Allowing the Betrayer Close Enough to Kiss You

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by John Mark who was a traveling companion of the apostle Paul and Barnabas. More specifically, today’s passage begins with the fifty-third verse of the fourteenth chapter and continues through to the fifteenth verse of the fifteenth chapter. “And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes. And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire. And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. But neither so did their witness agree together. And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? What is it which these witness against thee? But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the SON of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death. And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prohpesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands” (Mark 14:53-65).

            “And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: and when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them. And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilean, and thy speech agreeth thereto. But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak. And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called into mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept” (Mark 14:66-72).

            “And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto him, Thou sayest it. And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing. And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? Behold how many things they witness against thee. But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marveled” (Mark 16:1-5).

            “Now at that feast he released unto them on prisoner, whomsoever they desired. And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them. But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? And they cried out again, Crucify him. Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. And so Pilate, willing to consent to the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified” (Mark 16:6-16).

            AND THEY LAID THEIR HANDS ON HIM! AND THEY LED JESUS AWAY TO THE HIGH PRIEST! AND THE CHIEF PRIESTS AND ALL THE OCUNCIL SOUGHT FOR WITNESS AGAINST JESUS TO PUT HIM TO DEATH! AND THEY ALL CONDEMNED HIM TO BE GUILTY OF DEATH! AND SOME BEGAN TO SPIT ON HIM, AND TO COVER HIS FACE, AND TO BUFFET HIM,A ND TO SAY UNTO HIM, PROPHESY! AND THE SERVANTS DID STRIKE HIM WITH THE PALMS OF THEIR HANDS! When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find Jesus having already been seized and taken hold of by those whom Judas Iscariot had brought into the garden with him when he betrayed the person of Jesus the Christ. It is absolutely important that we recognize and understand the words which are found within this portion and passage of Scripture, for I have previously written concerning the convergence of the timing of God and the protection of God converging together with the divine will of God. I previously wrote how there were countless times when the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people sought to lay hold on Jesus, and yet they would and could not do so because His time and His hour had not yet come. Throughout the four gospel narratives you will find and read how the religious system and establishment sought time and time again to not only ensnare and entrap Jesus in His words, but they also sought to find reason and occasion to falsely accuse Him. You cannot read the words which are found in the gospel narratives and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the public life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and the vehement hatred and animosity the religious system and establishment had toward Jesus. Time and time again they sought to accuse, condemn, judge and criticize both Jesus and His disciples, and they would do so claiming that they not only violated the sabbath day and its rules, but also the traditions of the elders. The four gospel narratives are replete with powerful and tremendous examples of how the religious leaders and the religious system sought time and time again to accuse, judge and blame Jesus and His disciples for not adhering to the traditions of the elders—and not only the tradition of the elders, but also violating the sabbath.

            The more you read the four gospel narratives the more you will be brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the public life and ministry of Jesus Christ and how within the gospels you will find the Jews persecuting Jesus and even seeking to destroy and put Him to death. Time and time again you will find the scribes, the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel seeking to act on their vengeance, act on their hatred, act on their animosity, act on their hostility, and act on all those thoughts, feelings and emotions which they had toward the person of Jesus Christ. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for you cannot understand that which is found within a portion of Scripture such as what is before us without and apart from recognizing and understanding this vehement and toxic hatred and poison the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel had for and toward the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand just how strong this hatred, animosity and hostility within the hearts of the scribes, the chief priests and the elders of Israel truly was, for it would fuel and propel them to continue to seek to ensnare and entrap Jesus in His words, as well as accuse and judge Him for allegedly violating the traditions of the elders, as well as the sabbath. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading the four gospel narratives how strong this hatred truly was within the hearts and souls of the religious system during the days of Jesus, for the religious system and its leaders would and could not tolerate the person of Jesus.

            I sit here thinking about and considering the words which are found within this passage and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the tremendous truth that one of the greatest reasons religion could not stand and could not tolerate the person of Jesus the Christ was because they would not and could not contain Him. As you read the four gospel narratives you will find the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of Israel, the Pharisees and the like seeking to ensnare and entrap Jesus with His words, and even accusing Him of violating the sabbath and violating the traditions of the elders. If there is one thing we have to pay close and careful attention to it’s that what we witness and what we behold is a powerful manifestation of the religious system seeking to place Jesus in a predefined and preordained box they had created, and Jesus would and could not be placed within that box. What’s more, is I would dare say that the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of Israel, and the religious leaders realized that they could not control the person of Jesus the Christ, and that despite and regardless of how often they actually sought to bring Him into the place where He would conform Himself unto their standards and their expectation He would and could not do anything along those lines. Jesus was one who moved and operated outside of the parameters of religion and the religious system, and in all reality we must needs realize and understand that religion itself was in a box and could not operate outside of and apart from it. Jesus was one who would continually and repeatedly operate outside of the box which the religious leaders and the religious system had indeed and had in fact created for themselves and had been bound to for several years and generations. Oh we would like to emphatically declare that one of the greatest dangers during the days and times of Jesus was the tyranny and oppression of Rome toward and against the people of Judaea, Galilee and Jerusalem, and yet what we must needs realize and understand is that there was an even greater tyranny and oppression that was present within and during those days—namely, a tyranny and oppression of religion and religious bondage.

