Scripture: Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them:
“The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.”
Mark 14:44, NIV
time to count a few of my blessings as I sat in the midst of that great urban
tradition, the morning crush of traffic, as workers streamed into the heart
of the city. I am thankful that I don’t have to do this often. But I allowed
extra time this particular morning, and I was able to contemplate the vanity
license plates on many of the autos surrounding me. I followed DBRA RAE
for a while. FLOSS seemed to remind me of a dental technician, while
DENTS possibly worked in a similar office. PARODOX held one
person, so half of a pair of doctors? The AB MD auto surely was also
a doctor. The car with the tag BLUE HEN puzzled me. Neither the car
or the driver was blue, nor a hen.
Individualized license plates, all. Even the regular
issue plates can be traced to a particular owner, and the driver had best
be carrying a permit to drive, bearing a photo identification. Our society
depends upon that ability to show who we are, or who we claim to be. We often
need that identification to make a purchase with anything other than pure
We recognize people from pictures in newspapers, on
television, and plastered on billboards across the land. Images sell products,
especially happy, smiling people. While we hope that our personal
image never appears upon a “Wanted!” poster, we are
grateful for the process that is often responsible for the apprehension
of someone who has commited a crime. But take a moment from our “total surveillance”
society to think about one where none of these techniques is available.
No photos, no ID cards. No real knowledge of what someone known to you only
by name actually looks like. How would you pick a particular person out from
a large crowd? You would probably have to rely on someone who knew
that person intimately.
Jesus lived in such a society. The people who
most wanted to find Jesus this particular night were not personally acquainted
with him. The city of Jerusalem was also jammed with crowds of pilgrims,
spending the week celebrating the Passover. They were packed into every inn
and guest room, and overflowed into the streets and public places, even into
the orchards outside the city walls.
True, Jesus appeared openly in the temple area, but
the authorities freely admitted that they feared a riot would ensue if they
tried to arrest him in the midst of the throng. The Roman soldiers were quite
efficient at quelling riots, and delt severely with those who permitted such
breaches of the peace to occur. The authorities knew quite well who they wanted
arrested; they just didn’t know where Jesus stayed when apart from the crowds,
nor how to make sure they had the right man. Soldiers and temple guards,
unfamiliar with Jesus, were sent out to locate and identify him amongst the
multitudes, under the cover of darkness. Judas, therefore, was their means
“The one I kiss is the man; arrest
him and lead him away under guard."
Interesting thought - Today, we need to point to Jesus
and say, "This is the Man!”
Instead, we are more apt, like Peter, to say, “I know him not!"
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