Holy Wednesday: Judas’ Betrayal

Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Texts: Luke 22:1-6

The Gospel of Luke puts it in an interesting way when it says, “Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.” (Luke 22:3)

From all indications Judas loved money, valuing it even above his calling as an Apostle, even more than his calling from Christ. John’s Gospel put it plainly enough when it was said, “This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.” (John 12:6) Yet obviously, there was perhaps a place where he drew the line. It could have been that he knew the designs of the Priests, and the hatred they had for Christ, and he would have otherwise wanted nothing to do with it. It could have been that, at least in his mind, it was one thing to steal from the purse, but it was another thing to betray Jesus to the hands of those who sought his death.

He was, after all, a thief, not a murderer….

But then that’s how Satan preys upon us. Often times he starts off slowly. It’s a little temptation here, a small sin there. It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that, as we find ourselves seduced by these little enticements. Suddenly those little compromises on our character, those small conciliations become larger and larger as they take up more room in our lives, as they occupy more of our thoughts and minds. Suddenly we are doing something we never imagined that we would do as we find that the line has become so blurred that it doesn’t even seem to exist anymore.

Satan is crafty in that way, having had the entire course of human history to learn, to study, to understand our nature better than we do ourselves. He can manipulate us in ways we never thought possible before we even know what hit us. It is why the Apostle Paul tells us to “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11) while Peter warns us that the devil is a roaring lion waiting to devour us. (1 Peter 5:8)

Though it is easy to demonize him, in a very real sense we have to consider the fact that we are not entirely different than Judas Iscariot. Though our pet sins, and temptations may be different, our weakness of the flesh and sinful nature are the same, leaving the same openings to Satan if we are not on constant guard. We perhaps may say that we would never betray him, the truth is with every sin and iniquity we commit, with every injustice we perpetuate, every wickedness we embrace, we turn Christ over to the cross. We may not receive thirty pieces of silver for it, but we do have the gratification that we receive from this world, and it isn’t that entirely different.

The story of Judas should be a story that causes us to reflect on ourselves and our own lives. It should give us pause to think about where we stumble and falter, where we battle our own demons of sin and temptation, and perhaps where we stumble along the way. It should open our eyes to where we have allowed ourselves to be weak and have perhaps open ourselves up to letting Satan in, that we may strengthen ourselves in the Spirit against his attacks.

In that sense, more than any of the other of the 12 Judas can teach us more about human nature and its relationship with the Devil.

We would be wise to heed it.

Now may the peace of the Lord that transcends all human understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus even unto life everlasting. Amen.

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