“Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude.” (Luke 22:3-6).
That which is contained in these verses is both sad and solemn. It is a subject full of serious warning to every hypocrite. Yet, it is a subject that is instructive and comforting to believing sinners. Here the Holy Spirit describes the betrayal of our Savior by Judas Iscariot, showing us how our sovereign God and Savior used the deeds of the most infamous man in history to accomplish his purpose of grace in the redemption of his elect and to fulfil the Scriptures in his death.
“Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot.” — First, let me tell you something about this horrible man, Judas Iscariot. There were four men named Jude, or Judas, in the New Testament.
“Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot.” — It is important to notice the time God the Holy Spirit identifies for us when Satan is here said to have entered into Judas. This was two days before the passover. It happened while our Savior was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper (Matt. 26:2-17; Mark 14:1-11). In fact, Mark’s account seems to indicate that the thing Satan used to trigger Judas’ wickedness was the devotion of the woman who anointed the Savior with precious spikenard for his burial, and the Master’s commendation of her good work. Immediately after our Savior commended this woman and her work, Judas “went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them” (Mark 14:10).
John tells us that this happened before the supper in Simon’s house ended (John 13:2). While they were at the table in Simon’s house, you will remember, the Lord Jesus arose from the supper and washed his disciples’ feet. (This was not at the Lord’s Supper, but at the supper in Simon’s house in Bethany.) Then, the Savior told the disciples that one of them would betray him. When they wondered which of them would do the horrible deed, he said, “He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly” (John 13:26-27). Though the Lord Jesus had spoken very plainly, the disciples failed to realize that he had identified Judas as the betrayer. But Judas “having received the sop went immediately out” to betray him (John 13:30).
Immediately following the supper at Bethany, while Judas was making his dastardly deal with the chief priests, the Lord Jesus sent Peter and John into Jerusalem to prepare for the passover. Then, when the appointed hour arrived, “he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him,” to keep the passover feast (Luke 22:14; Matt. 26:20; Mark 14:17). Our Savior kept the passover feast with his disciples, as was required by the law (Luke 22:15-18). In verses 19-20 he established the gospel ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, by which God’s saints in this gospel age remember the Savior and symbolically “show the Lord’s death, till he come” (1 Cor. 11:26).
Judas at the Table
I have said all that, because I want you to see, and to see clearly, that Judas was at the table with the Lord Jesus and his disciples when the Lord’s Supper was established. In verses 21 and 22 we are plainly told that after making his hellish deal to betray the Son of God, Judas was present with the twelve and kept the first observance of the Lord’s Supper with them. The Lord Jesus said, “Behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!” What a base, crass, hard-hearted hypocrite Judas must have been! Apparently, he came only to cover his tracks; but there he is sitting with the Son of God and his apostles as the Savior established the blessed ordinance of sweet communion, just as though he was part of the communion!
This is important because there are multitudes who would have us “fence the table,” or not observe it at all, lest someone eat the bread and wine with us who is an unbeliever. Some would even keep other believers from the table. Such practices are terribly evil.
Be sure you understand what the Scriptures teach regarding the Lord’s Supper. Like believer’s baptism, it is a blessed, gospel ordinance of worship; and, like baptism, it is an ordinance to be observed by believers only. If you do not trust Christ as your Savior, if you do not discern the Lord’s body (That is to say, “If you do not know why Christ came into this world and what he accomplished, if you do not know your need of him as your sin-atoning Substitute.”) you must not join God’s children at the Lord’s Table. The ordinance is not for you. To eat the bread and drink the wine without such God-given, spiritual discernment is to eat and drink damnation to yourself.
But, if you are a believer, if you do trust Christ alone as your Lord and Savior, the Table is prepared and set for you. No believer is unworthy to receive the bread and wine in remembrance of the Savior. In fact, every believer is specifically told to eat the bread and drink the wine in remembrance of the Savior, and to do so often (Matt. 26:26-28). The observance of the Lord’s Supper is no more optional than believer’s baptism. And it is just as evil to refuse one of the Lord’s children their place at the Table, as it would be to refuse baptism to one to whom he has given faith in Christ.
