THE KISS OF VIOLENCE
Lord, on this day I seek you with my whole being. May I hear you speaking to me as I come before you.
Read MATTHEW 26:47-56
47 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. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”[a]
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
- Matthew 26:50 Or “Why have you come, friend?”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Pray to experience the leading and empowering of the Holy Spirit so that the Word may come alive today.
The story of Jesus’ betrayal is more complex than it seems. Judas has given crucial information to Jesus’ enemies, especially the time and place when he would be away from crowds. Judas offers to identify him with a kiss of greeting. Yet Jesus would need little identification. He was well known. When Judas does kiss Jesus, the word in Greek changes. It’s not a kiss of ‘greeting’ but one of ‘repeated passionate embrace’. Why? Some scholars suggest that Judas wanted Jesus to make a show of divine strength, to call down angels and demonstrate his power. Whatever Judas’ ultimate motives were, however, Jesus calls him ‘betrayer’ (v 46).
Jesus’ arrest symbolizes the warfare of peace and truth against violence and lies. No peace comes with Judas’ kiss. Instead, he effectively heads up a lynch mob, reputedly sent by the chief priests and elders, but clearly outside the law. It becomes quickly obvious that violence is not Jesus’ way; it should never be ours. In our own world, we find so often that violence brings only further violence. Jesus rebukes the disciple who attacks the servant, and restores the man’s ear.1 In front of armed men, he makes it clear that he could call angels to blast his enemies – but he doesn’t. For us, too, Christ’s way is that of peace, not military might.
Although it was costly, Jesus made his own response to the arrest. Nothing forced him to come to Jerusalem for Passover. He could have exposed Judas and cut out his betrayal. In the garden, he could have quietly slipped away before the mob arrived. Although his life would be taken brutally from him, he laid it down by choice. Foretold by prophets and in the plan agreed between him and the Father, Jesus’ death was given for you and me. God’s purposes are worked out only by sacrificial love.
What does it mean to you in your daily life and relationships to be a follower of the Prince of Peace?
Lord Jesus, I would want to stand firm with you, but I fear I may be more like the disciples who fled. By your Spirit, empower me to stand strong and true for you.
1 Luke 22:51
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