Palm-Passion Sunday, yr.B, 4/9/06

“Betrayed With a Kiss”

ur Gospel Lection for this Sunday before Easter, a day that we call Palm; and or, Passion Sunday, is from Mark fourteen. I have included the text below. It is a part of the passion story as it records the betrayal and arrest of Jesus in The Garden of Gethsemane. 

The betrayal and arrest is included in all four gospels. As I have said many times before, the so called “Synoptic Gospels,” Matthew, Mark and Luke are typically together in their similar versions of the life of Christ. They are close in this text; however John also includes some of their information and adds his remembrances of the events during the last day of Jesus’ life.

43. Just as he (Jesus) was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.  44. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: "The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard." 45. Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, "Rabbi!" and kissed him.

In our American Culture we think of a kiss as a special act of affection. Typically, men do not kiss each other, unless it is a special relative or friend, and then the kiss is on the neck or ear, in case you miss. Yet, Russian men, and some Eastern Europeans, do kiss right on the mouth. Richard Nixon sent word ahead to Nakita Khruschev that there would be no kissing on his Official State Visits to The Soviet Union. Although Palestinian practice was for some “wet greetings” were permissible, Jesus would not have kissed all the soldiers. However, Judas arranged to kiss Jesus as a way of pointing him out to the arresting officers that he had betrayed Jesus too. Betrayal with a kiss seems to be an especially treacherous way to identify an enemy. Matthew also adds Mark’s word “Rabbi,” a term of respect and endearment.

Some of you have asked about the current “Gospel of Judas,” that has been in the news this week. It is just one of hundreds of non-canonical gospels, or later histories of the life of Christ. It was done about 300 years after Christ and not during the first years following Jesus’ Ascension back into Heaven, as were the Synoptic Gospels. I have read that this non-accepted gospel purports that Jesus asked Judas to betray/identify him. That is not a major conflict, but it is not in any of the accepted gospels.

The four gospels in our Bibles do not follow each, but do not contradict. For example, John alone identifies the disciple that drew a sword was Peter, who cut off not just and ear, but the right ear. Mark just says “his ear.” (V.47)

46. The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47. Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.  48. "Am I leading a rebellion," said Jesus, "that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me?  49. Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled." 50. Then everyone deserted him and fled. (Mark 14: 43-50, NIV)

The soldiers would have recognized Jesus anyway. Verse 49, above, says “Every day I was with you…”  Perhaps, Jesus had seen a glimmer of faith in the eyes of some of the soldiers as he had preached to the masses.

Jesus adds the line, “But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”  This means that somebody had to arrest him and that he would not hold it against the soldiers.  They were not personally responsible.

But we are personally responsible because we have the rest of the story. Jesus is calling us to respond to the story of Jesus’ humiliating arrest, trials, torture and finally His being nailed to a Cross and died. Confronting this story it reminds us in a profound way that God loved us enough to do all of this for us, and that we are somehow made to feel right with Him.  If we have this Ok-ness within our soul we are experiencing what John Wesley called, “The witness of the Spirit.” 

Verse fifty records that “everyone” in The Garden of Gethsemane on that fateful night “deserted Jesus and fled.”  But not us! The Passion of Christ has regenerated, reformed, refreshed and restored our lives. It took one who was despised, rejected, betrayed and crucified to be our Savior. 

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
Palm-Passion Sunday, yr.B, 4/9/06