Summary: Judas Iscariot, whom Jesus called “the son of perdition,” lived up to his name by agreeing to hand over Jesus to the religious leaders for a rather insignificant amount of money. How did he get the courage for this evil act? The Bible has the answer.
HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS
JUDAS CONTRACTS THE BETRAYAL
Judas Iscariot, whom Jesus called “the son of perdition,” lived up to his name by agreeing to hand over Jesus to the religious leaders for a rather insignificant amount of money. How did he get the courage for this evil act? The Bible has the answer.
Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. (Luke 22:3)
Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples. In John 13:27, this action is said to have taken place after Jesus had handed him the piece of bread during the Passover meal. When the Lord made it clear that he was not going to claim the throne of Israel but that he expected to die, Judas was disappointed and resolved to save himself, if possible. His attitude gave Satan an opening to possess and control him.
The fact that Satan entered Judas does not necessarily mean he’s now a demoniac, unable to control his actions. Rather, Judas has opened the door to Satan by failing to resist his temptation. No doubt his thievery (John 12:6) opened the door for this. Regarding balancing the human role and the divine role behind the betrayal, Nolland notes, “Keeping in mind the wider Lukan narrative, one must not forget that this delivering up of Jesus, though a betrayal, at the same time fulfills the divine intention (Acts 2:23) and is fully anticipated by Jesus Himself (Luke 9:44; 22:21–22).”
When Satan entered Judas it was in stages. The awful stages of it were these:
1. Covetousness was his master–passion; the Lord let it reveal itself and gather strength by entrusting him with “the bag” (3John 12:6), as treasurer for himself and the twelve.
2. In carrying out that most sacred trust he became “a thief,” taking its contents from time to time for his own use. Satan seeing this door into his heart standing wide open, determines to enter by it, but cautiously (2 Corinthians 2:11); first merrily “putting it into his heart betray him” (John 13:2), suggesting the thought to him that by this means he might enrich himself.
3. This thought was probably converted into a settled plan by what took place in Simon’s house at Bethany.
4. The actual act of betrayal was held back for some time; the determination to carry it into immediate effect was not there until, setting at the Passover supper, “Satan entered into him”.
None of this removes responsibility from Judas, who made his own choices and performed his own acts. We are reminded that Judas was of the number of the twelve. That may cause one to wonder why Christ, who knew all men, would take a traitor into that number, and why he would betray the Lord Jesus since after living with Him for three years he must have known Him well. It was the devil’s work! He thought he could use Judas to ruin Christ’s mission, and break his head, but, in the end, all he did was bruise his heel. Judas knew how bad the chief priests wanted to get Christ into their hands, and that they could not do it safely without the assistance of someone that knew his routine, as he did.
Judas was energized and possessed by Satan when he made his agreement with the religious leaders. Satan is a liar and murderer (John 8:44), and he helped Judas with his deception. But Satan deceived Judas as well, and the former disciple ended up committing suicide. It is dangerous to make deals with the devil.
And he went his way and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. (Luke 22:4)
And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them. (Mark 14:10)
Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. (Matthew 26:14-15)
Immediately after an instance of the greatest kindness ever done to Christ, there follows an instance of the greatest unkindness. There is a mixture of both good and bad among the followers of Christ. He has some faithful friends, and some false and pretend ones. What could be more sordid than this agreement which Judas made with the chief priests, to betray Christ to them for thirty pieces of silver? Here is the offer which he made to the chief priests; he went to them, and said, “What will ye give me?” (v. 15). They did not send for him, nor make the proposal to him; they could not have thought that one of Christ’s own disciples would be willing to betray him. Note, there are those, even among Christ’s followers, that are worse than anyone can imagine them to be.