The Apostate Judas Kiss

Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him.” Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. (Matthew 26:48-49)

The Judas Kiss is one of the most illustrated themes in art, one of the most famous kisses of all time, the most devastating scene among friends there could ever be. The horror of it is an eternal warning to all of us. How so you ask?

Kiss of Judas (1304–06), fresco by Giotto, Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, Italy

Because apostates inwardly operate for satan with an outward veneer of loving Jesus. It is a horrendous life, outwardly of unity with the brethren under the salvation from and sanctification in Jesus, but inwardly as a ravening wolf out to lie, destroy, and exploit the brethren.

Judas spent three and a half years directly being taught and loved by the God of the Universe. He was close witness to miracles, the glory of God, and pure truth. He  was given a position of trust, being the treasurer of the group. Despite Judas’ hate for Jesus, he masked it so well that when Jesus said at the Last Supper that one of the 12 will betray him, no one suspected Judas. That is usually how it is with apostates.

In studying the verse above I learned that not only did Judas kiss Jesus, but the Greek word used for kiss means fervently and for a while. Judas probably did so because it was dark (no streetlights 2000 years ago) and it took a few seconds for the soldiers to identify correctly who Jesus was. In any case, the display of love which was actually hate for our Savior, is enough to crash the mind.

The kiss scene has me thinking a lot these past two days on the nature of apostasy. This thought is helped along by a couple of wonderful sermons I’d heard a while back which I never forgot. A Tale of Two Sorrows (comparing the sorrow of Peter and the sorrow of Judas) and “Common Men, Uncommon Calling: Judas Iscariot, Part 1

Apostates don’t come in all fire and noise. The bible says they creep in. They come unnoticed. (Jude 1:4) They bring heresies secretly. An apostate will come in apparent love, not in identifiable hate.

The most devastating attacks, however, that come on the truth come from those who claim to love and believe it. The devastating attacks come from those who say they believe it, are attached to it and, in fact, assault it. … Thomas Manton said they are libertines who like worms bred within the body seek to devour the entrails and eat the very heart. They cause people to turn aside from the truth. They cause people to be corrupted. They cause the fellowship of the faithful to be lost. They call worship…they cause worship to become a travesty. The church turns itself over to fables and follies. MacArthur: “Unveiling the Apostates

They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good. (Titus 1:16)

More broadly, a Judas kiss may refer to “an act appearing to be an act of friendship, which is in fact harmful to the recipient.”

For example, when resurrected Jesus appeared to Christian-persecuting Saul/Paul, Jesus said, “Why do you persecute Me?” (Acts 9:4). Apostates claim to love Jesus but by their actions deny Him. (Titus 1:6). They harm Jesus by blaspheming Him. They harm Him by uttering praises from a polluted heart.

With all that there is in pondering the Judas Kiss, the one thought that I kept coming back to is the evil softness of it. So often when I say “So and so is a false teacher” I am given a reply of, “But they speak of Jesus…”. Judas spoke of Jesus, lived with Jesus, worked for Jesus, for years. Not one of his colleagues thought Judas was the betrayer. Not one gave a second thought to allowing Judas to handle the purse. Judas was only unmasked at the last moment.

I found Charles Spurgeon’s sermon of the Judas Kiss. His thoughts perfectly encapsulated what I was trying to get at.

Judas betrayed his Master with a kiss. That is how most apostates do it; it is always with a kiss. Did you ever read an infidel book in your life which did not begin with profound respect for truth? I never have. Even modern ones, when bishops write them, always begin like that. They betray the Son of man with a kiss. Did you ever read a bank of bitter controversy which did not begin with such a sickly lot of humility, such sugar, such butter, such treacle, such everything sweet and soft, that you said, “Ah! there is sure to be something bad here, for when people begin so softly and sweetly, so humbly and so smoothly, depend upon it they have rank hatred in their hearts.” The most devout looking people are often the most hypocritical in the world.

Apostates don’t reject the truth with a fist. They reject the truth with a kiss.