After supper, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. While He was there, a large crowd arrived. They were armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent from the high priests and the elders of the church. Remember they had wanted to avoid crowds. However, they weren’t above using a crowd for their purposes … terrorism.
Judas led the group. The money jingling in his pocket, he must have felt he was now in the driver’s seat. No doubt he enjoyed the moment when all eyes were on him. This was indeed what satan had in mind. He wanted Judas to believe it possible that he was above Jesus. Everyone would remember Judas for a long time to come. He would have a legacy, and this was just the beginning.
Satan was correct in that perverted truth. Judas would be remembered eternally, but not in the way he thought. Judas had arranged a signal with those there to arrest Jesus. “The one I kiss is the Man,” said Judas. “Arrest Him.”
In Jesus‘ Time, it was a usual greeting between men to bestow a kiss on the cheek. The kiss was, not only a greeting, but also a gesture that meant, “Peace be with you.” Receiving such a kiss involved trust that the one bestowing the kiss was being truthful in their intent.
Judas kissed Jesus on the cheek. Jesus knew Judas’ intent. He knew all history would call Judas His Enemy. And so Jesus did what He had taught. He turned His Cheek and accepted Judas’ kiss.
Not only had Jesus taught His Disciples to turn the other cheek to an enemy, He had also told them plainly, they were not enemies. They were His Friends. John 15:15-17 records Jesus saying to His Disciples (including Judas):
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.
Instead, I have called you Friends,
for everything that I learned from My Father, I have made known to you.
You did not choose Me, but I chose you
and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit — fruit that will last —
and so that whatever you ask in My Name the Father will give you.
This is My Command: Love each other!
Judas was Jesus’ Friend. Jesus would not take back the Gift of Friendship He had given Judas. Matthew 25:50 records Jesus’ Response to Judas:
“Do what you came for, friend.”
Perhaps Judas would later remember the Words Jesus had spoken at another time,
Greater Love has no one than this: to lay down One’s Life for One’s Friends.
Satan’s mission is to kill and destroy. He uses people for his purposes. He lures, tempts, and actively recruits. He gets his subjects to renounce their allegiance to God. If they attempt to turn back, he regularly reminds them of how far they have fallen. He assures them the Father would never want to take them back. Many believe the lie and continue their allegiance to satan.
But many remember the days of love, joy and peace they have given up. They still hear the Voice of Jesus, their Shepherd, who has come out into the wastelands to search for them. The day comes when they meet the Master once again.
The pure Light of His Love illuminates every dark place … reveals every sin. The difference in how Jesus and satan treat exposed sin is stunningly different. Satan accuses. Jesus loves. Satan says the sinner has used up all his chances. Jesus says, “I want to forgive you. I will forgive you when you choose to give up your sins and follow Me. Though your sins be as scarlet, they can be as white as snow.”
That day came for Judas. When he saw that Jesus had been condemned, he realized the gravity of what he had done. He regretted what he had done. He tried to make it right in the only way he knew. He returned the money to the chief priests and acknowledged he had betrayed an innocent man. Judas still believed money could solve anything. However, the chief priests were unmoved by the money or Judas’ tears of remorse. Judas had served his purpose for them. They were done with him.
Overcome with remorse, Judas hanged himself. And so ends the story of Judas … or does it? Many have debated whether Judas went to heaven or hell. The Bible documents Judas’ remorse and his attempts to make up for his sin. However, simple remorse and our feeble attempts to “make up” for our sins will never be enough to save us.
The only Way to Freedom is to bow to our Lord and Savior and acknowledge Him as our Creator and the Only One with the Authority to forgive sins. Then we must truly repent of our sins and with His Grace and Forgiveness, stop sinning. We know Judas was sorry. We don’t know whether he ever acknowledged Jesus as his Lord and sought His Forgiveness.
While we may never forget Judas, what outshines Judas’ story is the Story of Jesus and the Tremendous Love He showed for His Friend, Judas. When Jesus talked to His Father from the cross, He said,
Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.
Was Jesus speaking of the crowd, the soldiers, the high priests and elders, Pilate, Herod, the disciples who fled under pressure … or Judas …
or was He seeing into the future and thinking of you and me?
Praise God! Jesus our Lord and Savior is even now looking for us,
and calling to us to come home!