Jesus Betrayed With A Kiss


In John’s Gospel, he selectivity omits Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane, Matthew 26:36-46, Judas’ betrayal kiss, Luke 22:47-48, reference to ‘twelve legions of angels’, Matthew 26:53 etc. John isn’t giving a full account, but as much as is necessary for his purpose, John 20:30-31 / John 21:25. Also, the Gospels have been in circulation for a long time, and so, when John writes his account, the narrative is well-known.

A full narrative of all that happened in Gethsemane would require a careful study of Matthew 26:36-56 / Mark 14:32-51 / Luke 22:39-53 / John 18:1-12. John makes it clear that, despite the arrest, Jesus is completely in control of the situation. What His enemies do is by permission, His death is a voluntary sacrifice, John 10:17-18.

‘When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side, there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.’ John 18:1

The Kidron Valley

The Kidron valley east of Jerusalem, separating the Mount of Olives from the Temple Mount, this was the route taken by David when he fled from the city because of Absalom, 2 Samuel 15:23 and it has a significant place in the history of the nation, in 1 Kings 15:13, it’s where Asa burned the ‘abominable image’, in 2 Kings 23:4ff it’s where Josiah burned the idolatrous vessels out of the temple, in 2 Chronicles 29:16ff it’s where it involved in the cleansing of the temple by Hezekiah.

From the altar of sacrifice in the temple, there was a channel down to the brook Kidron, and through that channel, the blood of the lambs drained away. When Jesus crossed the brook Kidron it would still be red with the blood of the lambs which had been sacrificed.

The ‘valley’, ‘cheimorrhos’, literally means, ‘winter-flowing’, a stream which flowed only in winter or after heavy rain. A ‘garden’, ‘Gethsemane’ means ‘oil press’, Luke 22:39. It was a private garden, Mark 14:32. ‘Place’, ‘chorion’, an enclosed piece of ground, so the owner must have given permission for Jesus and the disciples to use it.

The owner was probably a friend of Jesus as Jesus often went there. Notice Luke 21:37, this probably means that Jesus and His disciples used to shelter there, sleeping in the open air, and probably in this very garden.

The Garden

Located on the slopes of Mount of Olives, precise location unknown, the present ‘Garden of Gethsemane’ is very old, and the original garden must have been close by, but nobody can say with certainty exactly where. It seems as if the disciples and Jesus had stopped for Jesus’ prayer somewhere in Jerusalem.

Now that the prayer was completed, they continue to the edge of the city, out one of the gates on the Western side of the city and towards the Kidron valley which runs to the West of the city along the length of the temple.

They crossed the valley and entered the garden of Gethsemane which was on the Mount of Olives, this Mount was so-called because of the olives grown on it. Some of these olive trees still exist today, and they are believed to be the same as those mentioned in Jesus’ time. It seems that Jesus slept here on the Mount of Olives each night of the last week of His life.

‘Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So, Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.’ John 18:2-3

We see that this was a commonplace for Jesus and the disciples to go for prayer and meditation, as a result, Judas the traitor knew where to find Jesus, and it was common for them to go there after the evening meal. Judas brought an entire detachment of soldiers with him to capture Jesus. Judas brought with him, ‘a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees’.

The word ‘detachment’ of soldiers is ‘speira’, and was the term used for a Roman Cohort, a body of 600 men. Sometimes used to describe a group of 200 soldiers, it’s impossible to say how many on this occasion, but it’s certainly used for a large number, Matthew 26:47 / Mark 14:43 / Luke 27:47.

‘Their officers’, ‘chiliarchos’, the Roman commander of a cohort, and the temple guard were carrying ‘lanterns and torches’, perhaps expecting that Jesus and disciples would hide, Luke 22:52, the chief priests and elders were also present.

The torches were sticks tied together, wrapped in cloth, dipped in pitch or oil, the lantern was an open dish or oil lamp. This seems likely because of their reaction when Jesus uses the term ‘I AM’, John 18:5. The chief priests had no jurisdiction over Roman soldiers and would need Pilate’s permission to use them. He later doesn’t seem keen on the whole event, so it isn’t likely that he would give his permission to use his men to capture Jesus.

Why did they need Judas?