            I find myself thinking about and considering the fact that had Jesus entered into the world during those days and times when Rome was the dominant authority and superpower within the earth and sought to overthrow their government, their reign, their authority, and their dominion, the entire religious system would have rallied behind Him. There is not a doubt in my mind that had Jesus come to the earth the first time and sought to completely and utterly cast off and overthrow the authority and dominion of Rome and its empire the chief priests, the scribes and the elders would have had no opposition, nor any type of offence, nor any type of quarrel with Him. I firmly believe that if and when you read the four gospel narratives you will find and encounter the tremendous and powerful truth that what you find within them is a Jesus who not only would and could not conform to the predefined box which they had ordained and appointed for Him, but neither would He rise up with the sole purpose of casting off the authority and dominion of Rome. The more you read the four gospel narratives the more you will be brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that Jesus had absolutely no desire, nor any intention of being a king during those days and at that time. Had Jesus come during those days seeking to overthrow the tyranny and control of Rome and its corrupt practices and the bondage and oppression it exercised against and upon Judaea, Galilee, Jerusalem and the people of those days the religious system would have never sought to destroy and crucify Him. The biggest and greatest reason the religious leaders and religious system sought to destroy Jesus was because He had come to engage Himself in a fight against different forms of tyranny, oppression, bondage and affliction. Oh it is true that Jesus did indeed and did in fact come during those days exercising a wonderful and powerful sense and spirit of authority, however, the authority He exercised had absolutely nothing to do with Rome, nor even with the kingdoms and empires of the world.

            Oh it is truly something worth thinking about and considering as you read the four gospel narratives that Jesus was manifested at the Jordan River and publicly proclaimed and declared to be the beloved Son of the Father in whom He was well pleased—not to overthrow and cast down Rome, but rather to overthrow and to begin a wonderful and powerful work of casting off and destroying those forms of bondage and oppression those present within Judaea, Galilee and Jerusalem were not entirely familiar with, nor even aware of. We have a great need to focus our attention on the four gospel narratives, for Jesus did indeed and did in fact come into the world exercising a certain and specific type of authority and dominion, however, the authority and dominion Jesus would exercise had absolutely nothing to do with world governments, world affairs, nor even the rule, the reign and the authority and dominion of nations and empires. What makes this all the more incredible when you take the time to think about it is how even with this being said we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus did indeed come and was indeed manifested that He might set up and establish a kingdom in the midst of the earth. Although Jesus would not cast off the tyranny and oppression of Rome during those days He would, however, and would nonetheless establish and set up a kingdom in the midst of empire. Pause for a moment and think about and consider the awesome and powerful truth that although Jesus would not and although Jesus did not seek to overthrow and topple the tyranny and oppression of the Roman Empire He would, however, establish and set up a kingdom in the midst of the world. Jesus would not deliver the people of Judaea, the people of Galilee, nor the people of Samaria and Jerusalem from the tyranny and oppression of Rome, however, that which He would do was establish a kingdom among them in their midst—one that would completely and entirely transform the landscape during those days. Although Jesus would not and although Jesus did not come to cast off thy tyranny of Rome, nor cast off the oppression of Rome, He would set up a kingdom right in the midst of it which would and could not be contained, nor controlled.

            I have to admit that I absolutely love what we find and what we read within these gospel narratives, for what we find here within them provide us with an incredibly powerful reality surrounding Jesus and how Jesus was publicly manifested in the midst of the earth that He might deliver men and women from a bondage and oppression they perhaps even weren’t aware of. I read the four gospel narratives and I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the public life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the fact that there was tyranny and oppression which was far greater, far deadlier, far more dangerous, and far more volatile than the tyranny and oppression of Rome. There were many of those during that time and during those days who could only see the tyranny and oppression of Rome and they even sought to rise up in the midst of those days to somehow create and wreak havoc in the midst of and against it. If you read and study the history of the days and times during those days you will find that there were certain times when individuals would gather and rally together others alongside them in an attempt to overthrow the Roman government with their authority and dominion among them in their midst. There were times when individuals would commit themselves to insurrections and riots during those days in a full-blown and large scale attempt to overthrow and cast off the government, the dominion and the tyranny and oppression of Rome. Even when we read of Barabbas we find that he was part of an insurrection which took place during those days and even murdered as a result of and in the midst of the insurrection. Barabbas was imprisoned at the same time Jesus was arrested and in the custody of the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of Israel, and the religious system because He sought to do what many might very well have thought Jesus would, could and should have done.

