Sermon #81
Text: Matthew 26:47-56
Reading: Office: Mark Henson Auditorium: Bob Poncer
Subject: Judas' Betrayal of Christ
Date: Tuesday Evening -April 23, 1996

Tape # S-46




Nothing in human history more vividly portrays the depravity, blackness, vileness, and deceit of the human heart than the betrayal of our Lord Jesus Christ into the hands of his enemies by Judas Iscariot. Nothing more woefully displays the evil of the hypocrite's heart than this vile deed of Judas. Nothing more fearfully exemplifies the hardness of heart that is produced by a religious profession without the grace of God and the knowledge of Christ. If we are wise, we will read the passage before us with fear and trembling, lest we should at last found with Judas.


Matthew 26:47-56 "And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. (48) Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. (49) And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. (50) And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. (51) And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. (52) Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. (53) Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? (54) But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? (55) In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. (56) But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled."


What a sad picture the Holy Spirit has painted with those words! Here we see the beginning of our Lord's sorrows. The cup of his woe is beginning to be filled. One of his disciples betrays him. All of his disciples forsake him. He is arrested like a common thief by his enemies. Behold these things, the beginning of his sorrows, and know that there never was or shall be any sorrow like his sorrow. May we never forget that the cause of all his sorrows was our sin. The Son of God was "delivered for our offences" (Rom. 4:25).




In the verses before us we are given clear instructions concerning both our Redeemer and ourselves.




May God the Holy Spirit now take the things of Christ and show them to us. I want us to learn five important lessons from the verses of our text.


1. The most abominable and dangerous men in the world are those who betray Christ with the kiss of friendship.

2. The Lord Jesus Christ is such a friend of sinners that he is readily accessible to them.

3. The cause of Christ and his kingdom cannot be established, maintained, defended, or even helped by carnal means.

4: All that our Lord Jesus Christ endured as our Substitute he endured freely and voluntarily.

5. None of us really knows what evils we are capable of committing.


I. The most abominable and dangerous men in the world are those who betray Christ with the kiss of friendship.


Judas betrayed the Lord of glory with a kiss! Though treachery was in his heart, familiarity, kindness, peace, and love was what he wished to convey. In eastern countries a kiss is a common form of greeting. It suggests respect, friendship, affection, and a wish that the one kissed may enjoy every blessing. But the kiss of Judas was the kiss of a betrayer.


"This sign of Judas was typical of the way in which Jesus is generally betrayed. When men intend to undermine the Scriptures, how do they begin their books? Why, always with a declaration that they wish to promote the truth of Christ!" C.H. Spurgeon


Illustration: The Recent Debate about Christ's Resurrection


Our Savior's warning needs to be rung out often and heard distinctly. He said, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (Matt. 7:15). These wolves would not be so dangerous if they did not come in sheep's clothing


2 Corinthians 11:13-15 "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. (14) And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. (15) Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."


II. The Lord Jesus Christ is such a friend of sinners that he is readily accessible to them.


I recognize that we are never told that any of the other apostles kissed the Savior; but that does not mean that they did not. In fact, it would be a very strange thing if they had failed to do so. As I said, this was then as now a common form of greeting in eastern countries (Ex. 18:7; I Sam. 20:41). Our Lord rebuked Simon the Pharisee because he did not greet him in this manner (Luke 7:45).


When Judas made his deal of treachery he told them to arrest the one that he kissed. His object was to betray the Master in a way that would appear the least suspicious. Therefore, he said, "Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he." Apparently, this was the common way in which our Lord was greeted by his disciples after a time of absence. It was a custom maintained by the disciples long afterward. Paul frequently admonished believers to greet one another with a "holy kiss."


There is a word of instruction, comfort, and encouragement in this. Our Lord Jesus Christ is gracious. He condescends to be accessible to and approached by sinners such as we are in the most intimate manner. What he was to sinners in his humiliation, he is in his exaltation. This is the point I am making - Sinners may freely come to the Son of God without fear of being rejected or cast off by him!