The religious leaders didn’t need Judas to recognise Jesus. They didn’t need Judas to find out where Jesus was. Three times in the Gospel of John they sent guards to arrest Jesus and all three times the guards couldn’t do it. I think they were beginning to fear that Jesus was unarrestable. And they said, ‘we need someone on the inside, some that can catch Him when his guard is down, someone that won’t surprise Him so that we can get Him before He knows what’s going on.’ And Judas said, ‘I’m your man.’

The Kiss

‘Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.’ Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him.’ Matthew 26:48

‘While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’ Luke 22:47-48

Under normal circumstances, the kiss was a brotherly kiss of affection, but it seems like Judas had other plans, his kiss was more like a kiss of betrayal, his kiss signalled to the mob who Jesus was, remember the religious leaders who were in attendance knew exactly who Jesus was, as they had many dealings with Him up to this point.

This shows us the extent Satan had been working on His heart, he even had the audacity to greet Jesus first. When Jesus asked him the question about betraying the Son of man with a kiss, this tells us that Jesus knew Judas’s motives. I’m sure Judas once again would have been taken back by Jesus’ question.

Remember these are the final days of Jesus and He was well aware of everything which was about to happen, Revelation 13:8, and Judas coming to Him was no surprise either, Psalm 41:9 / Matthew 20:18 / Luke 9:44 / Acts 1:16-17.

‘Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’ ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied. ‘I am he,’ Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground. Again, he asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’ ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they said. Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.’ John 18:4-8

Here it’s confirmed that Jesus was well aware of His eventual destination, He knew that His time had now come but still He asked, ‘Who is it you want?’ They specify Jesus, and so allowing the others to go unharmed when they ask for Jesus, He replies ‘I am he’, this is the old statement used as a reference to God. Jesus knew everything that was about to happen, John 2:24 / John 5:6 / John 6:64 / John 13:1 / John 13:3.

Notice that when they were confronted by Jesus, ‘they drew back and fell to the ground’, why?

Notice it was when Jesus said, ‘I am he’ that they ‘drew back and fell to the ground.’ The word ‘he’ is merely supplied in the text, Jesus said ‘Ego Eimi’, ‘I AM’ John 8:58 / Exodus 3:14. The expression ‘Ego Eimi’ also occurs in John 6:20 / John 8:24 / John 8:28 / John 13:13. The arresting officers fall back at this bold answer and needed to be asked again who they sought before they managed to get a hold of themselves again.

Just as a side note I remember studying with the Jehovah’s Witnesses and brought this text to their attention, at first they said, ‘oh you guys are always making a big deal out of the ‘I AM’ statements’ and then they went on to explain that everyone present ‘drew back and fell to the ground’, simply because Jesus openly admitted that He was Jesus and everyone was surprised when He did!


Imagine 200-600 Roman soldiers and all the religious leaders, armed with torches, lanterns, clubs and swords and who knows what else, coming to Jesus and Jesus asks, ‘who are you looking for?’ and they reply, ‘Jesus of Nazareth’. Imagine, Jesus replies, ‘Yep, I’m your man’, and because He said, He is the one they are looking for, 200-600 soldiers and everyone else in their company, not only ‘drew back’ but they also ‘fell to the ground.’

That simply doesn’t make any sense unless there was something about the words Jesus used. The ‘I AM’ statements are a big deal, but they fail to see the significance of them because if they did, they wouldn’t come out with such dribble to explain passages like this.

The significance of ‘I AM’

‘Then Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your Fathers has sent me to you’ and they ask me, ‘what is his name?’ ‘What shall I say to them?’ And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’. And he said, ‘Say to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ Exodus 3:13-14

‘I AM EHYEH’ first singular present of TO BE. HAYAH denotes that God is personal, eternal, self-existent i.e. absolute being.

1. Eternal. Psalm 135:13.

2. Self-existent, Psalm 88:6-7.

Then God, having revealed to Moses some essential aspects of His, God’s, personality informs Moses of the name by which He, God, wants to be known, Psalm 135:13. God also said to Moses, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, ‘YHWH the God of your fathers, has sent me to you, this is my name for ever and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.’ Exodus 3:15

Yahweh in the plural form

‘Then God said, ‘Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness’. Genesis 1:26

The plural in the name YHWH, us and our, can in my opinion be regarded as an indication of the plurality of God’s nature and character, of which the Son and the Holy Spirit are part; three distinct persons who can act individually though never in disharmony and who are united in the godhead as one God. That the Spirit i.e. the force of God was there at creation is clear, Genesis 1:2.

