One of the brothers Ivan, explains his prose poem, “The Grand Inquisitor,” to his brother Alyosha. In a town in Spain, in the sixteenth century, Christ arrives, apparently reborn on Earth. He begins to heal the sick, but he is interrupted by the arrival of a powerful cardinal who orders his guards to arrest Christ. Late that night, this cardinal, the Grand Inquisitor, visits Christ’s cell and explains why he has taken him prisoner and why he cannot allow Christ to perform his works. Throughout the Grand Inquisitor’s lecture, Christ listens silently.
The Grand Inquisitor reminds Christ of the time when the Devil presented him with three temptations, each of which he rejected. The Grand Inquisitor says that by rejecting these three temptations, he guaranteed that human beings would have free will. The Grand Inquisitor says that Christ should have given people no choice, and instead taken power and given people security instead of freedom.
As the Grand Inquisitor finishes his indictment of Christ, Christ walks up to the old man and kisses him gently on the lips. The Grand Inquisitor suddenly sets Christ free, but tells him never to return again. But Christ’s enigmatic kiss on the Inquisitor’s lips after his indictment completely changes the tenor of the scene. The kiss represents an overriding act of love and forgiveness so innate that it can only be expressed wordlessly. The power of faith and love is rooted in mystery—not simply in the empty and easily digestible idea that God’s will is too complex for people to understand, but in a resonant, active, unanswerable profundity. The kiss cannot overcome a logical argument, but at the same time there is no logical argument that can overcome the kiss. It represents the triumph of love and faith, on their own terms, over rational skepticism. (sparknotes.com/lit/brothersk/section7.rhtml)
What does this have to do with Judas’ kiss of betrayal? It is striking that Judas chooses to kiss Jesus, one of affection often used in greeting a friend. My take is Judas knows all too well what Jesus is about. Jesus values relationships and exhibits compassion and forgiveness, which frustrates Judas. Freedom is needed for true relationship. We are to use our freedom to enter into a real relationship with Jesus. He mocks Jesus openness to relationship in his betrayal. It is a sign of deep hatred. He uses him to gain a few coins and possibly gain power as the one who turned over Jesus to the religious authorities. In the end it was his own kiss of death. He regretted it but did not repent of it. How can Jesus’ compassionate way of life be hated so much? It is possible. We can look at Jesus to get what we want but have disdain for his love for others. Let’s embrace the Jesus as revealed in Scripture, the one who draws us into a relationship – on his terms.