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Betrayed with a Kiss: Matthew 26.47-56

Judas betrays Jesus (Luke 22, 47-48), wood engraving, published 1886


Have you been disappointed by a friend before?  The older we get the more painful this is.  Twelve friends, the disciples, have been with Jesus for several years.  All of them will hurt him.  When you’re four years old you can be hurt by a friend and after naptime you’re best friends again.  Jesus manages to still love those who hurt him.  How does he do that?

In verses 47 and following one of the twelve is a betrayer.  Judas was in the inner circle.  Judas spent three years with Jesus.  They were together 24/7 for three years.  Jesus knew from the beginning this would happen.  Jesus chose to be close to someone who would hurt him.  Even though there’s a possibility we will get hurt we’re still called to make friends.  The Bible is about relationships.  Sin has broken our relationship with God and with each other.  Jesus experiences this.  Jesus will bear the sin of broken relationships.  Judas is about to betray Jesus. 

Matthew 26:49-50 Jesus and his friends are still in the olive grove.  Jesus has just prayed to the Father for God’s will to be done.

Make friends.

                        49And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 

This group with Judas is out in the night.  It’s a group of temple guards and Roman soldiers.  They needed a way to identify which one was Jesus.  Judas planned to kiss Jesus so they would know.  A kiss was a normal way to greet one another, but “Greetings, Rabbi” is actually an insult.  Students would never greet their teacher first.  Teachers greeted first.  This was a matter of respect in their culture.  Judas is intentionally disrespecting Jesus.  This action is stating he is no longer a student of Jesus.  Jesus knows what’s to come and what’s happening.

In verse 50 Jesus calls him, “friend,” and tells Judas to do what he has come to do.  Jesus still calls him friend.  The actual translation is, “table mate.”  Jesus extends a welcome arm to Judas even in the midst of betrayal.  That is different from how you and I respond.  We would choose to not make that person a close friend.  Jesus calls us to keep making friends. 

Children make friends so easily.  Adults magnify hurt.  The Gospel restores our relationship with God and one another.  The hurt inflicted on Jesus doesn’t change him.  Don’t allow hurt to change you.

The guards take hold of Jesus.  Peter defends Jesus but takes the wrong approach.  Peter springs into action!  He acts wrongly.  Jesus expects more of us.  Peter draws his sword and cuts an ear off.

Expect more.

                        52Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 

What we learn from other texts is that Jesus healed the man’s ear right in that moment, instantaneously!  Jesus is protecting Peter.  Peter just attacked a soldier.  Jesus intervened.  Peter isn’t arrested.  Peter responds incorrectly.  Jesus is teaching us here that this isn’t how the Kingdom advances.  There’s an appropriate time to protect but this isn’t it.  We appreciate law enforcement and our military and what they do.  There’s an appropriate time for protection.  This isn’t it.

As a kid I was given my first BB gun.  I was learning how to shoot it.  On the first day an older cousin taunted me about the gun.  He went up a tree and even told me to shoot him.  (Please don’t try this at home!)  My older sister became so irritated at my cousin that she took the gun from me and shot him!  My cousin is ok. He had a long career in the military.  Of course my sister was in trouble. 

Peter didn’t like what was happening to Jesus.  God expects us to see the bigger picture.  Jesus had been preparing them.  This is the time of sacrifice.  He calls all of us to lay down our lives for Kingdom advancement.  Jesus is still doing ministry and teaching them in the midst of betrayal.

Follow Jesus.

                        53Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” 

Jesus is correcting Peter.  Peter doesn’t understand the power and purpose of Jesus.  Just like when we get on Facebook and rant trying to protect God.  God doesn’t need our protection.  The Holy Spirit is capable of speaking into people’s lives.  We do not have to take matters into our own hands.  Do you not think I can call down angels at any moment?  One angel can take out 185,000 soldiers!  This isn’t your precious moment figurine angel!  This is the Creator, God!  We have a God able to do anything at any moment. 

Jesus chooses the cross.  He is ready for this moment.  Something bigger is taking place so we can be restored.  He came to heal brokenness.  Jesus is the greatest friend.  We know Judas betrays Jesus.  We read what Judas did at the meal.  We are surprised that all the disciples abandon Jesus.  What do you do when everyone abandons you?

Keep swimming.

                        56Then all the disciples left him and fled.

They fled: scared and confused.  Jesus has told them one hundred times… and they haven’t let it sink in.  They all failed.  In Matthew 26 the disciples are all complete failures.  They all fled.  What do we do in these moments?  We keep pressing on!

In Matthew 28 a message is given to Mary and other ladies to tell the disciples to meet Jesus in Galilee.  Jesus will restore all his friends.  He will give them boldness and send them to the ends of the earth, carrying the Gospel message.  What’s it mean to keep swimming?

In the movie Finding Nemo, Nemo’s dad is searching for him.  He feels like a failure and Dori says, “Keep swimming.”  Jesus tells us it’s not the end of our story.  We all fail.  We all choose our own way.  Jesus already knew you would mess up.  This is the grace of the cross.  He will restore us if we trust him.

Sermon notes are taken, transcribed and posted by Jeni Martin Johnson.

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