            As you read the narrative which is found within this passage you will find that when Jesus stood trial before Pontius Pilate the gospel authors and writers wrote how at the time of that particular feast Pilate would release unto them one single prisoner—whomever they would choose—and that prisoner would essentially be acquitted of all their evils and all their wrongdoings. Each of the synoptic gospels reveal the absolutely tremendous and astonishing reality that Pilate reminded those who stood before Him as Jesus was on trial in His presence how he would normally release a prisoner unto them—regardless of what that prisoner was guilty of. It is important that we recognize and understand this, for Scripture seems to indicate that Pontius Pilate sought to deliver Jesus from the trial which He stood, and sought to release Him into the midst of the people once more. I am absolutely and completely convinced that not only did Pontius Pilate find no guilt, no wrong, nor any malice within Jesus, but he also sought to release Him from the midst of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering how Pontius Pilate never sought, nor did he desire to condemn Jesus to death. There is not a doubt in my mind that when Pontius Pilate brought up and mentioned how he would normally release a prisoner unto and among the people at the time of that particular feast he sought to use that as the means to release Jesus unto and among them. I firmly believe that Pontius Pilate sought to release Jesus at that time and sought to deliver Him from the midst of the people. I am absolutely and completely convinced that Pontius Pilate sought to release Jesus of Nazareth at that time rather than condemning and sentencing Him to death, and yet the people were persuaded and moved to cry out for Barabbas. Oh there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if perhaps one of the greatest reasons why the people were persuaded to ask for Barabbas rather than Jesus was not only that Jesus might be crucified, but also because Barabbas seemed to fit into an agenda that was incredibly powerful and prevalent during those days.

            I am sitting here right now thinking about and considering the words which are found within this portion and passage of Scripture and I have to admit that I can’t help but think about the events which took place as Jesus stood trial before Pontius Pilate there in the midst of Jerusalem. I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that when Pontius Pilate sought to release a prisoner unto and among the people they were moved to ask for Barabbas instead of Jesus. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that the people chose to cry out for the release of Barabbas rather than Jesus, and cried out for the crucifixion and death of Jesus the Christ. Stop and think about how the people were moved to cry out for an insurrectionist who was even guilty of murder while at the same time calling for the death and crucifixion of the person of Jesus Christ. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that one of the greatest reasons why they would have cried out and did in fact cry out for the release of Barabbas was because Barabbas was one who demonstrated a willingness to seek to confront the tyranny and oppression of Rome. John Mark makes it perfectly and abundantly clear that Barabbas was guilty of associating himself with an insurrection which would take place during those days, and how he would even be guilty of murder as a direct result of the insurrection. Please do not miss the significance of this when you truly take the time to think about and consider it, for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people would persuade and move the people to cry out for the release of Barabbas rather than and instead of Jesus because Barabbas would and could fit into their agenda. Barabbas had demonstrated a willingness to rise up against and oppose the tyranny and oppression of Rome during those days and at that time, and therefore the people chose to call for his release rather than Jesus.

            It is truly something astonishing as you think about and consider the fact that the multitude of people would and could cry out for the release of Barabbas who was guilty of murder and guilty of insurrection, and how they would do it because Barabbas would and could fit into their agenda. Jesus was one who would and could not be controlled, nor was He one who could be coerced and manipulated. The chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people watched Jesus of Nazareth for three and a half years and during and throughout that time their hatred, their animosity and their rage toward Him would grow stronger and more powerful as they would indeed and would in fact seek to destroy Him. It’s actually quite interesting to think about and consider the fact that the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people would and could call for the release of a murderer and insurrectionist during those days and at that time because at least he had demonstrated a willingness to rise up against the authority, the dominion and the government of Rome. Oh, I can’t help but wonder what previous prisoner releases looked like during those days and at that time, and what types of prisoners were released back into the general population. What type of prisoners were released by Pilate at the time of the feast during previous years, and what crimes and offenses were they guilty of? Had Pilate released murderers, thieves, rapists, and the like back into the general population around the time of the feast of the Passover, and each year what might very well have been a notorious prisoner was released unto and among the general population. It is so incredibly powerful to think about and consider the words which are found within this portion and passage of Scripture, for the multitude of the people chose to have a murderer and an insurrectionist released unto and among them at that time rather than Jesus of Nazareth. Not only this, but they would also choose to deliberately and intentionally cry out for the death and crucifixion of the person of Jesus Christ rather than calling for His release being moved by the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people.

