Matthew 26:48

ESV Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.”
NIV Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: 'The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.'
NASB Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign previously, saying, 'Whomever I kiss, He is the one; arrest Him.'
CSB His betrayer had given them a sign: "The one I kiss, he's the one; arrest him."
NLT The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: 'You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.'
KJV Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.

What does Matthew 26:48 mean?

Judas' job was to lead the chief priests to Jesus and quickly identify Him for the soldiers and temple police to arrest (Matthew 26:14–16). It is unclear how many of the priests and elders were present in the garden at this late hour. Judas had arrived, though, with a crowd carrying swords and clubs and torches. They may have thought they had come to capture an armed rebel bent on revolution (John 11:48; Luke 23:2).

Matthew again calls Judas simply "the betrayer." Judas had worked out a sign with the security forces ahead of time. He would use a friendly, seemingly harmless kiss to identify Him the target. That was the Person they were to seize and arrest.

Given Jesus' conflict with authorities and His public preaching, modern audiences might wonder why Judas needed to identify Jesus, rather than simply tell His enemies where to find Him. For one thing, it was late at night and dark. For another, those who came to take Jesus away may have never seen Him before, even if they had heard much about Him. Without the existence of pictures or television, famous people were not always recognizable by sight. Clothes and personal appearance, in that era, were relatively uniform. The chief priests did not want to take any chances about arresting the wrong man—or having one of the disciples pretend to be Him—and allowing Jesus to escape.
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