The event being described in Mark 14:44 is as the Lord Jesus was leaving the Garden of Gethsemane.  Judas Iscariot met him with a “great multitude” to deliver Him into the hands of the chief priests, scribes, and elders.  We read in Mark 14:43-44, “And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, WHOMSOEVER I SHALL KISS, THAT SAME IS HE; take him, and lead him away safely.” 

The betrayal of the Lord Jesus by Judas is mentioned in all four Gospels (Matthew 26:47-56, Luke 22:47-53, and John 18:1-12).  Matthew, Mark, and Luke all refer to Judas as “one of the twelve.” (John refers to this truth in John 12:4).  How sad it is to realize that Judas was indeed one of the Lord’s twelve disciples, yet he betrayed Him.  This was not a surprise for the Lord Jesus for He had said earlier in John 6:64, “But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.” Even here, the Lord knew that Judas did not believe on Him as the true Son of the living God.

Luke 22:3-6 tells us, “Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them IN THE ABSENCE OF THE MULTITUDE.”  Notice that Judas went to the chief priests and captains and sought opportunity to betray the Lord into their hands at a convenient location.  Surely at this point, Judas knew the religious leaders were very zealous to find an opportunity to do away with the Lord.  Knowing that…Judas sought to make money by delivering the Lord to them.

Judas used a kiss to signal to the guards that Jesus was the one they were to take captive.  It seems obvious that someone needed to point out the Lord to the guards because they did not know which one was Jesus.  I can think of a few reasons the Lord needed to be identified.

We read in Isaiah 53:2, “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”  What did Jesus look like?  Did He stand out because of His physical features.  No, it seems the Lord looked like an ordinary man.  This shows us that there was nothing special about the Lord’s physical appearance to distinguish Him from the others.

All the guards may not have been familiar with who the Lord Jesus was.  We read in John 18:3, “Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.”  This “band of men” refers to “a Roman military cohort.”  These men were “the detachment of the Roman cohort on duty at the festival for the purpose of maintaining order.”   Only John mentions this group of men, but it indicates that someone needed to point out the Lord to many who may not have known what He looked like.

It was night.  We are told that Judas left the Lord Jesus and the disciples in the upper room.  John 13:30 say, “He then having received the sop went immediately out: and IT WAS NIGHT.”  We just read John 18:3 which mentions that the men came “with lanterns and torches”, indicating that it was dark outside.  It is possible they could not see well enough to tell all the men apart.

I believe the real answer to your good question is found in Matthew 26:55-56, “In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. BUT ALL THIS WAS DONE, THAT THE SCRIPTURES OF THE PROPHETS MIGHT BE FULFILLED…” Perhaps the Lord was referring to Psalm 41:9 which says, “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.”  This betrayal of the Lord fulfilled what the Old Testament had prophetically spoken.  Judas’ kiss to identify the Lord Jesus gave him the opportunity to manifest his own heart of unbelief and hatred of the Lord.  To use a sign of love to accomplish such a hateful deed is reprehensible.  Yet the Lord endured all these things that He might go to Calvary’s cross to give Himself as the one perfect sacrifice to put away our sins.  May our hearts be lifted up to praise and worship our dear savior!  (CC)  (548.2)