            The words found in this portion of Scripture are absolutely incredible when you take the time to think about it, for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that when Jesus was manifested during those days He did not and would not be manifested to cast off the tyranny and oppression of Rome. He would indeed and would in fact seek to set up and establish a kingdom in the midst of Rome, which is actually truly astonishing when you take the time to think about it. There were perhaps those during that time which thought and perceived how Jesus would and should have risen up against the tyranny and oppression of Rome, and yet instead of doing just that He would come preaching an entirely different kingdom which would be established in the midst of those days and at that time. What makes this truly astonishing and captivating when you take the time to think about is when you consider the fact that although Jesus would not seek to overthrow the tyranny, the oppression and the government which Rome exercised during those days and times, He would seek to introduce a kingdom within and in the midst of the Roman Empire—one that would not necessarily overthrow Rome, but which would actually bring about a transformation within and in the midst the Roman Empire. What is so ironic about the kingdom which Jesus came preaching and seeking to establish in the midst of the earth was that although it would indeed bring about transformation within and in the midst of the Roman Empire, it would not cast off, nor would it rise up against the authority, the government and the dominion of Rome. Nowhere within the four gospel narratives will you find the kingdom of heaven being a tool and an instrument which would and could have been used to cast off the authority, the dominion and the government of Rome. Oh Jesus would indeed and would in fact seek to establish a kingdom in the midst of the earth, and Jesus would in fact come to establish a kingdom in the midst of empire, and yet that kingdom would have absolutely nothing to do with changing political landscapes nor governmental atmospheres.

            It is with this in mind I would like to draw and call your attention to the fact that the kingdom of heaven was never intended, nor was it ever designed to change political landscapes in the sense of overthrowing and toppling governments, regimes, monarchies, and the reigns of kings, princes, presidents, and the like. When Jesus came into the world and came seeking to set up and establish the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth He did so not that He might introduce a manifesto whereby men and women would and could use it as a tool and instrument to rise up against the government and authority of Rome during those days and at that time. Pause and consider the fact that the kingdom of heaven was never designed, nor was it ever intended to be used as a political tool, nor as a weapon and instrument which would and could be used to somehow overthrow governments and powers which were present during those days and at that time. Although it would indeed be true that the gospel concerning Jesus would indeed reach the city of Rome, and although it was indeed and was in fact true that a church and local body of believers would indeed be established in the midst of Rome itself—the kingdom of heaven was never designed to bring down, nor overthrow Rome. When we read the gospel narratives which were written concerning the person of Jesus of Nazareth we find and discover that when Jesus stood trial before Pontius Pilate He would in fact speak of the fact that the kingdom He came to introduce and bring into the world was not of the world, and therefore would and could not operate the way kingdoms and empires would work and had previously worked. Even when Simon called Peter sought to raise his sword in defense of Jesus in the garden and struck off the ear of one of the servants of the high priest—not only did Jesus instruct Simon to put down the sword, and not only did Jesus heal the ear of this servant of the high priest, but so also would Jesus emphatically declare that those who lived by the sword would indeed and would in fact die by the sword. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how incredibly important this truly is, for the kingdom of heaven would never be manifested through violence, nor would it ever have as a tool and instrument in the midst of it the sword. Even when one of Jesus’ own disciples sought to raise up the sword in the midst of the garden Jesus would call for and command the sword to be put down rather than unleashed against those who had been ushered and brought into the garden.

            I absolutely love what is found within the four gospel narratives, for although Jesus would indeed and would in fact come to introduce and establish a kingdom in the midst of the earth, that kingdom was not one that would or could be used to overthrow political governments and regimes. Nowhere in the four gospels will you encounter and find the kingdom of heaven being used by the disciples and followers of Jesus to rise up in rebellion, insurrection and defiance against governments, dominions, rules and reigns. There is absolutely nowhere in the four gospels where you will find the kingdom of heaven being used, nor even being instructed to be used as a tool and instrument in the hands and hearts of the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ to rise up in rebellion, defiance and rebellion against governments and dominions during those days. You will never find Jesus speaking to His disciples and declaring unto them that they were to use the kingdom of heaven as a political tool and instrument to rise up against governments, rise up against authorities, rise up against dominions, rise up against powers, and the like. The kingdom of heaven was never designed, nor was it ever intended to be used as a tool and instrument in the hands of the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ as the means to rise up in opposition against Rome in an attempt to cast off the dominion and authority it exercised during those days and at that time. Although there were undoubtedly countless during those days who thought and perceived that Rome was exercising tyranny and oppression against the people the kingdom of heaven was never designed to be used as means to rise up against it to overthrow it. In fact, I would strongly caution and urge you to think about and consider the following words which are found within Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, as well as words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written by the apostle Paul concerning the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth:

            “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:3-12).