Who makes the decision? Who decides who shall eat the bread and drink the wine? The Scriptures tell us plainly. Each person must examine himself. You, and you alone, are to determine whether you are a sinner whose only hope of salvation and eternal life is the crucified Son of God. It is not the pastor’s responsibility, or the responsibility of the church’s elders or deacons. It is the responsibility of the individual, and no one else, to determine whether he does or does not trust Christ as his Savior.
The Lord Jesus knew that Judas was a devil from the beginning, and knew that he had already made arrangements to betray him for thirty pieces of silver. He spoke so pointedly to Judas about these things, that he had no excuse for his hellish hypocrisy. But the Master did nothing to keep that devil from eating the bread and drinking the wine.
“One of the Twelve”
We are told that Judas was “of the number of the twelve” (v. 3). He was “one of the twelve” (v. 47). Those twelve men formed the most elite group of men ever to walk across the face of the earth. Yet, “one of the twelve” apostles of Christ was Judas Iscariot, Judas the murderous traitor. When the Lord chose Judas to the office of an apostle, he knew he was a devil (John 6:70-71). When the Lord Jesus commissioned the others, Judas was commissioned with them. When our Savior sent out the twelve to cast out devils, heal the sick, and preach the kingdom of God, Judas was among them (Luke 9:1-6). It seems to me that Judas must have even performed the same miracles that the other apostles performed; else he may have been detected by them.
All this was done, though the Lord Jesus knew exactly who and what Judas was. Rather than questioning these things, we ought to immediately recognize that our Savior had wise and gracious designs in them. Judas was a man specifically raised up to stand as a glaring beacon to warn all men, telling all that outward religion without inward grace is not only useless, but damning. Judas was chosen to be a preacher and even an apostle. Without question, he preached exactly the same doctrine as Peter, James, and John, the very doctrine that Christ preached. But Judas was a devil. He was never born again. He was never called to life and faith in Christ by God the Holy Spirit. Judas was never made a partaker of Christ and a partaker of the grace of God.
He was nothing but an outward, empty hearted professor of faith in Christ, not a possessor of grace. He was an apostle (a messenger of God) in name only. Peter said he was “numbered with” the apostles and had “obtained part” of their ministry (Acts 1:17). He obtained part, just an outside part, of the apostles’ ministry, no more. He had the name and the office, the duties and the doctrine, the fame and the functions of an apostle, but nothing more. He had no grace in his heart and no gifts of the Spirit. Those who heard him preach heard cold, dry, empty echoes of a cold, dry, empty heart.
I fear there are multitudes like Judas today who fill the pulpits of churches. They are ordained by men, but not by God the Holy Spirit. They are talented, but not gifted with grace. They are forceful, but not faithful. Their doctrine may be profound and precise, but it is not pure. It may elevate your thinking, but it will not edify your soul. It may swell your head, but it will not sanctify your heart.
Such a man was Judas. He was a devil from the beginning and remained a devil to the end, though he was numbered with, and constantly associated with the apostles to the end of his days, until the measure of his iniquity was filled. Then, he went “to his own place” (Acts 1:25). We should never be surprised by the appearance of such men, or surprised that they go undetected, even by the faithful (Matt. 7:22-23).
Judas, also, stands as a constant, blessed beacon of light, proclaiming forever that all Satan’s devices, and all the deeds of even the most malicious men shall never hurt God’s cause, injure his people, or hinder the gospel. The Apostles were not hindered in their work because Judas was among them. The disciples were not harmed by his presence at the Table. Our Savior was not hindered, but only helped in his determination to redeem us by Judas’ betrayal. In fact, it was Judas’ fall from the number of the twelve that made room for the twelfth true apostle, the apostle Paul.
In choosing Judas to be an apostle and allowing a devil to sit at the Lord’s Table with his disciples our Savior assures us that his saints are not polluted or harmed in anyway because a Judas is among them. The Lord’s true disciples did not lose a thing because Judas was among them. They had Christ with them. Their joy was not diminished because Judas was there.
