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
Here it is, Wednesday, midway through the last week of the Jesus’ life here on earth. It began with the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem with crowds proclaiming: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9) The chief priests and scribes were not pleased with this. Then, Jesus headed to the Temple to clean house, not with a broom but a whip, driving out animals and turning over tables. To say the least, the chief priests and scribes were really unhappy with Him. And we have seen that Jesus’ teaching in the temple and at Simon’s house showed the true colors of the chief priests, Pharisees, scribes and, well, let us just say everyone, especially the religious leaders. It was to the point that they “plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him” (Matthew 26:4).
And we have seen the entrance of Judas Iscariot into the events of Holy Week. What was it that caused Judas to seek a way to betray Jesus? What do we know about Judas?
He is named among the twelve disciples (Matthew 10:4). His father was Simon Iscariot (John 6:71). He was referred to by Jesus as “a devil” (John 6:70-71), referencing his coming betrayal. He was a thief (John 12:6). Ultimately, there is not much information on possibly one of the most infamous people in all of history.
We have already seen that it is likely that the root of his betrayal of Jesus was simply the love of money. Remember, Judas was the one who was indignant that the expensive perfume was poured out on Jesus rather than being sold to feed the poor (John 12:4-6). And any money that was given to Jesus’ ministry was in the money box that Judas kept and profited from.
Here is the truth of the matter, whatever his motives: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Judas had a heart problem. His heart was tied up in money – a thief left in charge of the money box. That heart problem – just like in each of our lives – made an easy target for Satan to tempt Judas. Certainly, Judas was aware that the religious leaders were looking for a way to kill Jesus. The religious leaders began much earlier in Jesus’ ministry, “but the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him” (Matthew 12:14). This was while John the Baptist was in prison. It was no secret that the religious leaders had a hatred for Jesus.
We are told in James 1:13-15 several important things to keep in mind regarding Judas: 1) God does not tempt, 2) each person is tempted when lead by his own desire, and 3) desire brings sin and, ultimately, death. Judas became the instrument of Satan, enticed by his own desire to have riches here on earth. To be precise, thirty pieces of silver (about five weeks of wages) was all Judas’ loyalty cost the religious leaders (Matthew 26:15).
Here is where the rubber meets the road. Judas did not begin following Jesus with a desire to betray Jesus. Somewhere along the line, his own desires got the best of him. How hard is it for us to not also fall in step with Judas? Each one of us reading this has desires of our own, desires that can lead us to follow God with our whole heart. We also have desires that can lead us into destruction.
The question for each one of us to answer as we live each day – and, particularly, through this Holy week – is this: what will I do with Jesus? Will I follow Jesus with my whole heart? Will I believe in my heart that God has raised Him from the dead and confess Jesus as Lord? Will I choose to submit my desires to Jesus and follow His leading?
We are standing on the edge of the abyss, just a step away from choosing wrong. Choose well. Choose Jesus.