            “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? IT is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

            “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily, I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing” (Matthew 5:21-26).

            “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy rich check, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:38-48).

            “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:9-21).

            “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Ow not man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:1-8).

            I read the words which are found within portion of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the absolutely incredible truth that when you think about and consider the words and language contained therein you will be brought face to face with the fact that although Jesus entered into this world and set up and established a kingdom in the midst of empire—that kingdom was never designed, nor was it intended to be used as an instrument to overthrow and cast down that empire. The kingdom of heaven was never designed, nor was it ever intended to overthrow and topple the Roman Empire, nor was it ever to be used as means of rising up against it. The kingdom of heaven was set up and established within and in the midst of the earth, and was even set up within the hearts, the souls, the spirits, the minds and the lives of the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ. The kingdom of heaven was set up directly in the midst of the Roman Empire and it would be such that would be used to transform and not topple it. In fact, I would dare say that had Jesus come preaching a kingdom which would have toppled the Roman Empire rather than seeking to transform it and bring transformation unto and within it the religious leaders and system of that day would have never sought to destroy and put Him to death. The kingdom of heaven was introduced into the earth as a means to bring transformation in the midst of the Roman Empire—and not even necessarily an outward transformation, but rather an inner transformation within the hearts and lives of those who were living during those days. It is truly something incredible and powerful to read the words which are found within these portions and passages of Scripture, for they call and draw our attention to the awesome reality that the kingdom of heaven was never designed as a tool or instrument of vengeance, nor as a means of exercising hostility, animosity, anger, hatred, and the like. When we think about and consider the life and the narrative of Barabbas we must needs realize and understand that he was one who sought to engage in an insurrection as means to rise up against the tyranny and oppression of the Roman Empire. What’s more, is that he would even be found guilty of murder in the midst of and as a result of that insurrection, which would be the ultimate reason and cause he was imprisoned at the time of Jesus’ trial.

            I have to admit that I absolutely love the words which are found within the four gospel narratives—particularly when you come to the trial of Jesus as He stood before Pontius Pilate, for there is something truly unique about His willingness to be arrested in the garden, His willingness to endure the scorn, the ridicule and the physical harm He did at the behest of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel. It is truly something when you think about and consider how Jesus did not fight, nor did He resist when the small contingent of soldiers which Judas escorted into the garden came out against Him with swords and with staves. The Lord Jesus willingly and voluntarily allowed Himself to be taken and to be arrested and not only stayed the sword which Simon Peter had wielded, but He would also stay the angelic host in heaven. Jesus knew that He could ask the Father and His Father would have presently sent Him legions upon legions of angels to deliver Him from the midst of that oppression, and yet Jesus called for angels to be still and swords to be dropped. Oh how absolutely powerful and incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that the person of Jesus Christ would willingly and voluntarily allow Himself to be arrested, and would allow the hands of those whom Judas brought into the garden to be placed upon Him without showing any sign of resistance, fight or struggle. Nowhere in any of the gospel narratives will you find where Jesus struggled, resisted, or even fought against those whom Judas had led into the garden. What’s more, is that even though Jesus knew Judas would betray Him, He still allowed him to draw near to Him. Even more than this, is that although Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him He allowed Judas to draw near to Him and even refer to Him as Master. Not only this, but Jesus would also allow Judas to draw close enough to Him to actually kiss Him on the cheek knowing that it was a sign of betrayal. Pause for a moment and think about how Jesus allowed His betrayer to get close enough to kiss Him, He called for Simon Peter to drop the sword which was in his hand, and He even stayed and steadied the angelic host which was in heaven rather than asking the Father to send them to His aid and send them to His rescue.

            We know that there in the garden there was the convergence of the divine will of God with the divine timing and protection of God, as not only had the hour and time for the suffering of Jesus come, but so also had the Father temporarily removed the hedge of protection which was round about His Son. With this being said, however, we must needs realize and understand concerning Jesus in the garden that He willingly and voluntarily allowed Judas to draw close enough to call Him Master—and not only to draw near enough to Him to call Him Master, but also to kiss Him. What an incredibly powerful thought it is to think about how although Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him, He still allowed Judas to get close enough to Him to do it. Judas could have very easily have just led the small insurgent of soldiers into the garden and told them who Jesus was, however, he chose to do something which is actually quite remarkable when you think about it. Judas told those whom he would escort into the garden that he would give them a sign, and the one to whom he had given the sign was the sign they were to seize and lay their hands on. The sign which Judas would actually present unto those whom he had led into the garden was actually a kiss, which is even more intriguing when you think about the fact that Jesus could have refrained Judas from kissing Him on the cheek. Jesus could have refrained from allowing Judas to get close enough to even kiss Him, and yet Scripture reveals that Jesus did not resist Judas from drawing near to Him, nor even from kissing Him. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that not only did Jesus allow Judas to draw close enough to Him to call Him Master, but He also allowed Judas to get close enough to kiss Him. Essentially that which Jesus did was allow the kiss of the betrayer upon His check and allowed Judas to get close enough to Him to perform the kiss which would serve as the sign to those who would lay hold of and seize Him.