If, indeed, the Lord Jesus meets with us when we gather to worship him as he promised (Matt. 18:20), we will suffer no loss if a devil dares try to hide himself from God among the sons of God (Job 1:6). If God the Holy Spirit will lead us “by the footsteps of the flock”, where the Good Shepherd feeds his sheep (Song 1:8), our souls shall be blessed with his flock, though there may be a goat or two among the sheep, or even a lion lying in wait. He will prepare a table for us, even in the presence of our enemies, anoint our heads with the oil of his grace, and cause our cups to run over.
Wheat and Tares
Yes, our Savior had wise and gracious designs in his use of Judas. He knew that his church, so long as we are in this world, would never be free from false apostles, false preachers, and false prophets. And he knew that tares would grow together with the wheat until the harvest. Goats will ever be found among his sheep in this world. Wherever the good fish are gathered by the gospel net, carps will be gathered too. And this is exactly according to his purpose. Yet, the “precious and the vile” are still perfectly distinct, and between them there is “a great gulf fixed.” Tares will never become wheat. Goats will never become sheep. And bad fish will never become good fish. The seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent cannot be mixed.
Betrayed with a Kiss
Skip down to Luke 22:47. The Lord Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane. He has finished praying. When he arose from prayer, he found Peter, James, and John “sleeping for sorrow” (v. 45). When he did, he said, “Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation” (v. 46). Read verses 47-54.
“And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him. Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves? When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house.
Here is a multitude of Roman soldiers armed with swords and spears, and Jews with the chief priests, with Judas leading the way. “Judas was guide to them that took Jesus” (Acts 1:16). But, why would such a huge multitude come to arrest one unarmed man? Were they afraid of him? It appears that they were. It is obvious that the soldiers, as well as the Jews, had heard that this man claimed to be more than a mere man. He claimed to be God in the flesh; and his disciples all worshipped him as God. We know that the soldiers were aware of this, because one of them later declared, “Truly this man was the Son of God” (Mark 15:39).
It is certain that none of the princes of this world really knew him, “for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8). Yet, these men knew that he openly claimed to be “the Lord of Glory,” and feared that he might be. And he showed them that their fears were justified (John 18:4-8). And, it is obvious that, though Judas was determined to betray him, he was terrified of him. Matthew tells us that he told the soldiers as soon as they saw him kiss the Lord Jesus, they should hold him fast (Matt. 26:48).
Why did he use such precautions? There was in that devil of a man a terrifying conviction that Christ was more than man. He could not have forgotten the miracles of Christ. He had seen the Master escape from the hands of his enemies, when they sought to throw him over the hill of the city (Luke 4:29-31). Therefore, he told them to bind him and lead him away securely (Mark 14:44).
These men, all of them, must have been terrified as they led the Savior out of Gethsemane. They all had seen and heard enough that night to convince them that this man is God. Our Lord took the initiative, approaching them with not the slightest twinge of fear. He had declared, “I AM,” and they fell away backward before him. He picked Malchus’ right ear up off the ground and replaced it before their eyes.
They knew who they were dealing with, and must have been utterly terrified. Yet, such is the deadness and depravity of the human heart, that sinners cannot act contrary to the evil determination of their own wicked hearts and wills, unless they are graciously compelled to do so by God the Holy Spirit. Even when stricken with terror, they cannot and will not repent, except God give them repentance. If we know, by the sweet experience of his grace, what it is to repent, what it is to trust Christ our hearts ought to constantly bow before him with gratitude and dance before him with joy!
Christ in Control
Though bound like a criminal, our Lord Jesus Christ was in absolute control, even of this mob. He was overruling their malice for his own glory that the Scriptures might be fulfilled. Our sovereign Savior was, by the use of these wicked men, accomplishing the prophecies of the Old Testament Scriptures. He was taken by force, but not by the force of these men. He was taken captive by them by the force of his own determination to die in our place upon the cursed tree, and to do so exactly according to the Scriptures.
