Judas Kiss and Us

Rev. Jeff Wood, First Presbyterian Church of Sebastian

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Rev Jeff Wood



  • In some cultures, people greet each other with a kiss.  That kiss-greeting must have been somewhat customary in Palestine two thousand years ago.  I say that because Judas kissed Jesus in greeting and with that, betrayed him.That kiss did two things, both contributors to the betrayal.  One, on a dark night dimly lit with torches, it identified Jesus to the guards.  Which of these bearded men in the garden’s shadows is really Jesus.  Judas, who knew them all, answers, “The one I kiss.”

    The second thing is perhaps less apparent to most of us.  What we do not realize readily is that in a community with rabbis, in a community with hierarchies, in that community of Jesus and Judas, greetings had a protocol to them.  Specifically, a student never initiated the greeting with the rabbi.  He would greet the other students in the presence of the rabbi and then wait to be greeted by the rabbi.  It was a “save the best to last” sort of thing.  But here Judas initiates the greeting.  And in so doing makes himself equal to Jesus.

    Judas essentially said, “Jesus, you handle things and I handle things.”  “Jesus, you have plans and I have plans.”  “Jesus, you have wants and I have wants.”  “I’m pressing ahead, thank you very much.”  There it is – my way over your way, my wisdom over your wisdom, my wants over your wants.

    There’s an oft-told story of a captain at sea who sees a light ahead and radios commands for that vessel to get out of the way.  The reply is that the captain and his vessel must turn out of the way.  Indignant, the captain bellows his rank into the radio with orders to turn out of the way.  The reply comes, “I don’t care what your rank is, this is a lighthouse and you better turn out of the way.”

    In the beginning, most all of us humans, assert our wants and wisdom, period.  But then there is God and the question of whether we will have his way for our own or our way for our own.  Ours may, most likely, ending up crashing.

    Stay aware of your consciousness of God.  When you sense tension with your way over his, take it as wisdom not to go the way of Judas.

    Rev. Jeff Wood, First Presbyterian Church, Sebastian FL 32958

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