Matthew 26:47-56 Part 1


Now that Jesus has been vexed so severely… now that He has been isolated from men and from God – rejected; under the ban; excommunicated; receiving the sin of the world, and so near agonizing death that an angel was sent to hold Him together (and that so that He might finish the suffering), He is ready now to deliver Himself into evil hands.  Deliver Himself.

The disciple John would later write what Jesus said about that (John ten, verses seventeen and eighteen):


“Because of this the Father loves Me, that I lay down My life that I may take it again; no one takes it from Me, but I from Myself lay it down, and I have authority to take it again.  This Commandment I received from My Father.”


He received the Commandment, therefore He had the authority!  We need to talk about that some, don’t we?

But Jesus has “watched” and He has “prayed”, and He did not submit to the entrapment; He is banished and abandoned by God and men; and the storm of wrath and judgment is about to break loose upon Him as He’s isolated out for sacrifice.  He is being delivered over by one of the twelve… but He lays down His Own life that He may take it again.  He has that authority because He received that Commandment from His Father.  (That “John” passage alone ought to destroy any dispensational notion that the mission of Jesus failed… resulting in some “pause” in prophetic fulfillment!)

But He is selected as the one (and only) sacrifice to shed blood for the many.  And now they come for Him – with swords and clubs!  And they’ve found one who will point Him out and deliver Him; and that one is one of the twelve!  (Matthew keeps saying that over and over.  And the more he says it (or the more it’s repeated) the more intensity it sustains.)

It’s very late at night… and it’s dark.  What little light there is (other than heavenly lights) comes maybe from the watchmen on the walls.  And the trees in the olive grove shut most of that out.

And a large crowd, with little noise or commotion, has made its way out of the city and down the side of Mount Zion and crosses the brook Kedron in the valley.  As Matthew says, these men were from the priests and elders of the people.  They were temple police and guards and underlings of the Sanhedrin.  (It’s generally thought that there were a couple of hundred of them.)

And being quietly led by one man the crowd finds the right spot to enter the grove called Gethsemane.  Jesus has left eight of the disciples somewhere close to where they entered the trees; but they were probably asleep too.

But deeper in the grove Jesus is very aware of what’s happening.  Having been very near agonizing death, and having been strengthened for more suffering by the angel, He now rises from the dirt for the third time and awakens His three disciples (who have not watched and prayed).

Having been through great suffering He is stronger now.  And having roused the “three” He alerts them to the fact that “the one who delivers <Him> had neared.”  And while He was speaking and gathering up the disciples, Judas came; and with him was the large crowd bearing weapons.

Now, Judas himself, according to Matthew in verse forty-eight, had previously chosen a sign by which he would identify Jesus for the crowd.  Rather than having all these men wondering which one of these twelve people was the one they were after; and rather than risk the possibility of Jesus slipping away from them in the confusion and the darkness, he had taken the time to devise a positive identification of Jesus.  And he had schooled the crowd about what he was going to do!

Jesus had already demonstrated (several times) an uncanny ability to elude harm and capture.  But there had been a time in which Jesus wouldn’t deliver Himself up.  Now it was His hour to “deliver Himself”.

Remember verse twenty-four:


“The Son of Man goes away even as it is written about Him; but woe to that man through whom the Son of Man is delivered up.  As far as he is concerned it would have been good if that man had never been born.”


Judas… identified in the prophetic Word (and a thief at heart); troubled by the irredeemable loss of three years of his life – all without gain; offended by the chastening he received at Simon the leper’s house; and confirmed as a “devil” by Jesus at the institution of the New Covenant meal… Judas has now vengefully cast himself into a bold, leadership role.

He has trained the Sanhedrin’s “mob” and given them a “sign”; and now he leads them to the specific place; and (verse forty-nine) he walks right up to the Man, greets Him with a common greeting, and “kisses” Him.  Positively identified… standing right in front of Him and all eyes on Him (and possibly surrounding Him), there is no opportunity that Jesus might be mis-identified or for Him to escape.

Judas had made the plan, chosen the sign, and executed everything perfectly.  He had boldly and vigorously done everything right.  He had proved his “mettle” by audaciously walking right up to the One Who had been his Master for three years.  No doubt he was undaunted and fearless and savage… and a hypocrite!

“Hail, Rabbi.”  And he kissed Him affectionately!

One of the twelve….

We know that already.  But the Gospel writers (all of them) keep repeating it… “one of the twelve….”  “One of the twelve.”  “One of the twelve.”  Not a soldier.  Not just an acquaintance.  Not one of His followers.  Not one of the disciples.  “One of the twelve.”

