The Days and Nights of His Passion, vol. 1
THEN SATAN ENTERED JUDAS
Intro: Sometime in the late 1970s, an ancient document was stolen from an Egyptian tomb. It was sold to an antiquities dealer and then passed from one dealer to another until scholars finally identified it as a copy of the long-lost Gospel of Judas. We first read about the Gospel of Judas in the second-century writings of Irenaeus, who said it was rejected by the church because it was not in agreement with the biblical gospels of Matt, Mark, Luke, & John. In fact, the Gospel of Judas is not really a gospel at all because it does not tell the good news. There is no report of the crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ – the essence of the good news. The story simply ends at the point when Judas handed Jesus over to the religious leaders. There is no cross or empty tomb in the manuscript of the Gospel of Judas. Therefore, it contains no forgiveness of sins or hope of eternal life. Instead, this heretical document is a desperate attempt to make Judas the hero who delivered Jesus from having to live in a physical body by handing him over to be killed. According to the Gospel of Judas, these two men were the best of friends, and Judas betrayed Jesus only because Christ asked him to do it. Judas and Jesus had many private conversations during the last week of their lives, in which Christ told Judas many secrets that He never shared with any of the other disciples. This is because Judas was the most important disciple – the only one who really understood Jesus. “Step away from the others,” Jesus said to him, “and I shall tell you the mysteries of the kingdom. It is possible for you to reach it.”
All this is utter nonsense, of course. It blatantly contradicts everything the Bible says about both Judas and the Lord Jesus. The people promoting this false gospel are trying to rehabilitate Judas by saying that he was never really the villain that Christians say he was. He was just misunderstood. But these scholars are only betraying Jesus all over again by calling something a gospel that fails to give sinners any good news. If we want to know the real good news we have to go back to what the Scriptures teach. When we do, we discover that the biblical gospels do not treat Judas as a hero at all. Instead, they give a sober, straightforward account of his conspiracy to murder the Son of God.
Today’s text takes place in the middle of the last week of Jesus’ life – the most important week in the history of the world.
Luke 22:1 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover.
Luke 22:2 And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people.
The general public was standing in the way of the religious leaders as they plotted to get rid of Christ.
In their hatred in Luke’s Gospel they: (a) challenge His authority (20:2) (b) sought to seize Him (20:19) (c) sent spies to trap Him (20:20). To sum it up on in word, they were seeking to “destroy” Him (19:47).
Their malice against Jesus was restrained only by their cowardice in the face of public opinion. Jerusalem was packed with so many pilgrims for Passover that they could hardly dare to risk an open arrest.
What if a riot exploded out of a revolt of the people? Jerusalem was as crowded as it would ever be, and the Roman guard was keeping a sharp eye on everything. Who knows what their response would be to an uprising or any kind of disturbance?
Luke 22:3 Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve.
What is most scandalous about this verse? Judas was one of the Twelve. He was in the inner circle of the Son of God, yet he was inwardly estranged from Jesus even though he had been with Him for such a long time.
“Then Satan entered Judas.” Judas was under the evil influence of the archenemy of God.
One writer described Judas as “surrendered to the power of Satan.” He joined leagues with the devil.
We must not think that Satan overpowered Judas and subdued him. Judas gave Satan all the permission he needed – he had already opened the door for the devil to come in.
The Scriptures promise us victory over Satan if we do two things: submit to God and resist Satan.
James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
We must never think that we are powerless against the schemes of Satan, or that he could do to us what he did to Judas against our wills.
It is only the devil himself who wants us to think that we can do nothing to stop him.
John 13:2 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him
John 13:27 Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”
Each reference to our Lord’s betrayer shows Judas in a position of close proximity to and confidence with Jesus.
(1) One of the Twelve – trusted and elect (22:3)
(2) Hand of Judas next to the hand of Jesus at Passover table – most important ritual in Judaism (22:21)
(3) Betrays Jesus to the religious authorities with the sign of a kiss (22:47-48)
Luke is emphasizing the very nearness of Judas to Jesus, and thus the greater danger of his betrayal.
Satan seeks to establish a claim on believers four times in Luke’s writings:
1. “a daughter of Abraham” (13:16)
2. Peter (22:31)
3. Ananias & Sapphira (Acts 5:3)
4. Judas (22:3)
Therefore, Satan targets some individuals for diabolical purposes, especially those close to Jesus or committed to the Christian mission.
Are these dark initiatives/schemes irresistible if the devil approaches us? No!
The only victim above is the woman who was physically tormented by an evil spirit. No sin is mentioned in that text. None of the others in the list are absolved of guilt. None could say, “The devil made me do it.”
Judas is not “possessed” by Satan in the sense that he cannot do otherwise. Nor does Satan cause Judas, Peter, or Ananias & Sapphira to sin. Each individual remains responsible for his or her moral failure.
There is no hint that Judas is unable to control his own actions. Judas failed to submit to God. He opened the door to Satan. He did not resist him, and thus Satan did not flee from him.
We have no doubt about Judas’ personal responsibility. It is explicit by the fact that he himself initiated the betrayal plan.
Luke 22:4 So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them.
Satan entered Judas (v.3), and Judas left Jesus (v.4).
A more disastrous exchange cannot be imagined. A member of Jesus’ inner circle chooses outer darkness.