            It is truly something astonishing and remarkable when you take the time to think about what took place there in the garden, for Jesus allowed Judas close enough to Him to actually betray Him with a kiss. It wasn’t simply that Judas betrayed Jesus into the hands of the chief priests, scribes and elders of the people by leading the small contingent of soldiers and guards into the garden, but Judas actually betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Perhaps the underlying question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not the betrayal was in leading this contingent of soldiers and guards into the garden against Jesus, or whether the betrayal was found in the kiss. Regardless of how the betrayal occurred and regardless of what the betrayal actually was it is important for us to recognize and understand this particular detail concerning and regarding the betrayal of Jesus, for while we know that the suffering of Jesus could only be made possible because the hedge of protection from the Father in heaven was temporarily removed, and while we know that the time and hour of His suffering and death had indeed arrived, there was also the additional element of Jesus allowing His betrayer to draw near Him—and not only draw near to Him, but also to draw near enough to kiss Him. Pause for a moment and consider that more often than not it is only those who are closest to us who can truly betray us—and not only that it is only those who are closest to us able to betray us, but more often than not those who are closest to us are the ones who can truly betray us with a kiss. It wasn’t simply that Judas betrayed Jesus, and it wasn’t simply that Judas led an insurgent of soldiers and guards into the garden where Jesus and the other disciples were, for Judas actually drew near enough to Jesus to betray Him with a kiss. It was indeed the kiss—and not only the kiss, but the closeness that was directly connected to the kiss—that actually allowed and enabled the betrayal to be all the more striking and alarming. What’s more, is that for this betrayal to take place with a kiss suggests that not only was Judas able to get close enough to Jesus to kiss Him, but Judas was also allowed to get close enough to Jesus to kiss Him.

            Perhaps one of the greatest questions I can’t help but ask when I read this particular passage of Scripture is when you think about the fact that not only did Judas betray Jesus with a kiss, but Jesus actually allowed both the betrayal and the kiss. Stop for a moment and think about the fact of whether or not you would allow someone you knew was going to betray you to get close enough to you to actually carry out the betrayal. If you knew that someone was going to ultimately betray you—would you seek to guard and protect yourself so as to avoid them actually betraying you, or would you actually open yourself up to the betrayal and allow it to take place? If and as you read the words which are found within this portion of Scripture you will find that not only did Jesus allow the betrayal to take place, but Jesus also seemed to open Himself up to the betrayal. It wasn’t enough for Judas to lead those soldiers and guards into the garden of Eden, for Judas also had every desire and every intention of betraying Jesus with a kiss. In all reality I would dare say that the ultimate token and sign of the betrayal—in truth, the ultimate atrocity of the betrayal wasn’t so much leading those guards into the midst of the garden, but rather the kiss itself. It was the kiss that gave the appearance of fellowship, relationship and intimacy, and yet it was actually used as a tool and instrument of betrayal. What’s more, is that we must needs compare and contrast the kiss which Judas would bestow upon Jesus versus the kisses which the woman would bestow upon Jesus in the house of Simon the leper. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering when you read the gospel narratives for there would essentially be two different individuals who would themselves draw near to Jesus and bestow kisses upon Him. There would be Judas who would draw near enough to Jesus in the garden to betray Him with a kiss, and it would be the woman with the alabaster box and the precious ointment and perfume contained within it who would actually draw close enough to Jesus to kiss His feet.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the striking and alarming contrast which existed between the kiss and kisses of this woman with the alabaster box and the single kiss which Judas would bestow upon Jesus there in the garden. I find myself thinking about the fact that there were indeed two individuals within the gospel narratives which were permitted to get close enough to Jesus to actually kiss Him, while one would heap and bestow kisses upon His feet in worship, while the other would bestow a kiss upon His cheek in betrayal. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how absolutely incredible and tremendous this truly is, for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that what we find within the New Testament gospel narratives is a powerful picture of the Lord Jesus deliberately and intentionally allowing two individuals to bestow a kiss upon Him—one which would be bestowed upon Him in the garden and place of intimacy and prayer, while the other one would be bestowed upon Him in the house of religion. It is something worth thinking about and considering that Jesus would indeed allow a woman who was known and referred to as a sinner to draw near enough to Him to heap kisses upon His feet in worship and humility, and yet He also allowed one who was one of His own disciples to get close enough to Him in the garden to kiss Him. How absolutely astounding and remarkable it is to read the words which are found within these passages of Scripture and be brought face to face with the fact that there were essentially two distinct individuals within the gospel narratives who were able to draw close enough to Jesus to kiss Him, and yet one would be a kiss of worship and humility, while the other would be a kiss of betrayal. One would be a kiss from that woman who considered and perhaps even known to be a sinner, while the other would be a kiss from one who was actually a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ. Oh I can’t help but wonder what it was like when Jesus called Judas and how it actually happened. We don’t know how or when Jesus actually called Judas, however, I would dare say that Jesus deliberately and intentionally chose Judas knowing that He would ultimately betray Him into the hands of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel.