Through Jesus, all came into being is stated in John’s Gospel, John 1:1-3 / John 1:18.

It was through Jesus, i.e. God Himself Incarnate that redemption would be wrought. The name YHWH meaning ‘the Becoming One’ is the ‘redemptive’ name of God and refers to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ who is in the bosom of the ‘Father’ God; Jesus who is part of the Godhead. When Jesus made Himself equal with God, He was merely speaking the truth and had indeed every right to utter the words, ‘I AM’ in such a special way.

The Jews understood perfectly well what was alluded to by the term ‘I AM’ used by Jesus, Leviticus 24:16.

‘This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God.’ John 5:18

Now, remember the Bible doesn’t use names for God in the same way as we use names today. God doesn’t have a name as such, but He uses certain words to describe His character or nature. For example, the word ‘El-Shaddai’ describes His nature as the all-sufficient One, the all-powerful One.

The word ‘Adonia’ describes His character as Lord, Master, the One with all authority. The word ‘Yahweh’ describes His nature as the everlasting, self-existing One.

And so, when God speaks to Moses, He is not giving Moses a name as we understand it. But He’s telling Moses to tell His people that ‘Yahweh’, ‘I AM THAT I AM’, the self-existing One has sent you.

God is basically saying to Moses I don’t need a name, but I will give you one to tell my people. Now remember the Israelites have been in captivity in Egypt for 400 years and so God goes on to say in Exodus 3, just in case my people have forgotten who ‘I AM’, tell them, ‘The LORD, (The One with all authority), the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob has sent me to you.’ Exodus 3:15

Now let’s fast forward a couple of thousand years. We know that the Gospel according to Matthew focuses a lot on prophecy where Matthew points out time and time again that Jesus is the promised Messiah. The Gospel according to Mark focuses a lot on Jesus’ miracles and Mark uses the word ‘immediately’ regularly. The Gospel according to Luke focuses a lot on Jesus’ humanity and shows Jesus as being the Son of man. And finally, the Gospel according to John focuses a lot on Jesus being the Son of God which shows the Deity of Christ.

But have you ever wondered why all the ‘I AM’ claims of Jesus are found in John’s Gospel?

‘Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name’. John 20:30-31

Now John never uses the word ‘miracle’ in his Gospel, but he does use the word ‘sign’ regularly. And there are 16 signs recorded in John’s Gospel, 8 are things which Jesus did and 8 were things which Jesus said. John is basically saying that the ‘I AM’ claims of Jesus are ‘signs’, selected from many other signs. And he says these signs are selected with a purpose in mind and that purpose is that you believe that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be.

And so just as `I AM’ is God’s own identification of Himself in Exodus 3:14 to Moses. Remember that strictly speaking, it’s not a name, but a declaration of His Nature. When we come to the ‘I AM’ claims of Jesus, we need to remember that Jesus was not giving Himself a name or a title but was asserting His Deity. In other words, every ‘I AM’ statement reveals some aspect of His nature and purpose, John 18:8.

After declaring to the mob that He is the ‘I AM’, Jesus pleads for His disciples to be released, this was to fulfil a prophecy He previously made which prevented any from being captured with Him, John 6:39.

The Ear

‘Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’ John 18:10-11

Peter’s reaction isn’t surprising, He was always the impulsive one, who often said things without thinking first, John 13:37 / Matthew 26:33. Here he draws his sword and cuts off the ear of Malchus who was the high priest’s servant.

The fact that Peter is carrying a sword, possibly for protection, tells me that maybe He still didn’t understand the nature of God’s kingdom, he was still thinking in terms of a physical kingdom.

‘Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.’ Matthew 26:52

We know that Jesus never wanted or never intended physical force to establish His kingdom, John 18:36 / Revelation 13:10. He reminds Peter if he’s going to fight with a sword, then he will certainly die by the sword, Romans 13:4.

‘But Jesus answered, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched the man’s ear and healed him’. Luke 22:51

Before Jesus restores Malchus’ ear, Jesus rebukes Peter, this isn’t the first time he has rebuked him, Mark 8:33, and it certainly won’t be the last time he’s rebuked, Galatians 2:11-21.

We must wonder what those who were present were thinking when Jesus restored Malchus’ ear back to normal. Surely after Jesus claimed to be the ‘I AM’, and then performed this ‘sign’, John 20:30-31, those present would have noticed what He just did!

