I think one of the scariest lines in the Bible comes in Luke 22:3, “Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.” This raises several questions, or at least it better, if we actually stop to think about it. Here are a few of mine:
Ok, so now that I have those out of my head, what are we to do with this? There are two responses that I find completely too simplistic to do much good. First, there are those who promote the idea that Judas was always a horrible person and while being one of the Twelve, he wasn’t really as good or as “discipled” as the others. Second, there are those who see Judas as a pawn used by God to fulfill the master plan. Thus, God in this view, becomes the puppet-master, using both Judas and Satan to do His will through means that we usually wouldn’t associate with God. There are problems here, in both explanations.
The story unfolds this way in Luke’s telling of it. Satan enters Judas. Judas goes to the chief priests and teachers of the law. He discusses with them how he might betray Jesus and hand him over to them. They agree. Both parties are keeping there eyes open for the right time to act. Thus, for Luke, it is the work of Satan that is orchestrating the betrayal of Jesus played out in the joint actions of Judas and the leaders.
As we might suspect, Luke is not writing to really answer our questions. For Luke, Judas will come to be known for doing one thing, and that one thing is betraying Jesus into the hands of those who wanted to kill him. Yet, Judas did not come to this action on his own, Satan entered him. This is the first time the reader of Luke’s gospel will read about Satan since the temptation of Jesus. Therefore, while Luke does not provide the motivations or the circumstances that surrounding Satan’s entry into Judas, we most certainly know the result. Jesus will be handed over to the religious authorities and be crucified.
The one thing I guess we can think about is the fact that while Judas has become synonymous with betrayal and sin, Judas’s story is not one that is uncommon or even set apart. Luke’s explanation for the actions of Judas and of the leaders of the temple was not personal, but one that pitted Satan against God once again. This time, Satan was orchestrating what he thought was his victory, but it was actually his defeat. Unfortunately, poor Judas was not in a place to deny Satan access…and I feel that many of us are in that very place. We are, like Judas, susceptible. Often, when we hear teaching about Judas, we tend to place Judas in a hole that we would never dig, and worse than that Judas ends his own life as he thinks and regrets his actions against Jesus. However, what if Judas’s issue was that his actions did not match his intentions.
Judas wanted to be disciple of Jesus, but he acted as a betrayer. Judas wanted to regret and repent of his first actions, but it led him to take even more consequential actions. Why do I say more consequential? Well, because the cross was Judas’s victory over sin too…but Judas would not accept victory, he went to his grave grieving his failure. (AH HA Moment!) And that can be the same pit we can fall into: Where are we susceptible? How to our intentions play out in out actions? Judas is not a disease, Judas provides us with a sobering lesson about discipleship and how to handle failure. Because if you have followed Jesus, you will fail! And Jesus died because we fail…but accepting the victory of Jesus makes all the difference in the world, and in our lives. We can look back and see times where “Satan entered” but we who have come to know Christ also understand that the “spirit of God has entered” and we must live empowered, not damned, lives.
I want to share thoughts, insights, and scriptures that lead us in the direction of Christ.