        John 6:37

        Hebrews 4:16


III. The cause of Christ and his kingdom cannot be established, maintained, defended, or even helped by carnal means.


In verses 51 - 53 we see Peter acting very rashly. He drew out his sword and began to take on a band of Roman soldiers single handedly. While we admire his courage, we must not fail to see his folly in this. Our Lord rebuked him for it. He did not commend him. John Trapp wisely observed: "A wonderful work of God it was surely, that hereupon he was not hewn in a hundred pieces by the barbarous soldiers."


Two things need to be understood here.


A. Our Lord does not condemn the lawful use of the sword, of deadly arms and force.


There are many that make this verse an argument against believers going to war in defense of the nation, or against a man arming himself to defend his family and property against criminal intruders, or against the exercise of capital punishment by the state. While I am not interested in debating any of those issues, I will state that the Word of God does, without question, allow the use of the sword, of deadly force, in such circumstances. But that is not the subject here, either pro or con.


B. Our Lord is here teaching us that his cause, his kingdom, his church, his gospel can never be established, maintained, defended, or even helped by carnal weapons.


        2 Corinthians 10:4


While he specifically speaks of the sword, the sword is but a symbol for all carnal things. The church and kingdom of God cannot be established by carnal means; and we must never attempt it. Christ builds his church...


        By the Power of the Holy Spirit.

        By the Preaching of the Gospel.


IV. All that our Lord Jesus Christ endured as our Substitute he endured freely and voluntarily.


He was not taken captive against his will, or because he could not escape. That would have been a very easy thing for him to do. But he had come here on purpose to fulfill the will of God, to fulfill the types and prophecies of the Old Testament, and to fulfill all righteousness for the salvation of his people. His heart was set upon accomplishing this great work. He was a voluntary Scapegoat, a willing Victim, and a willing Sacrifice for us (vv. 53-56).


Notice those words in verse-64 "Thus it must be!"

Why? Why must it thus be? Because...

        It was ordained by God the Father.

        It was agreed upon in the covenant of grace.

        It was prophesied in the Old Testament Scriptures. Every detail of our Lord's sufferings and death, from this vile betrayal to the piercing of his holy side was foretold in the Old Testament.

        It was typified in the sacrifices and ceremonies of the law.

        There was no other way for God, in his holy justice, to forgive and pardon the sins of his people.


V. None of us really knows what evils we are capable of committing. "Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled" (v.56).


How little we know of the weakness and sin of our own hearts! All these disciples had, just a few hours earlier, protested our Lord's prophecy, and said, "We will not forsake thee" (v. 35). There was no reason for their fear. The Lord Jesus had already demanded of these soldiers that they let his disciples go (John 18:8). They had witnessed his sovereign power over these soldiers. Yet, when left to their own strength, every one of the disciples forsook their Master. In the time of testing, they forgot everything. They forgot God's goodness, grace, and power, their past experiences, their fervent resolutions, and their Master's love. They forgot everything.


This is here recorded to teach us again that...


A. There is no evil we are not capable of committing or will not commit, if left to ourselves.

B. Salvation is by grace alone.

C. Our only righteousness is Jesus Christ our Redeemer.

D. Our only hope of preservation is that God who saved us by his grace will keep us by his grace.




"Let us learn from this passage lessons of humiliation and self-abasement. Let us resolve, by God's grace, to cultivate a spirit of lowliness and self-distrust. Let us settle in our minds, that there is nothing too bad for the very best of us to do, unless he watches, prays, and is held up by the grace of God; and let it be one of our daily prayers, 'Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe' (Psalm 119:117)." J.C. Ryle


        Acts 4:27-28

        Acts 13:27-29




After these things, after suffering the wrath of men, our Savior yet had to endure the wrath of God to save us. That too he voluntarily endured for us, as our Substitute. II Corinthians 5:21


Let me say one more thing, and I will be done. The day shall soon come when the Lord of glory will respond to the challenge of mockery in verse 68. "Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?"


Revelation 20:11 "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them."