Summary: The analysis of the plot to kill Jesus in Luke 22:1-6 alerts us to several dangers.
It was the final week of Jesus’ life, just days before his death. All of the public attempts of the various groups of religious leaders to discredit Jesus had failed completely, and they no longer dared ask him any question (Luke 20:40). Jesus warned his disciples, in the hearing of all the people, to beware of the religious leaders because of their pride, greed, and hypocrisy (Luke 20:45-46). Jesus also affirmed the sacrificial generosity of a poor widow (Luke 21:1-4). Then Jesus and his disciples left the temple, crossed the Kidron valley, and went up the Mount of Olives where he taught the lesson we call “The Olivet Discourse” (Luke 21:5-38).
In Luke 22 the focus shifts from Jesus’ interaction with the religious leaders and teaching of his disciples to the events that lead up to Jesus’ death on the cross (Luke 22-23), followed by the account of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (Luke 24). It all began with the plot to kill Jesus.
Let’s read about the plot to kill Jesus in Luke 22:1-6:
1 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. 2 And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people.
3 Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. 4 He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. 5 And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. 6 So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd. (Luke 22:1-6)
In his commentary on the Gospel of Luke Dr. Philip Ryken says that 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 Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In fact, the Gospel of Judas is not really a gospel at all because it does not tell the good news about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is what a gospel is. The story simply ends at the point when Judas handed Jesus over to the Jews. There is no cross or empty tomb in the manuscript, and therefore 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 Jesus asked him to do it. Judas and Jesus had many private conversations during the last week of their lives, in which Jesus 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.”