The Power of Evil Comes to Judas

Feb 17, 2016   //   by zike   //   General, Pastor's Blog, Zion's Blog  //  No Comments

Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present.

Luke 22:1-6

 

In the scripture assigned for today, Jesus is on his way to the cross, a journey that is appropriate for us to contemplate during Lent.

 

In this passage from the gospel of Luke, the festival of Passover, the feast of Unleavened Bread, is near. During this holy time, we find that that those people who should be most attuned to holiness are focusing their efforts on finding a way to kill Jesus. Why? Because they are afraid of the people, who are threatening to make Jesus powerful. The chief priests and the scribes are afraid of the power of Jesus, and they are afraid of the power of the people. The people are no longer under their own control. Their evil desire to protect themselves results in their efforts to put Jesus to death.

 

So into this situation comes the willing figure of Judas. Luke makes us give second thought to the character of Judas and his betrayal of Jesus. The scripture says that Satan “entered into Judas.” Tradition has it that this was the downfall of Judas, that his behavior and his suicide that followed show that he was condemned. But the situation raises questions. Judas is identified as one of the twelve. He is one of Jesus’ closest friends. What can have driven him to betray Jesus? In Luke, it’s not just the money. In fact, the money seems to be an afterthought, a reward for his betrayal.

 

Could God have a role in Judas’ betrayal of Jesus? In Acts 1:16, Peter says, “Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas.” Could Judas have been just a tool of the situation that called for betraying Jesus, which resulted in Jesus ultimately being put to death and then rising from the dead for our salvation? In fact, if Judas had not betrayed Jesus, would we be saved today?

 

Yet there is the matter of Satan. Whether or not we think Satan was a person, Luke seems to say that a force other than God influenced him in his actions. So if this force controlled Judas, was he really responsible for what he did? And if he wasn’t responsible, can we then say that his actions were a result of his sin?

 

I think we can’t help looking at our own sin. It is hard for us to explain where it comes from. It is hard for us to know whether Satan is outside us or within us. It is hard for us sometimes to know why we do what we do. St. Paul wrote, “I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do” (Romans 7:18-19). I think that Judas was in fact responsible for his own actions, just as we are responsible for our own actions. But sin is hard to explain. How can we resist it when we don’t even understand it where it comes from?

 

We can only resist sin by falling back into the redeeming arms of Jesus. Jesus died for you and me. And whether or not Judas’ sin was forgivable, he represents our entire world of sinners, for whom Jesus died. What do you think of the idea that Jesus died for you and for me, but also for Judas?

 

The problem was that Judas took matters into his own hands to try to control events – why this happened is not clear. Who was responsible, God, Satan, or Judas himself? We cannot know. But one thing we can be sure of is that we cannot trust ourselves. We can only trust God. Trust in God will allow us to put ourselves in Jesus’ arms, and Jesus will keep us safe. We need Jesus to save us from the power of sin. And he will! Lord Jesus, guide us, protect us, save us. Amen.

 

Pastor Janet Blair

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