One of the holiest days – Passover – is drawing near and instead of engaging in prayerful preparation, the chief priests and scribes are wracking their brains over how they can put Jesus to death. Their obsession.
But they were afraid. Not a fear of God and His judgment, but a fear of people. They couldn’t risk the public uproar if they arrested Him among the crowds that were always surrounding Him. God knows, they have tried and tried and tried unsuccessfully to deceitfully trap Him. But to no avail. He is too smart for that.
They needed another plan. They needed to know where He retreated; where He went in private. They needed to do it then and there. But how?
To their pleasant surprise, in walks Judas. One of the twelve who Jesus hand-selected after prayer and fasting to be His disciple. One of the twelve who camped with Him, ate with Him, listened to Him teach, watched Him heal…for three years!
“High offices in the church do not preserve the holders of them from great blindness and sin,” says J.C. Ryle. This is crystal clear in observing the religious leaders in Jesus’ time.
And to these religious leaders, Judas looked like a committed follower of Jesus from the outside. But here he is. Offering to betray Jesus for only thirty pieces of silver. They couldn’t have orchestrated a better plan.
Why Judas? We are told Satan enters Judas. But don’t let that fool you into thinking Judas was an innocent bystander. We know from John’s gospel that this same Judas was a lover of money and helped himself regularly to the moneybag. Perhaps Judas rationalized that he had been betrayed by Jesus. He signed up to be part of a political superpower, not a humility and service gig. He loved money and power and prestige more than he loved Jesus.
John Piper notes, “Satan has power where sinful passions hold sway.”
Deception and greed opened a door in the heart of Judas, and Satan capitalized on it. “The devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
George Morrison says, “not only did Judas sell Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, but he also sold himself.”
Sin will destroy us, but God’s plan will never be destroyed. The cross meant to kill is our victory.
It is a powerful reminder not to be deceived by how something appears on the outside. But even more importantly, a reminder to check our heart and motives frequently. To do whatever it takes to keep that door of our heart slammed shut from Satan slithering his way through.
“Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it.” (2 Corinthians 13:5 MSG)
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