He was My Friend!

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, “Friend, do what you came for.”

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. (Matthew26:47-50)

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Romans 12:19-21)
Here we experience the hour when darkness was permitted to reign. When the Lord’s Passion began, it came on Him fiercely. Jesus had just arisen from laboring in fervent prayer and was still speaking to his disciples when evil interrupts the scene. Sometimes life happens that way. I am reminded of the calamities in blameless Job’s life. One calamity after another after another made it difficult for Job to even catch his breath much less process what had transpired:

One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” (Job 1:13-19)

The betrayer led the group of armed tumultuous rabble into one of Jesus’ private places of retreat. Only one of the disciples would have been so familiar with the specific areas of rest and refreshment of the Master. Without Judas’ help it is unlikely they would have found Him. Luke tells us that Judas served the armed men in the position of guide:

Judas … served as guide for those who arrested Jesus—he was one of our number and shared in this ministry.” (Acts 1:16-17)

Arresting the Lord Jesus in such an obscure place prevented any interference from the pilgrims present for the Passover that may have wanted to prevent His captivity. The group who came after Jesus was an oil and water group to be sure. Made up of Roman guards and the officers of the High Priest, this group remained at variance with each other yet in agreement against the Master. And what was their reason for His arrest? The warrant was issued from the great Sanhedrin as a person that was offensive to them. It was not Pilate the Roman governor who gave the warrant, rather men committed to religion under masks pride and jealousy. They were the most spiteful enemies Christ had, and they wanted Him out of the picture.

The group’s pawn, Judas, willingly turned on his Master for a few coins. He betrayed the Lord with the greeting of “Rabbi” (teacher), not Lord, and the kiss of a friend. Everything had been planned so that there would be no mistaking whom the guards were to seize. Judas’ kiss was a part of the plan to distinguish Jesus, not to detain Him. The armed soldiers were there for that. How could Judas have looked into Jesus’ face and kissed Him as a sign of allegiance and friendship? Judas broke all laws of love and duty to serve his own purposes. There is no depth to which humanity can fall.

Take It to Heart

“The truly meek man is humble, gentle, patient, forgiving, and contented; the very opposite of the man who is proud, harsh, angry, revengeful, and ambitious. It is only the grace of God, as it works in us by the Holy Spirit, that can make us thus meek.” (Charles H. Spurgeon)

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