Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. Luke 22:3-4
Everyone knows that Judas betrayed Jesus, but why did Judas betray him? In the end we’ll never know, because Judas killed himself shortly afterward and his motives were lost to history. Luke records that “Satan entered Judas.” What in the world does that mean? Most of our minds go to the Exorcist with heads spinning around and levitating bodies. But I don’t think that’s what happened. More than likely, all Satan did was have to plant an idea, a deception in Judas’ mind, and Judas took it and ran with it. That’s been Satan’s preferred plan of attack from the very beginning (Genesis 3:1).
Why would Judas betray Jesus? Like the expectation of the crowds, he could have signed up to follow Jesus because he thought Jesus was his one-way ticket to a revolution against Rome. But Jesus would never pick a fight with the Romans. Every time Jesus got a crowd, he would offend them and send them away. Every time someone gave him money, he would give it away. So, perhaps Judas was disillusioned with Jesus and wanted his golden parachute. If was going to walk away, he might as well walk away with some money in his pocket.
There’s a lot of debate on this. Some think that Judas intentionally handed Jesus over to the chief priests precisely because he knew they couldn’t kill Jesus. They would beat him and humiliate him, but then let him go. Little did he know that they would conspire with the hated Romans to kill Jesus. Or perhaps he knew Jesus would be handed over to the Romans but he was convinced that the Messiah would never allow himself to be killed. Messiahs don’t die! Perhaps he was trying to force Jesus’ hand and start the revolution one way or another.
Whatever the reason, I’m convinced that when Judas betrayed Jesus, he was convinced in his own mind that he was doing the right thing, perhaps even doing God’s will. Just like the Pharisees and the chief priests were convinced they were doing God’s will when they put Jesus to death. Isn’t it amazing how much harm we can do when we’re convinced we’re doing God’s will? History is littered with hurt done by the church when she was convinced she was doing God’s will. Millions of people who have unnecessarily walked away from the church bear scars from the church when she thought she was doing God’s will. Isn’t that the enemy’s greatest deception?