The disciples believed Jesus was a different Messiah than he actually came to be. They had heard his words of love and sacrifice but actually were still expecting him to lead a rebellion and overthrow the Roman Gentile oppressors bringing victory to God’s people. They still believed this even after the resurrection in some form. They had swords they carried and were ready to use them.
“While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 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 v 47-49)
Why didn’t Judas just point out who Jesus was? Why didn’t he just go and stand with him and indicate this is who needs to be arrested? Why the kiss?
Judas’ betrayal wasn’t trying to end the ministry of Jesus (though that is what Satan who had entered Judas wanted to do). It was to provoke it to move faster and become the revolutionary ministry that everyone wanted.
A kiss can be manipulative. It can create a spell that has undying allegiance. He will do what I want.
The kiss was Judas showing the same cultural respect and love for his leader. “I am with you, I am one of your team, look at who is here, they have come to arrest you so now let’s fight, let’s do this, let’s overcome the oppressors, let the revolution begin!” Jesus received the kiss but rejected the manipulation. Later, realising that Jesus was actually going to go through with what he said and willingly die, he couldn’t cope with what he had done, he realised he had badly misunderstood his friend. Manipulation never ends well even the failed attempts of it.