Dr. Charles F. “Chuck” DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
MAY 29, 2016
26:47 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. 56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.
27:3 Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” 5 And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. 6 But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they took counsel and bought with them the potter's field as a burial place for strangers. 8 Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, 10 and they gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord directed me.”
— Matthew 26:47-56, 27:3-10, ESV
Friendly kissing has fallen out of vogue in American life. It is not uncommon, however, in other cultures or other epochs of time. Even biblical language, including five passages in the New Testament, encourages those in filial relationships to “greet one another with a holy kiss.”
On the last night of Jesus’ earthly life He received a kiss from a friend. But there was nothing holy about it. The fake friend was Judas Iscariot, and the kiss was a sign for soldiers to arrest the Lord, bind Him over for fixed trials, and send Him to His execution.
This kiss came with a high cost. Even though the sovereignty of God permitted it, the prophecies of Scripture predicted, and the grand plan of the gospel required it, the one who gave it should and does live in infamy. Let us consider the high cost of this counterfeit kiss from a friend.
The Cost of the Judas Kiss
The Judas kiss was the consummate false profession of faith. Judas was not a true believer, although he portrayed one in real life. Judas did not give to Jesus total commitment and control of his life, but rather sold Him out for selfish reasons and a sinful bribe. The ultimate cost was infinitely more than the going rate of thirty pieces of silver.
The Judas kiss cost Jesus His life. Admittedly, Jesus contributed to His own demise by choosing Judas in the first place, for He planned to take up His cross from the beginning. Such things are the prerogatives of the sovereignty of God. Man is still responsible, especially this man, Judas Iscariot. He was a “friend” in a loose sense (Jesus uses the impersonal, somewhat negative “etairos” rather than the more familiar, friendly “philos”), an opportunist, a thief, and most notably, “the betrayer.” His false friendship and kiss signaled the start of the suffering and sacrificial death of the Messiah, and the ends, by no means, justify the means.
The Judas kiss cost the disciples some disarray. Often when one member of the group fails, the whole group fails. Judas’ obvious betrayal was not obvious to the other disciples until the very moment it happened. Realizing one of their own had sold out the Lord threw them into discombobulation and error. Peter turned violent and they all turned coward. Again, every person is accountable for their own actions. But, seeing one of your most trusted members turn out to be a fraud is fraught with peril for everyone else in the group.
The Judas kiss cost Judas his life and his soul. His was the highest cost, as is always the case with a false profession of faith. Jesus died, but rose again, and now stands as King of kings and Lord of lords. The real disciples overcame their lapses and leapt into church history as the foundational builders of the body of Christ. Judas, however, met with a decidedly different and downward fate.
False professors of faith live in the worst of both worlds. Unlike plain old pagans, they cannot fully enjoy their thirty pieces of sin without a twinge or two of old-fashioned guilt. God doesn’t give guilt, He gives conviction that leads to repentance. Hypocrisy is the cause of guilt, and it eats away at the fleshly pleasures of this present life. A false professor cannot really enjoy life in this present world, and they will never see life in the new world to come. They are doubly dead, just like Judas Iscariot, who betrayed the Lord with the false kiss of a false profession of faith.
Judas paid a cost that others have been purchasing for two thousand years, anytime anyone makes a false profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Sure, no single false profession of faith could seem as significant as Judas’ infamous incident; but, add up all the false professions of faith that have been made in church history and you begin to tally an unimaginable cost to the cause of Christ, the Christian church, and countless souls.
The Cost of a False Profession of Faith
A profession of faith should be the most sacred moment in a person’s life. Like other special moments, however, it can be stolen by the manipulation of others or by the deceitfulness of one’s own heart. When it is genuine, a soul is saved, the church gains strength, and a reservation in Heaven is made. When a profession of faith is false, for any reason, the earthly and eternal costs are high.
A false profession of faith is costly to a world that desperately needs Jesus Christ. Ghandi famously said he would have become a Christian except for the Christians, but the Christians he referred to all had the last name of Iscariot. False professors of faith do keep other people from making true professions of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Hypocrisy, licentiousness, and judgmental moralism on the part of people who claim to know Christ is the number one reason others don’t. It takes a terrible toll on the world, and the church.
A false profession of faith is costly to the church. Unregenerate church members, especially those who weasel their way into leadership, weaken our witness, bring in heresies, prey on members instead of pray with members, and otherwise do more damage to the household of faith than a million terminates in an old weathered barn. Sometimes I imagine a church in the world without televangelists, unsaved Baptist deacons, and all of the inactive church members who show up to vote on some controversial issue. Without them the church would be Heaven on earth, but we cannot have it because of the vast multitude of false professions of faith.
A false profession of faith can cost a person misery in this life, and rob them of the everlasting life that is gained by real grace through real faith in the real gospel of Jesus Christ. Almost all of the people who I have suspected of being lost church members (I do not mean to judge, just inspect some fruit) are either unhappy or ignorant, neither of which is a very good way to go through life. Those who live double lives in the church and the world cannot find their footing in either one. Those who join the church for personal privilege and power always find themselves in the midst of some disagreement or division. Those who are on the rolls but never attend are blindly going through life expecting to find Jesus at the end with open arms, only to one day to see those sacred arms crossed and hear Him say, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.” By falsifying professions of faith, people have forfeited their own souls.
I would suggest to those who have betrayed Jesus with the kiss of a false profession of faith to do one of two things. At the least, resign your church membership and go headlong out into this world and live your life without Christ, church, or any religious affiliation at all. Avoid the guilt and shame of hypocrisy. You’ll wind up in Hell, but at least you can have a hell of a time before you get there. At best, and now I am speaking most sincerely and seriously, let the truth set you free. Confess your falsehood and sin. Repent and believe the gospel of grace. Quit being a false professor of faith and start practicing the Christian faith as a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.
The Cost of Not Counting the Cost
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless indeed you fail to meet the test.
— 2 Corinthians 13:5
For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
— 1 Peter 4:17
It is time for the church, particular the American church, to examine the way in which we have cultivated professions of faith, and even whether or not there should be such a category in the first place. Medieval and modern “crusades” have proven to be exercises in futility that have come back to bite us. “Revivalism” has done nothing but usher in an age of cheap grace and easy believe-ism which has coughed up enough false professions of faith to choke every mule in Texas and cripple a large segment of the evangelical church.
But Judgment Day comes not for denominations or churches, but rather each individual soul. Has yours been touched by amazing grace, or something far less? Is your faith a deep, abiding, obedient trust in God? Is Jesus Christ the greatest love of your life, or do you just give Him a kiss on the cheek?
At the precise moment the Judas gave Jesus a kiss, among Christ and His disciples, only Jesus and Judas knew what that kiss meant. And at the end of the day, only Jesus and you know the genuine quality of your profession of faith. Make sure it is real. Otherwise, the cost will be too high.