1Now 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.
One of the beautiful things about hindsight is that you can look back and see someone’s long-view. In today’s passage we find a reactionary scheme (Judas’) that plays into God (and Satan’s!) long-view plan. Walk with me through this passage and you’ll see the absolute perfection of God’s love working out our salvation – at least the beginning stages.
We’ve read all through Luke about the scribes and Pharisees schemes to undo the ministry of Jesus. There are actually only two players in this game – God and Satan. But Judas, the Pharisees, and the crowd also play a role as pawns. Since we are reading this story as history we know how it all turns out, but that also allows us to sift through the details of the narrative and see God’s fingerprints all over Jesus’ saving death and resurrection.
Way back at the very beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, immediately after His baptism, Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. At the end of the event, these words are recorded:
13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Now in Luke 22:3 we find the fulfillment of that “opportune time”. Judas is the perfect pawn in Satan’s plan because he is dissatisfied with how Jesus is running things. Judas had plans other than the one that Jesus is apparently playing out. He wanted money and fame in this life and that was certainly not on Jesus’ list of things to accomplish. Satan now becomes an active force in the passion. Judas behaves as he does because Satan has entered him. This does not remove Judas’ guilt, but it explains the perversity of his actions in the context of the plan of God for salvation. Apart from Judas’ help, the religious establishment is stymied by their fear of the crowds. Satan prompts the availability of Judas. The plan moves forward at the appointed hour. By showing that Satan initiated the plot against Jesus, Luke raises the passion to a level where the spoils of victory are ultimately about The End of all things.
So with these words, Luke sets up the three days of Passion that Jesus walks through for our salvation. It is a grand story and one that is worth rehearsing over and over, for in that story is our eternal security found.