Let us open our Bibles to Mark 14 vv.43-46
Immediately while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who were from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now he who was betraying Him had given them a signal, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him and lead Him away under guard.” After coming, Judas immediately went to Him, saying, “Rabbi!” and kissed Him. They laid hands on Him and seized Him.
This is where we have the sad account of the arrest of the Messiah. Now, notice the number of people who came to arrest Him. Mark speaks of a crowd with the religious leaders, but how many is a crowd? John defines the crowd for us for he speaks of the Roman cohort which is composed of 600 soldiers in addition to some officers of the chief priest, which may have been Temple police, the sho’arim who guarded the Temple Mount. In addition, there might have been some Pharisees with the chief priests and the elders. That is a lot of people coming to arrest one Man. This reflects the great impact that Yeshua had on this Passover.
We remember the Triumphant Entry, how people along with children welcomed Him as the Messiah of Israel singing messianic songs. Perhaps the authorities expected an uprising from these people. Or perhaps Judas, who was among them, warned them that Yeshua was able to do some extraordinary miracles, like walking on the water, or commanding nature, like He did the storm. Did they figure that with such a great number of soldiers, they would intimidate the Messiah or frighten the winds?
As this army of people approached Yeshua, they asked Him for His identity, to which He answered I AM and at this reply, we read that, They drew back and fell to the ground. John 18:6. I AM is the name of God and at the sound and presence of the divine, they moved back and fell to the ground; that is the introduction to the arrest of the Messiah.
And a most extraordinary thing is that nothing is reported of the moments after their fall, because right after, things resumed as if nothing happened at all. Right after this event, they asked again for His identity. It looks like they did not even realize it. Reading the text, it as if all this was done just for us so that we realize the power of our Savior, and that He is Master of all events and that if He allowed man to arrest and crucify Him it is because He loves us so much, even to the uttermost, as He said when He began the Passover meal.
And in this account, we see Judas Iscariot who is very engaged and seems so eager to have Yeshua arrested. His presence here was needed because the Romans required a formal accusation before arresting anyone. And so, here is Judas with no shame. He walks right up to Yeshua and kissed him. The grammar in the Greek indicates that Judas kissed Him many times, as if he was finally fulfilling a long-kept dislike or hatred. And so, they laid hands on Him and seized Him. Kissing a rabbi, a name he called Yeshua, was usually considered a great sign of respect but here, it is turned into an offense toward Yeshua and toward the Word of God. Kissing or embracing the Messiah, is what David asks everyone to do. This is how the Book of Psalms, which describe our relationship with God, begins: Kiss the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him! Psalm 2:12
Who is the Son? The Messiah Himself. He was known as the Son even to David, a thousand years earlier. And they knew, as they know today, that this Psalm speaks of the Messiah. The Targum on Isaiah, the Bibles they read at the time, and the Babylonian Talmud (Sukkah 52a.) both quote this Psalm 2 and attributed it to the Messiah. The Talmud says: Our Rabbis taught, The Holy One, blessed be He, will say to the Messiah, the son of David [and then they quote Psalm.2 and say… (May he reveal himself speedily in our days!). These rabbis also have a desire to see the Messiah. Notice the words in this text May he reveal himself speedily in our days! Judas’ kiss not only betrayed the Messiah but went against the very words of the Psalm by making a mockery of the kiss. Judas’ kiss may have been the sealing moment for him when he signed on for the wrath of God.
And at the time, they spoke of another similar kiss, Esau’s kiss. When Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, meets Esau after many years apart, the Scriptures say that they both ran to each other and Esau fell on Jacob’s neck and kissed him and they wept (Gen.33:4). The account seems genuine, however, considering that from Esau came some very cruel enemies of Israel, the Edomites along with the Amalekites, and considering that the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, it is hard to imagine Esau’s sincerity. And so, the scribes did not believe Esau’s sincerity and so in the Bible, the word kiss is written with many dots over it. That is unusual, but it indicates that they did not believe Esau. Some even said that he bit Jacob, for the word kiss and bite sound the same; nashak and nashach. So, such was Judas’ kiss, like a nashach, the bite of the serpent.