“He who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, ‘Whomever I shall kiss, He is the one; seize Him.’ And immediately he came to Jesus and said, ‘Hail, Rabbi!’ and kissed Him. And Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you have come for’” (Matthew 26:48-50).
Judas Iscariot, in his attitudes and actions, is a classic example of the false believer.
As one of the Twelve, Judas was extremely disappointed at the kind of Messiah Jesus turned out to be. Instead of teaching the disciples how to conquer and control, Jesus taught them how to submit and serve. Any ambitions Judas might have had for gaining wealth, power, or prestige by being a close follower of Jesus were frustrated.
Judas’ compulsive unbelief, combined with his relentless greed and ambition, found a perverse, temporal fulfillment when Satan entered him, and he struck a deal with the Jewish leaders to betray Jesus for money (Luke 22:36). As one possessed by the Devil, Judas’s evil actions were no longer his own, though he was still responsible for them.
Judas could have chosen any of several ways to identify Jesus to the mob, but under Satan’s direction he selected a kiss. This kiss was normally given as a sign of affection between close friends or between pupil and teacher. In the context of Judas’ scheme, however, the kiss could hardly have been more despicable because he twisted its meaning so cynically. It is hard to imagine what grief Jesus must have felt when the one who had been treasurer for the Twelve brashly came forward, said “Hail, Rabbi!” and kissed his Master.
Judas’ situation was unique, but his basic attitude is typical of all false believers. The church has always had those who hypocritically profess allegiance to Christ but at heart are really His enemies. Whether it is to advance their business or profession, gain social acceptance, or salve a guilty conscience, hypocrites identify with the church for various reasons. But like Judas, their basic motivation is sinful self-interest.
May God give us the courage to examine our hearts and repent of such traits, and the discernment to deal biblically with false believers in the church.
Suggestions for Prayer
Ask God to graciously protect the integrity and purity of your local church.
For Further Study
• Read the Epistle of Jude, and list the key traits of false teachers.
• What should you know and do regarding such people (vv. 17-23)?
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.