Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.” Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. (Mt. 26:47-49)
The experience of betrayal for Jesus was first recorded, when his own physical brothers labeled him as ‘insane’ Jn. 7:5-10, Mk. 3:21. Jesus wasn’t the first King to be betrayed. King David’s life was filled with betrayal, he started his reign wrestling with it, he warns those who had deserted him for Saul: “the God of our fathers look thereon and judge” (1 Chron. 12:17). Later still, the pain of betrayal was to come personally to David by his own son Absalom. To feel the inward piercing of treacherous lies was the consequence of deception God warns us about in the Proverbs 25:9-10. Jesus felt deception before he was beaten, scourged & crucified. If we know the reasons for betrayal, we may avoid committing it ourselves. God pleads, do not grieve His Holy Spirit, Ephesians 4:30. In the betrayal, God’s Spirit in Jesus must have felt that all was lost & hopeless, John 3:31-34.
Jesus prophetically chose Judas and already knew him to be a thief. Jesus is showing us that foreknowledge is not a weapon or defense against the pain of lies & betrayal. Judas may have wanted the leaders of religious society to recognize his advantageous position, and told them, whoever I “kiss”, He is the One. Consider this possibility, what if Judas believed that Jesus would use God’s power to overcome his captors? This would make Judas look more than knowledgeable. But Jesus knew Judas even better than Judas wanted to be known. A “kiss” made the pain of betrayal personal. 30 pieces of silver from the Priests would be shekels of the sanctuary; this would be equivalent to 120 denarius, which was the average of about three months wages. Today that would be almost $12,000. Judas agreed to identify Jesus for captivity in stealth. This would at first excite Judas enough to go through with his plans. But afterwards of course, he realizes he betrayed Jesus, (Mt. 27:1-4), and offers the money back, he changed his mind, but not his heart. Jesus must have felt cheated, to know that Judas would just throw everything away, for what he had done. The idea of money was in Judas’ mind, but the exact amount was offered by the chief priests. What is amazing is that 30 pieces of silver is equivalent to the price of a good slave, which is exactly what Jesus was to become, enslaved to the burden & consequence of sin, being prophesied of in Zec. 11:12-13, Ex. 21:32. He certainly took on the form of a slave, Php. 2:7-8. So should we! The pain of betrayal is felt in three ways by Jesus. Firstly from his own physical brothers calling him insane, Jn. 7:5-10, Mk. 3:21,31. Secondly by Judas capturing him for the Jews. Thirdly by the Chief Priests in encouraging the people to insist on crucifixion after Pilate had found no fault in him, Ac. 7:52. Most of us would strike back when betrayed, but Jesus only said one remark, “will you betray the Son of Man” (Luke 22:48), To the ears of Judas, the title Son of Man, reminded him of the office of Royalty and Judge, see Daniel 7:13. These words would have been ringing in the ears of Judas to his death. Christ’s identity was worth more than $12,000. Judas did not believe God wanted to forgive him in Jesus, even after prophesy was fulfilled.
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