            The narrative surrounding the betrayal and suffering of Jesus is truly captivating and astonishing when you take the time to think about it, for not only was Jesus betrayed by one of His own disciples with a kiss, but so also was Jesus tried and maligned by the high priest. Stop and think about Aaron who was the first high priest ordained and appointed by the living and eternal God in the wilderness under the leadership of Moses, and how his son Eleazar would be chosen to serve as high priest in his stead after his death. It is something worth thinking about that when Jesus first stood trial that evening after having been betrayed into the hands of that insurgent of soldiers and guards, He would stand trial in the court of religion and before the high priest himself. It is something worth thinking about how Jesus was betrayed by a disciple and would stand trial before the high priest. The high priest who according to the Law of Moses was ordained to be the advocate for the people of Israel would in turn be one who would raise and lift himself up against the person of Jesus Christ. The high priest was one who held one of the highest offices in the land of Judaea, and yet it would be in that office the high priest would actually stand in a place where He would accuse Jesus, and would even call for witnesses against Him. How tragically low and far the office of high priest had fallen from the days and time of Moses and Aaron when Aaron himself served as the high priest among the people of Israel. What makes this all the more interesting is that when Jesus would stand before Pontius Pilate—although He did not come to the earth the first time to be king—He would in fact stand before Him as a King. Not only this, but when Jesus stood before the high priest on the night in which He was betrayed He would do so as the ultimate high priest—a high priest who was not ordained and appointed by men, but rather ordained and appointed by the living God. It is worth thinking about and considering when reading the words found in these passages how Jesus would not only be betrayed by one of His own disciples, but would also stand trial before the high priest at that time—that one who was in one of the most powerful offices within the land during the time.

            It is incredibly interesting to read the words found within these passages of Scripture, for the words we find within this passage of Scripture brings us face to face with the fact that Jesus would be betrayed by one of His own disciples—Judas Iscariot the son of Simon—who would not only enter into the garden, but would also lead an insurgent of soldiers and guards into the garden. It would be there in the midst of the garden those whom Judas escorted into the midst of it would seize and lay hold of Jesus as they would lead Him away out of the garden away from His disciples. We must needs recognize and pay close and careful attention to that which is found within these passages of Scripture as they highlight and underscore that when Judas entered into the garden he entered in with the sole intention of betraying Jesus-and not only betraying Jesus, but also betraying Him into the hands of the chief priests, the scribes and the religious leaders of that day. In addition to this, we see and understand that not only did Jesus know and understand that Judas would indeed and would in fact betray Him, but He also allowed the betrayal to take place. There in the garden Jesus held back the legions of angels which were undoubtedly at the edge of heaven ready to spring into action if the Father gave the command and authorization. It would be there in the garden Jesus caused the sword which was in the hand of Simon Peter to drop and fall to the ground as His kingdom and the kingdom of heaven would not be demonstrated and manifested with swords, or staves, or spears, or shields. Moreover, that which the person of Jesus of Nazareth would do was allow Judas to get close enough to Him to actually bestow a kiss upon Him—a kiss that would ultimately be the sign of betrayal. How incredibly interesting it is to think about and consider the fact that in the house of Simon the leper a kiss would be a sign of worship and humility, however, there in the garden a kiss would and could be a sign of betrayal. It would be in the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus would allow Judas to not only betray Him, but also get close enough to betray Him with a kiss. Even more than all of this we find Jesus almost inviting the betrayal and the arrest as He did absolutely nothing to resist or oppose it. Jesus did absolutely nothing to prevent the betrayal, nor anything to betray the arrest, and He did absolutely nothing to guard and protect Himself from it.

