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Killed By A Kiss

Luke 22:39-48

The poet puts these words onto the lips of Jesus:

You who have raised
And bound me high
Fast to the cross
And think I die,

Little you know
I died in a sweet
Garden of beauty
Cool and complete

Fortuned by ills,
The nail and the thirst
Death of a man
Despised and accursed

Little you know
That I died that night
Died from a kiss
By a lantern’s light

That poet is trying to tell us something we tend to forget. He is saying to us: “You think that Jesus died because He was nailed to a cross. You think He died of physical torment and pain, of thirst, of loss of blood, of a brutally battered body, of a fatally damaged heart. And, in a sense, He did. But the things that really killed Him did not assail His body. They beat against His soul. We will never really understand what it must have done to God’s Son to see what He saw, to feel what He felt, to suffer what He suffered as the very people He wanted to save renounced Him and sent Him to the cross.”

The poet is telling us that these are the things that killed Him—things like that kiss by lantern light, where the lips of the betrayer brushed His cheeks and tore His soul to shreds. Oh, I tell you, it must have been an agony for Him.

It began in the Garden of Gethsemane when He so desperately needed the comfort of companionship—and His best friends fell fast asleep. Soon the traitor came, and with one act of love delivered Jesus into the soldiers’ hands. Then His disciples vanished into the darkness leaving Him to the cruelty of those who were determined to do away with Him. Jesus knew it would happen. He knew His friends would run away. He had told them so. But still He died a little when He saw them go. Then it was Peter cursing and swearing and denying that he had ever known the Master. And Jesus, looking at him, died a little more.

It went on through the night and into the following day. The people of Jerusalem—the city that He specially loved—poured out upon Him their brutal contempt, their obscene derision, their callous indifference. They laughed at Him; they rejected Him—and each time He died a little.

So we are reminded that it was sin that killed Him, the sin of people then and the sin of people now—your sin and my sin. We must never, never forget that. For when we reject Him and His teachings in our lives; when we turn a deaf ear to His call; when we look with cold indifference upon the needs of His people in the world; when we say with our lips, “Christ, you know I love you,” but then say with our lives, “Let’s not take this faith too seriously,” when we put money or material things, or job or social position or even friends on the throne of our hearts—we kill Him all over again just as surely as He was killed by a kiss in the lantern light.

That is why we come to the Table tonight—to do just as He did on this night so long ago—to share the sacrament of His body and blood so that we shall never forget what He has done for us and how He suffered for us. To love is never to think of one’s self, but to give one’s self for the one loved. Jesus loved us and gave Himself for us.

Ought we not to do the same for Him?
To love Him? And to give ourselves to Him?

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