A Bitter Kiss

A Bitter Kiss

Scripture selection: Luke 22:47

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?”

I have always thought that it is a particularly poignant part of the story.  One of Jesus’ own handpicked disciples, silently guided by the hand of Satan, reaches out to embrace and kiss the Lord as a sign.  The kiss is a sign to those who have come to arrest Jesus and take him to his trial and execution.  Never has there been a kiss with more bitter significance than this one offered by Judas.

Yet I also see in it a sad portrait of the human experience.

Too often I see how the old adage is true: “Sometimes the ones we hurt the most are the ones we love.”

Much has been written about this man named Judas.  Much speculation has occurred about the deadly act he perpetrated in the garden of Gethsemane. Was he

  • Playing the role of political zealot, trying to force Jesus into action by overthrowing those who would attempt to do him in?
  • A pitiful character, a puppet on Satan’s string, acting not on his own but as a tool of spiritual darkness?
  • A disenchanted disciple who thought Jesus had let them down and deserved what he got?
  • A simple thief, eager to do whatever he had to do to get fifty pieces of silver?

These and other theories have been offered over the years.  Maybe they are all true.  Maybe there is more to the story that we cannot know.

But again, I am struck by how it mirrors that terrible temptation with which we all may struggle at times – to hurt someone deeply, perhaps irrevocably.

So as the Lenten season begins, let us not point a self-righteous figure at poor Judas.  Let us instead pray for God’s forgiveness for the times when we too have offered a cold embrace and a bitter kiss as dark as the night itself.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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