Arresting Jesus by stealth was proving to be very difficult. He was nearly always in the presence of the general public until the end of each day withdrawing with His closest companions.
How would they ever get to Him without eyes on them?
They had a real problem with seemingly no solution. Until it fell into their laps.
One of His own disciples offers to bring their hated enemy into their clutches. Now they had a foothold in Christ’s inner circle, and it materialized out of nowhere.
Luke 22:5 And they were glad, and agreed to give him money.
Just thinking about getting their hands on the Lord Jesus made the religious leaders crow with evil delight – “and they were glad.”
Simple words that constitute one of the strongest condemnations in all of Scripture. Here were men who were happy to commit the greatest crime in the history of the world.
Luke 22:6 So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude.
This solved the main problem the religious leaders faced. Judas could give them the inside information they needed to capture Jesus when no one else was around. Then they could do whatever they wanted to Him.
Throughout the centuries the Church has struggled to explain Judas Iscariot.
“Satan entered Judas,” but Judas had to let him in, since we read in 22:22 “…truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!”
Judas is free to choose evil, but he cannot determine the consequences of the evil he chooses.
Just as Jesus had predicted one chapter earlier, His betrayer would be a “friend”…
Luke 21:16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death.
Judas had been with Jesus from the beginning. He had the extraordinary privilege of knowing the Messiah as a personal friend.
He had heard everything Jesus had to teach about the kingdom of God. With his own eyes he had seen all the miraculous signs that proved the truth of His gospel. But in the end, Judas wickedly decided to betray Jesus at the earliest opportunity. Why did he do it?
The one constant in the gospels is the greed in the heart of Judas. Matt/Mark/Luke all note that an exchange of money was involved.
John’s gospel notes that Judas was treasurer of the Twelve and secretly he was also a thief (John 12:6; 13:29).
The best way to detect the source of evil in practically any matter is to ask who profits from it financially.
Who profited from the betrayal of Jesus? Judas Iscariot.
More than anything else, it was the love of money that tempted Judas to betray the Lord.
Other priorities in Judas’ life were more important to him than Jesus. For some of those priorities he was even willing to sell out Jesus to the Lord’s enemies.
Matt 26:15 [Judas] said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver.
Matt 26:16 So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.
Later, when Judas felt remorse for what he had done, the first thing he did was give the money back.
Matt 27:3 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
Matt 27:4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!”
Matt 27:5 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.
Cyril of Alexandria – Those who seek to be rich, fall into numerous and unprofitable lusts, which sink men in pitfalls and destruction. The disciple who became a traitor is a clear proof of this, because he perished for the sake of a few miserable coins.
That is all it was: just thirty pieces of silver. To this day we are still mystified that Judas would execute such a colossal crime for such a paltry sum. But it is often shocking what people will do for money.
illus: There is a notable example in the earlier story about the robbery of the manuscript of the Gospel of Judas. The Swiss dealer who sold this false gospel to the National Geographic Society for $1.5 million dollars – a woman named Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos – is a known felon who has trafficked in stolen antiquities. In order to avoid prison time, she betrayed one of her co-conspirators – a former director of the Getty Museum. The Los Angeles Times had this to say about the irony of her situation: “some things don’t change – except for inflation. Thirty pieces of silver then, or $1.5 million now: it’s still all about the money.”
Too many Christians think of greed/love of money as one of the lesser sins. We find it easy to shrug it off.
When we refuse to be content with our financial situation – whether we happen to be rich or poor or somewhere in between – we open the door to fatal temptation.
Once we decide we want something more than we already have, we start thinking about ways to get it.
The more that desire grows, the more tempted we are to get what we want in ways that do not please God or depend upon His providence.
How content are you? Has your mind been playing around with ways to get richer? Are there any ways you are compromising your integrity for financial gain?
The reason the Bible reveals that Judas had a profit motive is not to stigmatize him, but to show how ordinary his temptation was.
Judas did it for the money, which is exactly the reason why many people do a lot of the wrong things they do.
Can we agree there is a more than a little bit of the betrayer in all of us?
Like Judas, we have had the extraordinary spiritual privilege of seeing the person and work of Jesus for ourselves. We have confessed our faith in Christ and have begun to follow Him, like Judas.
We have heard the preaching of His gospel. We know something of His divine power. Yet even a temptation as simple as the love the love of money might lead us into a deep betrayal of the Lord we say that we worship.
When are we in danger of betraying our Lord?
1. When we spend more time thinking about what we do not have than praising God for what we do have
2. When we want Him to do something different for us than what He thinks is best
3. When we think we are so strong spiritually that we could never betray Him at all
Satan is an angel; therefore, he is a spirit without a body.
(a) He entered a serpent in the garden and enticed mankind to sin, which they did.
(b) He decided to face the Lord Jesus one-on-one in the wilderness temptation and was soundly defeated.
(c) He entered a man in Christ’s inner circle who was compromised, and it resulted in the crucifixion of Christ.
What does this suggest about the power of our fallen wills? What difference do our daily choices make? Why does Paul warn us not to give the devil a foothold?
Conclusion: The history of Judas Iscariot, who, although he occupied such a privileged position as one of Jesus’ Twelve apostles, nevertheless betrayed the Master, serves as a permanent warning to every member of Christ’s church – there is always the terrible possibility that even among us who apparently live in the closest connection with the Lord there may be those who are inwardly false and are busily engaged in betraying Him.