By Michael E. Brooks
“But Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?'” (Luke 22:56 NKJV).
Our newspaper in Bangladesh reports pollution of the banana crop through spraying the trees and young fruits with illegal, disease causing hormones. Thousands of tons of bananas are produced in three districts, and the practice of spraying with these chemicals to enhance growth and ripening is evidently widespread in those regions.
As I read these reports, I felt outraged, not just because of the callous greed of these producers, but also by the pollution and perversion of a food that I have always associated with good health. What is healthier than fresh fruit? I feel a certain amount of justification when I eat a banana instead of a candy bar or bag of chips. Now, suddenly, I must beware even of that.
It is one thing to be attacked by an enemy. It is far worse to be betrayed by a friend. The physical damage may seem the same, but the emotional and psychological harm is far greater. When Jesus was arrested in the Garden, his captors were his avowed enemies, the Priests and Pharisees. But, they were led and aided by one of his own closest disciples, Judas.
Even that fact does not indicate the sheer depth of the disloyalty, however. Judas was not content to simply point Jesus out from the shadows. Rather he approached him and kissed him. He used the most intimate and trusting of symbols of friendship to deliver his teacher to those who hated him. Jesus’ response reveals the depth of his hurt – “With a kiss?” He could well have said, “Judas, did you have to do it that way?” He could not possibly have stated the degree of his betrayal, the shallowness of his attachment to Jesus, more plainly.
Our proverb, “with friends like that, who needs enemies?” is often stated as wry humor. The fact is that there is no more deadly and dangerous enemy that one who has been or pretends to be a friend. No action is so harmful as one which is normally associated with good. No one poisons vinegar. Rather they choose a tasty and pleasant drink.
So it is that Satan attempts to pervert our best behavior to his own use. Prayers may become selfish. Worship may become prideful. Good deeds may be done for one’s own glory (Matthew 6:2). We continue to appear to be faithful, but have forgotten God (Matthew 13:14-15).
A kiss is a symbol of affection and love. It is honored and valued between those who share those bonds. Without love, however, the kiss is an unwarranted presumption, at best. Let us offer our best and our most intimate expressions to God. But let us assure that they are sincere.
By Michael E. Brooks