Located in a galaxy far away, there is a land known as the ancient orient; at least that’s the way it seems.
When compared to our contemporary western society, their manners and customs appear to be from another world. One rule above all others was true for Israel during biblical days – the rule of hospitality. The reminder to “greet one another with a holy kiss,” was the preliminary sign given of such openness and receptivity (First Corinthians 16:20).
The importance of hospitality has never gone away for believers. Though you aren’t commanded to kiss every person you meet, Holy Scripture has placed hospitality as a virtue that we are commissioned to display. As a way of showing love within the Body of Christ and giving glory to God, Peter said, “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling” (First Peter 4:9). In his doctrinal exhortation to the church of Rome, Paul indicated that the propensity toward hospitality is a normal trait of behavior for those who serve Christ. We are to be, “given to hospitality” (Romans 12:13). The Bible goes so far as to teach that our behavior towards those who would consider themselves my enemy, should be clothed with Christian hospitality.
Genuine hospitality never goes out of style. It is always in vogue. We do however see that the manners in which hospitality are displayed are adaptable to culture. Kissing every person you come into contact with is not a part of our modern culture. Aren’t you glad about that? With the exception of the deceased Family Feud game show host Richard Dawson, most of us don’t possess a tendency to habitually kiss others. For the most part, lip to flesh contact is limited to spouses and family members. The practice is different with each family.
With all of this thought about kissing, I’m reminded of the person of Jesus Christ. He completely fulfilled Psalm 85:10, “Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed.” Through His obedience to the Cross and subsequent Resurrection, the law’s demands for true righteousness were mercifully satisfied. He is the propitiation for our sins. My life has been kissed by the Son of God. Because of His mercy, I am at peace with God and His righteousness has been placed on my account (Scripture references abound, but I’m not writing a sermon). Thank God for the kiss that brought life through His only begotten Son!
If there ever was a human that others should have wanted to greet with a holy kiss, it would be the man Jesus Christ. Oddly, I only see two New Testament references that point to a time where human lips actually touched the flesh of Jesus. Certainly, there must have been many loved ones and friends alike that greeted our Savior with a kiss of pure love. However, the Holy Spirit only tells us about two particular instances. He drops these handfuls on purpose for those who hunger for righteousness.
Luke, the doctor of details, recorded them for us in chapters 7 and 22. The first is the account of a sinful woman forgiven. Her life had obviously been touched by Christ prior to this occasion in Simon’s house. She was a sinner, but as she lavished her love upon the Master, she kissed His feet. Oh, how she loved Him! Jesus knew her heart and received her love. The woeful contrast painted is that Simon the host did not practice hospitality with even the slightest kiss upon the cheek. This was a kiss of death, for her sins were forgiven and the old person that she was, had died. She would never be the same.
Our tale of two kisses is not yet complete. On the same night that He was betrayed, Jesus received another kiss. This time, though, it was not a genuine act of love, gratitude, and devotion. Instead, it was quite disingenuous. Judas betrayed his Savior with a kiss. You and I know this as the “kiss of death.” Such use of the phrase indicates impending doom for the recipient. Jesus endured such betrayal at the hands of one He chose, gifted, and loved – just as much as the other eleven.
This kiss was not the final bow of our Savior. He went to the Cross and fully experienced death and conquered it. We should thank God that Jesus endured the kiss of death so we could know the victory of life.
Have you experienced the kiss of death? Has the old you died as a result of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection? Isn’t it time for you to come to Jesus Christ wholeheartedly and leave your old life behind? There’s a new life waiting for you that’ll make you love everybody.