How significant it is… one of the twelve.  The evangelists certainly thought so when they wrote their Gospel accounts.  Holy Spirit certainly thought so when He inspired the accounts.

It is true that the totality of a year is made up of twelve months; but the use of “twelve” is founded almost exclusively on the number of the tribes of Israel.  It denotes the people of God in its totality.  And the care of the people was shared by all twelve of the tribes – even to a rotation of the common upkeep of the sanctuary – a rotation of one year… one tribe per month.  And when the elders of the people met there were representatives of all the people there.  And a goodly percentage of the makeup of the Sanhedrin were the elders of the tribes.

In the New Testament, when Jesus explains to them that the Kingdom is upon them, the commission to the disciples was to go out and find the lost sheep of the twelve tribes of the “house” of Israel.

In Revelation chapter twelve the woman there signifies the Daughter of Zion – the Church.  And she has a crown with twelve stars in it.  So we see the connection between covenantal Israel and the Church.  The Church of Jesus Christ is the totality of the people of God – redeemed by His blood.  And those great multitudes in the New Jerusalem are significantly described in twelves and multiples of twelves – recalling the covenantal totality of the twelve tribes of Israel!

God, you see, has described His unconditional election and the consummation of His work of salvation… in twelves!  And Jesus appointed twelve disciples.

Israel had twelve patriarchs, and twelve tribes.  And its light, from Mt. Zion, was to have dominion over the world.  By the appointing of twelve disciples, Jesus followed the pattern of Israel in establishing the Church.  From “the twelve” patriarchs of the Church the world would be filled with the knowledge and glory of God.

In His high priestly prayer (John chapter seventeen), Jesus prays fervently for those whom the Father had given Him.  He had lost none of them – except the son of perdition, in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.

One of those whom He had appointed….  One of the totality.  One of the completion.  One from the pattern of harmony established by God the Father for the salvation of His covenant people… one of the twelve!  That left eleven.

Never mind that Matthias was elected.  Never mind that Paul made thirteen… those involve other issues.  “One of the twelve” was a son of perdition, and he delivered the Son of God to be crucified.  And who’s to say how much weight was added to the suffering of Christ that the covenantal pattern was broken?  See how God the Father tried and punished His Son?

How much of a blow to the face of Jesus was it that the appointed, intimate disciple of Christ, one of the perfect “round” of twelve, delivered Him into the hands of His enemies with an affectionate kiss?  The effect would have had to be so much greater than the actual blows He was to soon receive from the soldiers.

The creation mandate was in twelves!  And recreation and salvation was in twelves!  And the perfections of Christ would have demanded twelve.  No.  Suffer.  It isn’t twelve… its eleven.

The kiss.

Luke adds Jesus saying to Judas, “Do you deliver up the Son of Man with a kiss?”  Not a repeated kissing, as some translators would have it.  The intensification here in the Greek means a hearty, affectionate kiss.  The kiss of a confident, arrogant hypocrite.

But Jesus uses the “Son of Man” term again from Daniel chapter seven at verse thirteen.  The Son of Man Who ascends to the right of God the Father to rule the nations….  “Do you deliver the Son of Man with a kiss?”  This is profound.  One – the Messiah!  The other – “one of the twelve”.  Lo, one of the twelve.”

As a mode of salutation between friends and relatives, there is nothing unusual about the kiss in the Scriptures.  It appears in a number of places and is seen as a token of affection.  It also appears as the artful token of the seducer and the hypocrite, professing a love which they do not have (Proverbs seven, and Second Samuel fifteen).

In the early Church, due to the extraordinary outburst of the love and affection called forth by the resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Spirit, kissing became a natural token of the relationship enjoyed in the body of Christ.

Paul (three letters) and Peter (once) exhort the brethren to “salute” each other with an holy kiss (or a kiss of charity).  There is no direction in any of the epistles to restrict the holy kiss from being exchanged between sexes, although the practice gave rise many times to pagan criticism of the Church for being “too familiar” with each other’s spouses.

Although there was no mouth-to-mouth kissing (which is far too intimate and provoking for anyone except married couples) the reproaches of the pagans slowly diminished the practice of the holy kiss.  And it was discontinued.

But for centuries (especially in connection with the Lord’s Table), the kiss was exchanged as a token of reconciliation and concord between members of the Church.  It was called “the kiss of peace”.

The kiss was used in another sense in Scripture, though….  On a number of occasions we see it used as a “sign” – or a “mark” of homage and veneration to a ruler.  It was in respect and acknowledgment of the dignity one possesses as a result of being established by God!

In First Samuel chapter ten, Samuel, directly after anointing Saul king, kissed him.  And directly after the proclamation of the Divine appointment of “the Son” as King of Zion (Psalm two) comes the exhortation to “kiss” Him!  “Kiss the Son lest He be angry, and His wrath kindled but a little….”