I often wonder if Malchus himself ever went on to believe that Jesus was indeed, the Christ, the Son of God? If no one else believed within the mob, who Christ was on that day, I’m sure Malchus would have believed and who knows maybe later He came to become a Christian. At the very least, it was certainly one of those moments, in his life, that he would never forget.

‘Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?’ Matthew 26:53-54

Peter, still thinking in human terms thought Jesus needed help but little did he know how much help Jesus had at His call. If it wasn’t for the love of Christ for mankind, He could have easily brought all this to an end, but He wasn’t about to play into the devil’s hands, He wasn’t about to blow His whole mission this close to the end, John 10:17-18.

Twelve Legions Of Angels

Twelve legions of angels are estimated to be around 36,000 angels, but notice Jesus says He has ‘more than’ that number at His disposal. Remember one angel wiped out 185,000 of God’s enemies in one moment, 2 Kings 19:35, how much more would these many angels, affect those who were present?

Jesus could have called numerous angels to rescue Him, but He knew by doing that, wouldn’t fulfil Scripture, Isaiah 50:6 / Isaiah 53:2-11. Jesus is saying that He must die but He is also saying all these things must happen to fulfil prophecy, Matthew 18:7 / John 10:35 / 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.

‘Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, ‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me.’ Luke 22:52-53

Because Luke mentions that the mob had swords and clubs, tells us that both Roman soldiers and the temple police were present to arrest Jesus. Luke is the only account which tells us the chief priests were present too. You have to wonder, how many people does it take to arrest one man?

‘But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.’ Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.’ Matthew 26:56

Christ knew the Scriptures, He knew moment by moment they were to be fulfilled. Why the disciples deserted Jesus and fled is uncertain, probably because they were afraid, John 20:19, and didn’t want to be arrested along with Jesus.

We know that Peter and John stayed kind of close to Jesus during His trial, John 18:15, but we don’t know why the others fled. One thing to notice is that Matthew includes himself as one of those deserting and fleeing from the scene.

‘But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.’ Luke 22:53

The Time Has Come

Jesus tells them they’ve had ample opportunity over the past three and half years to arrest Him, but they didn’t. Now was the time because it was God’s timetable they were working under, not theirs. It was now time to carry out the death sentence on Jesus.

Satan has been working through these people because He wanted Jesus out of the picture, little did he know that the cross was a part of God’s plan from the beginning, Genesis 3:15 / Romans 8:28. He had no idea what God’s plan was, he had no idea that he was actually putting God’s plan into effect, 1 Peter 1:10-12 / Acts 2:23.

What date was Jesus arrested?

Coffman suggests that we should note that if Jesus was arrested on the night of Passover, as some suggest then none of the chief priests or the temple guards, would have been permitted to carry weapons after sundown of Nisan 14th. And so, this must have happened the night before, on Nisan 13th, technically the 14th, that Jesus was arrested. If it had been Nisan 14th after sundown, it would have been technically Nisan 15th, the night of the Passover meal, Luke 22:2.

‘Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus and they bound him.’ John 18:12

Jesus didn’t try and run away, He surrenders Himself to the authorities and no attempt is made to capture the disciples. The commander was usually in charge of a thousand men, but on this occasion, he doesn’t have a thousand men with him, but John simply tells us about him to help us understand that he was a man of high ranking.

John also tells us that the Jewish officials were involved in the arrest of Jesus, once again Jesus’ earlier words are about to come to pass, Matthew 20:19.

As Jesus made no attempt in any shape or form to run away, He told His disciples not to fight, He healed Malchus’ ear and voluntarily handed Himself over to them. I don’t believe there was any need to bind Him, but such is the nature of Satan and the people he was using to rid the world of Jesus.

There was no escaping for Jesus, but Jesus had no intention of even trying to escape, He only had one thing on His mind, to lovingly fulfil the will of His Father, Luke 22:42.


Jesus was in full control of everything which was happening around Him and He has always been in control of everything going on around Him and will continue to be in control of everything, even to His resurrection and beyond.

As Christians, it’s so important to remember, that as long as we remain under His control, He will protect us, John 10:28-29 from harm. We must also remember that it’s so easy to abandon Him, especially when people criticise us for being Christians and abuse us for the faith we hold onto so dearly, 1 Timothy 6:12.