It is late Wednesday evening of Passion week after Jesus has celebrated the Passover with His disciples. According to Jewish understanding the Passover marked the start of a new day that began at sunset. For Jesus and His disciples it was the 15th of the first month and the start of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. But for the religious leaders who reckoned the start of the month a day later due to ambiguities in sighting the new moon, it was the 14th day of the month and the preparation day for the Passover that they would partake of the next evening. Jesus has just finished praying in the Garden of Gethsemane where, according to the meaning of its name as an olive press, He was pressed by the sins of the world for the oil of His Spirit that would be poured out richly through His blood for the washing of our regeneration and renewing by that Holy Spirit of sacrifice. Now, as the time according to God’s perfect plan had arrived, Jesus for the third time awakened His disciples, who ought to have been keeping watch with Him, and drew their attention to His betrayal that was now unfolding.
What does Matthew record in Mat 26:48 that emphasizes the treachery of Jesus’ betrayal? Cf. Luk 22:47-48 and consider the sinfulness of sin that causes one to mask evil not only with an appearance of good, but with a display of affection. Whose nature is reflected by the guile and deceit of disguising such treachery with a cloak of intimacy? See 2Co 11:14. What other examples of such deliberate treachery do we find in Scripture? See 2Sa 3:27, 20:9-10, Psa 12:2, 28:3, 55:21. Especially in this present day when the world has to such an extent come to reflect the image of the god of this age, should we suppose that just because someone speaks peace to us or says they have our interests in mind that we should necessarily accept them as true? Cf. 2Pe 2:18-19. What do Judas’ words in Mat 26:48 to those arresting Jesus seem to clearly indicate about his intent to deliver Jesus up, and his guilt in betraying Him? Cf. Mar 14:44. Along with a kiss, what else did Judas say to Jesus to deceive Him about his true intentions? See Mat 26:49 and note that the greeting Judas used has the connotation of gladness or joy, and is translated most commonly as rejoice.
Consider again that betraying a friend for one’s own benefit is the ultimate expression of mankind’s sinful and selfish nature; cf. Job 2:4. Should we therefore be surprised that such treachery becomes increasingly prevalent as people turn their hearts away from God and His truth to follow the world and its prince? See Jer 9:1-8, Rom 1:28,31, 2Ti 3:4. In what way is the current prevalence of divorce also a manifestation of the treachery that results as people turn their hearts away from God to the world? See Mal 2:13-16. How important must truth be to us as Christians to avoid falling into such treachery ourselves? See Pro 27:6, Eph 4:15,25. Although we seek to be wise as serpents while remaining innocent as doves, considering Jesus’ own example from one of His closest disciples, should we be surprised if we too become victims of such treachery and discover that while speaking peace, others close to us were actually setting an ambush for us in their hearts? Cf. Mat 10:21, 24:10. Are we like that, or do we speak truth with love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith (1Ti 1:5)?
Why was the sign necessary that Judas had worked out with those to whom he was betraying Jesus? What does the sign indicate about Jesus not being well known to everyone by sight? What might it indicate about the relatively small portion of the population that had actually seen or heard Him speak? Note: although it was night, the Passover was always on the 14th day of the first month, i.e., the middle of the “moonth”, and so the moon would have been full for reasonable visibility. What does Judas’ sign also indicate about there being no distinguishing characteristic of Jesus’ appearance, whether a halo, a tattoo, or a white robe, that would distinguish Him from any of His disciples? Considering the darker complexion of people in that area of the middle east, should we imagine that Jesus had blonde hair and blue eyes as He is often depicted in Western characterizations? Besides clearly identifying Jesus, in what way would greeting Him with a kiss also have served to detain Him so that He might be seized and held fast as Judas directed, so as not to elude their grasp as He had many times before? What does this again indicate about the extent of Judas’ treachery and the guilt incurred by him?
It is clear that at the time they wrote, Matthew and Mark emphasized the treachery of Judas’ betrayal, likely as an apologetic against those who were using the betrayal by one of His own disciples to discredit the gospel message. Writing much later, what additional information does John report that he came to understand was significant, and why? See Joh 18:3-9; cf. Joh 8:24,28,58, 13:19, Exo 3:14. Would this have happened before or after Judas’ kiss? Think: just because Jesus identified Himself as the one they were seeking, was that necessarily a positive identification? I.e., might they not have feared that one of His disciples would pretend to be Him so He Himself could escape, as was certainly not unheard of? Cf. 1Ki 22:30.