There has been a more modern practice for some time of kissing the hand, or the ring, of a monarch or pope.  And I think that a case can be made in tracing that practice back to the ancient kings.

But the practices of depraved men find every conceivable way to deteriorate, don’t they?  Many idolatrous religions include kissing one’s own hand toward an idol, or toward the sun or the moon; or even kissing an icon – such as a crucifix.  And false prophets and teachers in the Churches are always on the lookout for a seduction!

So a practice established to give respect and dignity to God’s earthly rulers (on the one hand) and to express Godly affection in the body of Christ (on the other), is spoiled and contaminated by pagans, idolaters, hypocrites and seducers.

But I don’t usually like to give them anything!  Pagan reproaches against the Church shouldn’t bother us when we remain pure in motive and Godly in our actions!  The holy kiss is Biblical… it’s Godly… and I will continue to practice it in a very limited way; and I will teach it when it comes up in the text.

Not so the kiss of Judas.  In an act of perversion and hypocrisy the blasphemous kiss of affection destroyed the peace of the perfect “twelve” and delivered Messiah to His death.

If Judas was just a traitor (and no more), and if Jesus was just a man (and no more), then this was just an unfortunate incident concerning a repulsive turncoat.  There are many of those.

But Jesus Christ is God/man, selected from eternity to be the substitute sacrifice for the sin of the world!  And His suffering and death was the full payment for us.  Therefore He had to suffer in full!

Not only was He to be completely isolated from men; and not only was He to become sin and be abandoned by God the Father, but He was also to suffer the disintegration of the “twelve”.  Even the covenantal “twelve” was removed from Him.  And He was left with nothing but obedience.  “Will you obey Me now?  Will You still deliver Yourself up?”

What was His answer?  “Fellow, get on with it.”

Our Lord suffered and died with everything profaned.  Nothing was left to Him.  He could hold to nothing.  And by that He learned.  He delivered Himself over wholly – as was His Father’s will.

You see, this was the only way to break through to victory.  The complete suffering of Christ was the law of the cross.  Without it there is no Kingdom; without it there is no rebirth; without it there is no resurrection from death!

In order that it all might be of grace!  (We are in the realm of election, aren’t we?)  By God’s election, and because of His promise to Abraham, by grace we receive the promise.  Precisely by suffering so, and by dying, and by rising up from death, Jesus established a “better” Kingdom – one which is truly a “perfect twelve”; because all of those who are His are irrevocably saved by grace.

By God’s electing mercy the Kingdom consists of a community of rebirthed “little ones” who can kiss the Son in obedience – and none of whom can betray Him.  And the number of those called and gathered out by God is a “perfect” number – all saved to the uttermost by grace through faith.

And there was no dependance on the numbers of the tribes of Israel, or the months of the year.  The perfect number of the redeemed (for whom Christ prayed) depends solely on the gracious promise of God through election, and the complete payment for sin.


“Now”, He says, “of those whom Thou hast given Me from eternity I have lost none.  Among them there is not one child of perdition.”


This is indeed profound… and breathtaking.  And having heard it there must not be one who refuses to be rebirthed in Him.  Judas did not kiss Jesus Christ in vain.  If you refuse to be faithful you therefore must suffer the condemnation of the profane hypocrite and be swept from the tree like a dead branch.

But if you be in Christ, nothing can separate you from the love of God.

In this season which has been set aside for rejoicing and merriment, the celebration is about a King Who was born.  The Son of God was born Jesus… the Son of Man.

Having been anointed (which accounts for the second part of His Name – The Christ) He proceeded toward the horns of the altar to be stricken and afflicted by His Father and abandoned to death on the cross at the hands of all the nations.

And having been raised up out of death, He was received into the Glory-cloud/Throne-room of God and given His Crown.  He was made King over all creation because He obeyed the Father and paid for it.  What the first Adam lost by his rebellion, the Second Adam redeemed by His faithfulness!

What greater reason for celebration could there possibly be?  All who profess the name “Christian”, being baptized and churched, are obligated, by covenant, into faithfulness.  We are to love God with all our hearts, minds and strengths and obey His Commandments.  The government of all creation rests on His shoulders as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and He has ultimate claim on our duty and our faithfulness.

I would implore you as Christians to confess every case of unfaithfulness and negligence, and turn to do whatever is holy and right and just.  Praise and honor and esteem and glory to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, for He has wrought so great salvation from sin and death in our earthly father Adam, rebirthing us in the Second Adam – Jesus.


“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the Throne of David, and upon His Kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever.  The Zeal of Yahveh of hosts will perform this.”