Did the Chief Priest even know what Jesus looked like?


Why would the Chief Priest need a signal to mark who Jesus was?
Did they not know what he looked like?
Was it too late in the day to tell?
Did Jesus and the disciples all wear the same clothes?
This detail in scripture just seems strange.

44*Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I shall kiss is the man; seize him and lead him away safely.”

45*And when he came, he went up to him at once, and said, “Master!” And he kissed him.

46*And they laid hands on him and seized him.

The Holy Bible. (2006). (Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition., Mk 14:44–46). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.


Perhaps picking out a man he may have only seen briefly, out of a group of young men (probably bearded) wearing similar plain garb, the high priest needed some confirmation.


Caiaphas, the high priest, was not present at Jesus’ arrest. Judas’ kiss was to identify him for the guards who arrested him.


Also he kissed him to attempt to fool Christ and the apostles so they would not know he was betraying him. Kind of a snide and wimpy way to collect silver: I’ll kiss the guy and then get out of the way so I don’t get hurt.


IDK maybe the priests and scribes didn’t have 8-Megapixel cameras on their iPhones and Jesus hadn’t posted a picture of himself on Instagram just yet.

I think they only had flip phones back then.




There was a tradition in some writings (Origen, Agreda) that Jesus was perceived differently by different people. In other words, a crowd of people would be looking at Jesus at the same time-- and each would perceive him according to his own spiritual ability. A parallel would be sort of like how the crowd in Acts heard Peter preaching-- but each individual heard him in his own language.


Yes. This is actually a belief held by a few early Christians: Jesus, even before His resurrection, could either appear differently to different people or could shapeshift at will. They based this idea on the story of the transfiguration and this passage - where Judas had to point Jesus out to the arrest party.

Now those who held this idea were usually those who emphasized Jesus’ otherworldliness and divinity more than His humanity: the Alexandrians like Origen, plus gnostic/docetic texts. The line of reasoning is, if Jesus was divine, surely changing appearances should be a piece of cake. These same people also tend to be the ones who describe Jesus in non-human terms: incapable of feeling any hunger or thirst or fatigue or pain yet still eating and drinking for the sake of appearances (Clement of Alexandria also expressed this view: “He ate, not for the sake of the body, which was kept together by a holy energy, but in order that it might not enter into the minds of those who were with Him to entertain a different opinion of Him; in like manner as certainly some afterwards supposed that He appeared in a phantasmal shape”); not leaving footprints in the ground (because He actually levitates ;)); not ever closing His eyes. At the extreme would be of course the classic docetic idea that Jesus could not have really died on the cross; it was just an illusion or someone else that was crucified.


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