            Perhaps one of the greatest truths and realities surrounding this particular passage is that Jesus did absolutely nothing to keep Himself from Jerusalem knowing what would indeed and what would in fact await Him there. I absolutely love how Jesus never avoided going up to the city of Jerusalem knowing what would await Him there—knowing that He would be betrayed by one of His own, knowing that He would be handed over to the chief priests, scribes, and elders of the people, and knowing that He would suffering, be scourged and ultimately be crucified. Just like Abraham did not avoid going up to Moriah when God asked him to sacrifice his son, and just as the apostle Paul went bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem knowing what would befall him there, so also Jesus as the ultimate example would go up unto the city of Jerusalem knowing that HE would suffer and ultimately be crucified. It is absolutely incredible to think about and consider the fact that not only did Jesus willingly journey unto the city of Jerusalem, but He even allowed Judas to get close enough to Him to actually kiss Him to initiate the betrayal. We must needs realize and recognize that the betrayal of Jesus wasn’t ultimately complete until the kiss took place, and Jesus willingly and voluntarily allowed Judas to get close enough to be able to kiss Him. One might even say that Jesus invited, welcomed, and even embraced the betrayal, and had absolutely no qualms or quarrels with being betrayed by one of His own. Perhaps the question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we would be able to do the same thing. Would we as the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ willingly allow someone to get close enough to betray us with a kiss?

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find the betrayal of Judas taking place on two fronts—the first front being in close enough relationship with Jesus to know of the garden and lead soldiers and guards to it, and the second being close enough to Jesus in proximity to kiss Him. It wouldn’t be enough for Judas to simply lead these soldiers and guards into the garden and simply tell them who Jesus was, for Judas would also offer to give them a token and a sign. When we think about and understand the betrayal of Judas we must needs understand and recognize that Judas was close enough in relationship with Jesus to lead an insurrection into the garden against Him, and Judas would be able to get close enough in proximity to Jesus to actually kiss Him, thus giving the sign and token that Jesus was the One whom they were seeking. This actually calls and draws our attention to the incredible and tremendous truth of whether or not we would allow someone close enough to potentially betray us, and whether or not we would allow someone close enough to betray us with a kiss. Would you—knowing someone had every desire and intention of betraying you—allow them to get close enough to betray you with a kiss? Would you allow someone to get close enough to betray you with a kiss and actually allow them to kiss you on the cheek? We know that Jesus declared that if someone smites us on the one cheek we are to offer the other unto them, and I can’t help but wonder if the same applies to the kiss of betrayal. If someone kisses you on the one cheek and betrays you, would you be willing to turn and offer the other cheek to them. We have a great need to recognize and understand that Jesus willingly and voluntarily allowed Judas to get close enough to Him to actually kiss Him on the cheek knowing what that kiss would actually mean. We must needs realize and understand that Jesus was one who called for swords to be dropped, who called for the angels to be held back in the heavens, who allowed one to get close enough to betray Him with a kiss, and even allowed Himself to be seized and taken by those guards who entered the garden. There is something truly powerful about the person of Jesus Christ who was willing to accept and even embrace allowing Himself to be taken by the guards and soldiers that night, and offered absolutely no resistance whatsoever.

There is an incredibly powerful witness, testimony and example that is before us in the arrest and trials of Jesus Christ, for when we think about and consider the betrayal of Jesus we must needs realize and understand that He allowed Judas to get close enough to Him to betray Him with a kiss. Jesus allowed Judas to get close enough to Him knowing what his intentions were and knowing he was going to betray Him. Jesus called for Simon Peter to drop the sword after he had struck off the ear of the servant of the high priest refusing to allow His disciples to get caught up in the violence and vengeance. Jesus held back the angels in heaven rather than calling for the Father to send them unto Him to rescue Him. Jesus allowed Himself to be seized in the garden knowing that His arrest would indeed and would in fact lead to His suffering, and ultimately His death. What’s more is that Jesus did not resist those who came into the garden and laid hold of Him, nor did He struggle with them to deliver Himself. Jesus never fled from those who entered into the garden, and He went with them knowing that they would put Him on trial and ultimately condemn Him to death. Furthermore, Jesus did not open His mouth in slander, in complaining, in grumbling, in murmuring, or even in gossip and malicious talk concerning those before whom He would stand. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering when you read the words found in these passages of Scripture, for not only did Jesus not resist, but neither did Jesus open His mouth. Jesus took, accepted and even embraced that which was before Him knowing that it would ultimately lead to His death. Jesus knew that His betrayal would lead to His suffering and that His suffering would lead to His death, and yet He never resisted any part of the process. What a truly awesome and powerful reality surrounds the person of Jesus Christ and how He willingly and voluntarily embraced the betrayal, the suffering, and even the death knowing that He would not only fulfill the divine will of the Father, but also that the Father would raise Him from death to life, knowing that the joy set before Him was salvation and redemption for you and I, and knowing that He would return unto His Father in heaven and would be seated down at the right hand of all power.

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