According to the Scripture, he had to be betrayed by one who was familiar with him and called his friend, one in whom he confided, one who had eaten of his bread (Ps. 41:9). According to the Scripture, the sacrifice for sin had to be bound. Therefore, our Savior voluntarily stretched out his hand to be bound by sinners (Ps. 118:27). As Isaac was voluntarily bound and laid upon the altar, our blessed Savior was, by his own voluntary will, bound by these wicked men that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
Jews and Gentiles
This wicked band of murderous men was a mob of rebels, composed of both Jews and Gentiles. Though utterly unconscious of the fact, they were visibly and undeniably fulfilling that which was written of them in the 2nd Psalm hundreds of years earlier. We know that the actions of these men was the fulfillment of the 2nd Psalm because the Spirit of God specifically tells us that is the case in Acts 4:24-28.
“And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.”
Brought to the High Priest
In verse 54 Luke says, “Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house.” When they came to arrest our Savior in the Garden, it was the intention of this mob to deliver him up to the Romans, to give him a mock trial, and murder him. These soldiers did not come representing the Jews’ or their high priest. They were Roman soldiers. Why, then, did they take him first to the high priest?
Again, though they had no idea what they were doing, they acted directly contrary to their own inclinations to fulfill the purpose of our God. Roman soldiers would not willingly do anything just to please the despised Jews over whom they ruled. And they probably acted in direct disobedience to their orders. These men were the Roman governor’s soldiers. It is highly unlikely that the governor sent them out with orders to arrest the Lord Jesus and take him to the high priest’s house. It seems to me that he would have ordered them to bring the Lord Jesus directly to him.
Why, then, do you suppose they took him to the house of the high priest? If you will read the 1st chapter of Leviticus, you will see that the sacrifice for sin had to be brought first to the priest. Why did they bring Christ first into “the high priest’s house”? They did it that Christ might die for our sins according to the Scriptures, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.
Christ our Passover, our Sin-offering, our Sacrifice, had to be bound and led away, as all sacrifices under the law were, to the high priest. And both Jew and Gentile had to be involved in the great work. So they drug the Lord Jesus to the high priest, then to the Governor, and then to Pilate, and at last to Mount Calvary, where he was crucified by the hands of wicked men, according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, “according to the Scriptures” (Isa. 53:4-12).
“His Own Place”
When he had done that for which he was ordained, that for which his vile, base heart lusted, this hard, impenitent rebel, Judas, the man of murder, went to his own place in hell, and that by his own hand. We are specifically told, “Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place” (Matt. 27:3-5; Acts 1:18-25).
What a horrible death Judas died! Being condemned in himself, he committed suicide, hanging himself. Then, “falling headlong, he burst asunder, and all his bowels gushed out.” What a spectacle! How just! Then he went to his own place in hell. Imagine if you dare, what has followed. — Throughout the unimaginable miseries of eternity, Judas is forced to endure, to the everlasting torment of his soul, the unceasing condemnation of his own guilty, damning conscience. In the screeches of the damned, this fire burns in his soul and this worm never dies, Judas’ own conscience ceaselessly screams, “Would God I had never been born! Would God I had never been born! I am justly damned forever! I am the man who betrayed the Lord of life and glory with a kiss!”
Christ’s Appointed Place
Yet, it was by the hand of Judas, the man of murder, that the Lord Jesus Christ, our blessed Savior, went to his appointed place, at his appointed time, and finished his appointed work as our Savior, justified us with his own blood, forever put away our sins by the sacrifice of himself, and obtained eternal redemption for us, dying “for our sins according to the Scriptures.”
Our Own Place
The end result of all this is glorious. Because Christ took our place at Calvary, because he was made sin for us, we have been made the righteousness of God in him; and soon we shall be brought, by his omnipotent grace and immaculate mercy, into our own place with him in heaven at last!
What will your place be? Will you be brought down to your own place in hell by your own hands, by your willful, obstinate rebellion refusing to bow to the Son of God? Oh, may God graciously save you from yourself by his grace, give you life and faith in his darling Son, and sweetly force you to enter into life eternal by Christ the Door. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Trust the Son of God now; and soon he will bring you to your own place, the place prepared for you from the foundation of the world, and present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.