Summary: There were three sets of people present at our Lord's betrayal.
Last time, we looked at our Lord’s struggle in Gethsemane. We said it was in Gethsemane that Jesus overcame the reluctance of His flesh to submit to the trial and task of the cross. Having spent time in prayer with the Father about what He was being asked to face, Jesus was prepared. After this time invested in prayerful preparation, Jesus was ready, as indicated by what He said to His disciples:
“The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” - Mark 14:41b-42 (NIV)
Jesus was ready for the cross, which means He was ready to face His betrayer, Judas. Judas had agreed to betray the Lord for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-15). Matthew tells us that Judas sought out the religious leaders and asked what they would pay him to betray Jesus; and now the time had come for Judas to make good on his promise.
This would have occurred sometime early on Friday morning, after midnight. There were sets groups of people at the scene.
1. There were those who fought God - vs. 47-48
This who crowd that came to arrest Jesus was a crowd who were fighting against God. And they were led by Judas.
A. What Judas did.
The night Jesus was arrested was in the middle of spring. The Passover moon would have been full; and John tells us it was a cold night (John 18:18). The old olive trees would’ve cast eerie shadows. So Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss—a fail safe method of identifying Jesus to the soldiers who were with him in the shadowy darkness of the garden.
When a disciple would greet his rabbi, he would customarily greet him with a kiss on the cheek. So it was, that with a gesture that was designed to show respect, Judas betrayed the Lord.
It is interesting to note that the word in Greek that is translated “kiss” here is not the usual word (phileo), but an intensive form of the word (kataphileo), which refers to a fervent, affectionate kiss. This fact shows us how low the human heart can go, and how well we can play the hypocrite. How could Judas betray Jesus like this?
Well, it is interesting that those who were the most opposed to Jesus were well versed in practicing hypocrisy. Our Lord’s most fierce opponents were the religious leaders, of whom Jesus warned:
“Do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” - Matthew 23:3b (NIV)
It’s ironic that those farthest from God are often those who pretend they’re the closest to Him. That was true of the religious leaders and of Judas. Judas aligned himself with the religious leaders rather than with his rabbi. He chose religion over relationship. Sadly, one of the worst enemies of being truly aligned with God is the practice of religion. A relationship with God through Christ leads to life; while an attempted relationship with God through religion leads to death. Judas was lost. Judas fought against God and rejected Jesus.
“And you [My disciples] are clean, but not all of you.” For He knew who was going to betray Him; for that reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.” - John 13:10b-11 (Amplified)
B. Why Judas did it. Two thoughts:
1) He rejected Jesus as the kind of Savior He came to be.
Some theorize that Judas was trying to manipulate Jesus into being the earthly Messiah that Judas wanted Him to be. That this was all designed by Judas to manipulate Jesus into claiming Himself to be an earthly king and lead a Jewish revolt against their Roman oppressors.
If this is correct, then it means that Judas was fighting against the expressed plan of God, for Jesus had clearly taught that His kingdom was not of this world. Judas refused to accept Jesus as the kind of Savior He came to be - the kind of Savior Judas needed.
2) He rejected Jesus simply because of His love of money.
The Scripture clearly presents Judas as being a greedy man. John says that he regularly stole money from the money bag of Jesus and the disciples (John 12:5-6). So when his profit-motivated heart saw that Jesus’ kingdom plans would not result in his personal gain, he arranged to sell the Savior to the authorities for what money he could get.
Whether Judas rejected Christ because he wanted Jesus to be an earthly king for him or a cash cow for him, the bottom line is that Judas refused to acknowledge Jesus as Lord. Consequently, he found himself fighting against God.
Many today are doing the same. They reject Jesus as their Savior because they refuse to acknowledge Him as Lord; and consequently find themselves fighting against God.