While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, “Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?” – Luke 22:47-48
Why does Judas choose a kiss to betray Jesus when he could have simply flagged Jesus down for the crowd as the guy to arrest? Why this display of intimacy, affection and love at the very moment of betrayal?
Theologian in Residence of Foundations for Laity Renewal Mark Roberts speculates on this question. He writes, “I wonder if Judas was saying to Jesus: ‘I’m doing this because I committed to the coming of the kingdom. I’m forcing your hand, Jesus, so that you’ll reveal your true messianic ministry and call up legions of angels to defeat the Romans.’ Or perhaps Judas’ kiss meant: ‘I once believed in you, Jesus. I loved you. But you betrayed me. You held out the promise of the coming kingdom and I bought it completely. But then you started talking about your death, just like a defeated man. And everything started to unravel, including my hopes for you. So I still love you, Jesus, but I can no longer support you because you betrayed me and our cause.'”
We can only ultimately speculate about Judas’ motivations, but ours can be easier to locate. How many times have we publicly identified ourselves as friends of Jesus but in our actions betrayed allegiance to Him? How many times do we seek to domesticate Jesus- turning him into the authorities, so to speak- when by all outward appearances we claim to follow Jesus (rather than the reverse)? What keeps us from telling the truth about who we are and who God is?
Jesus quickly and clearly sees through all our false pretenses. He knows our hearts better than even we can know them.