with twelve; three slept in the Garden; one denied you with cursing; one betrayed you, and they all ran off and left you. How many are you going to end up with? It’s failing; it’s all going to end in failure.” Those kinds of words whispered to Jesus on the cross for hours were as painful as the nails through his hands and feet. Christ’s work of bringing salvation to the whole world through the apostolic church is being profaned by the betrayal of Judas.
The issue facing Christ is straightforward; do you or don’t you trust in God your heavenly Father? Does he trust when his Father has allowed Judas to kiss him, and when his Father has decreed the harmony to be broken; twelve has become eleven. Do you still trust in God during discordant times? That is the law of the cross. That is the disgrace of Christ’s broken body. Crucifixion in darkness is the only way to resurrection and glorification. And God is saying to him, “You who told your disciples, ‘You believe in God, believe also in me’ do you still trust in me? Do you believe that I can raise the dead? Do you believe that I am in charge of the future? Do you believe that the church will be built on the foundation of the twelve apostles? Do you have faith in God?” Yes, Jesus does, and all his conduct in the next sleepless hours shows he will trust in his heavenly Father even when that Father has forsaken him. When Judas brings the soldiers he stretches out his hands to be bound in the Garden. He is tried; he is condemned; he is crucified; he is buried; he rises on the third day; he ascends to heaven; he pours out his Spirit on the apostles; he restores the completeness to his Twelve, and he will present the worldwide church complete to God in the great day.
Christ who endured the kiss of Judas can by divine strength overcome the offense of betrayal. On the cross his work is finished but it is not perfected. He must rise and pour out his Spirit, and guard and keep and spread his church until he comes again. Then he will establish an everlasting kingdom where it will be impossible to betray Jesus. All who are in that Kingdom kiss the Son in faith and love. That Kingdom is perfect. It is 12,000 furlongs square; it has 12 gates; 12 pearls, and the names of the 12 apostles are on its foundations. Twice times twelve thrones surround the one throne; twice times twelve elders are there, and twelve times 12,000 saints fill the heavens. Jesus Christ is there and his Twelve are with him, and from all sides his praises are sung. Jesus speaks and says, “Father I thank you that all you have given me are here except the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled. Here there will never be a single son of perdition out of the whole uncountable throng.” Christ was not kissed by Judas in vain. He did not suffer all he did without his glorious exaltation. He has a name that is above every name, and the kingdoms of this world have become his kingdoms. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords: he is God the Son.
September 2, 2012 GEOFF THOMAS