Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. (Mark 14:44-45)
It’s night. It’s dark. The betrayer Judas has led a crowd armed with swords and clubs to a place where he knows Jesus will be with his disciples. Without a photo, a sketch or a wanted poster, how will they know which one to apprehend? Which of these Jewish men is Jesus?
Judas has it all worked out. “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and take him away. ” An innocent greeting would now deliver Jesus into the hands of his enemies.
Kisses are a part of our lives. A parent leaves a quiet kiss on the forehead of a sleeping child. We teach our young ones to blow a kiss. A child has one last kiss for a parent before they close the casket. After exchanging vows, a groom passionately kisses his bride at the altar. We end our notes with x’s and o’s – hugs and kisses.
The psalmist writes, “Kiss the Son,” that is, acknowledge his rule and reign (Psalm 2:14). In light of his power and authority, it’s the smart thing to do. But Judas twists that expression of trust and loyalty into treachery and betrayal.
One of Solomon’s proverbs reminds us: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6). That’s true at Gethsemane and later at Golgotha. A kiss doesn’t tell the whole story. But the wounds in Jesus’ hands, feet and side say it all. He was kissed, betrayed, seized, taken away, and crucified for us. His love for us is expressed with so much more than a kiss. He says, “I love you” with both his life and his death.
After the resurrection, Jesus had a conversation with Peter on the shore of the Lake of Tiberius. Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” Peter answered, “Yes.” Peter answered, “Yes” three times. And each time Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep” (John 21:15-17). Hugs and kisses are nice, but our love for Jesus will always be expressed in how we care for others. We receive Jesus’ love so we can pass it along.
Heavenly Father, I get such a clear look at your great love at the cross of your son Jesus. Make my life an expression of that love as I care for others.