47 While He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a large crowd with swords and clubs, who came from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him.” 49 Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. 50 And Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you have come for.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.
I don’t know about you, but the thing about this scene is that Jesus calls Judas “friend”. In Luke’s version of the story Jesus asks Judas, “are you really betraying me with a kiss?” What we must recognize is that Jesus continued to love Judas regardless of Judas’ evil deeds. This is good news for us. This is great news for us! He loves us despite our failures and betrayals. Jesus’ sadness comes in that He knows how much this will affect Judas (to the point of killing himself) because sinfulness in our lives destroys us. This is why Jesus knew that what He was about to go through was necessary. Because sin kills us.
Sin kills us. Our sin killed Jesus. In His death we have the opportunity to be made alive again. There is not much to comment on this other than the fact that we must understand God’s grace for us shown through His Son. How often do we betray Jesus with a kiss and He still calls us friend? We have seen through this process that Jesus has known all along what was going on with Judas. Jesus knew intimately what was happening but anyone that is as close to another as Jesus was with Judas can tell when the enemy has taken hold of their heart. We can try as much as we want to talk them out of it, but Jesus knew that God had a purpose for it. This is difficult for us to accept. Rightly so, we fight in more ways than one to get that person to “come back” but as the Apostle Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 5, God has a purpose for allowing the enemy into someone’s heart for a time and we must accept when it is time to let them go:
1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. 2 You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. 3 For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
When someone won’t listen to reason and chooses to continue in the sinful path they are in, we have to accept that God has a greater plan for that person and that the dark road they are on will teach them a lesson they can only learn through experience. We all go through this period in our lives, sometimes more than once. We need to learn it on our own. It is hard for those who love you and care for you. Jesus was even baffled that Judas still hypocritically kissed Him as a friend and companion. Yet Jesus knew there was a greater purpose for it. We don’t want to accept it. We think it is unfair. We might even get angry at God because of it. But just think, if Judas hadn’t betrayed Jesus, then this story would be different and Jesus might not have been delivered to the chief priests and elders. So how could we want to go back and change history? We accept Jesus’ sacrifice for us and glory in it but we struggle with the details leading up to it.