The day of the traitor.
Sadly, this day long-anticipated by Jesus, was part of Holy Week and the turning of the tide against Jesus.
Here’s an outline of what happened on Wednesday1:
- Jesus continues daily teaching in the Temple (Luke 21:37-38)
- The Sanhedrin plot to kill Jesus (Matt. 26:3-5; Mark 14:1-2; Luke 22:1-2)
- Judas, with Satan indwelling him, betrays Jesus (Matt. Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-6)
Today we’ll focus on Luke 22:1-6 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover.  And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people.  Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve.  He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them.  And they were glad, and agreed to give him money.  So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd. (ESV)
What can we learn from this text?
This is undoubtedly one of the most troubling passages in all of scripture. Who, after following the Lord Jesus Christ for 3 years as a disciple, could commit this horrifying betrayal? As you read the gospel accounts and follow Judas through those 3 years, the answer is not as simple as the asking.
Judas left everything to follow Jesus (Luke 9:1-2). He received authority from Jesus to cast out demons and heal. He preached the gospel. He witnessed miracles of healing, multiplying bread and fish for thousands, and even the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
It is not enough to surround someone with excellent Bible teaching, show them all the wonders of Christ, His power and grace, and think that will be a secure road for saving his or her soul. Ultimately the depth of sin in Judas’s heart, evidenced by his unconfessed thieving from the common money bag (John 12:6), was fertile ground for Satan to enter into. Luke 22:3 describes the first time this happened, when Judas ultimately decided that Jesus was not worth following anymore, and John 13:27 describes another occasion when the devil possessed Judas.
Friends, we must consider the sober warning from the life of Judas: as we continue to follow Jesus, do we find Him of inestimable worth or do we continue to live at odds with Him? Do we want, as an evangelist I heard preach many years ago, a kingdom but not the King?
For more insight into Judas’s story, I recommend this helpful article from the Gospel Coalition.
- We give Satan far too much authority. As Pastor Colin Smith, author of the article I referred to above, writes: “It is the peculiar majesty of Jesus that he can conquer man without man’s first approaching him. But Satan’s frailty is proved by this, that he cannot approach a soul unless that soul has first turned to him.”
- Jesus is absolutely worth following, and the further we go with Him, the more we experience His glory and grace. Don’t turn away when He graciously exposes your sin, for at those times He calls on you to know His grace anew. Live in the light with Him.
Lord Jesus, You are the Divine Searcher of all hearts. How grieved You were at the betrayal of Judas. How gracious you were to warn him again and again. Please search our hearts still today as we follow You through Your word. Establish us in relationship with You in deeper ways. Expose our sin so that we may forsake it and cling more closely to you. Thank you that you need no permission or please to work in our hearts this way. You are the Sovereign Lord of our hearts. We know this is true, even as we tremble at the life of Judas. Yet we pray earnestly still that you hold us fast. Amen.
Listen to the song He Will Hold Me Fast
1. Crossway is currently offering free access to their ESV Study Bible. To access the Harmony of the Holy Week Chart, simply sign up for that resource, and even more, from Crossway.