Timing is everything. We know that in our daily lives. There are situations where an event doesn’t seem like it can happen until something else takes place. We don’t always understand those delays. Inevitably we chafe at being hindered, but then it turns out for the good. Many of us have heard accounts of someone who planned to take a particular airline flight, was detained, and because of that, his life was saved because the plane went down. In more mundane circumstances, this same delay has enabled some to escape a vehicle traffic accident they otherwise would have been right in the middle of. If we view these cases and more through a Biblical lens, we can appreciate Romans 8:28 which assures us:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
All things work together for good. Everything? No, not necessarily, only for those who are called according to his purpose.
Would this have applied to Judas Iscariot? Did his betrayal work for the good? Was he called according to the purpose of God?
Actually, yes. In John 17:12, Jesus says in prayer to the Father:
While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
In speaking of Judas as the son of destruction (or perdition), Jesus declares that he was lost in order to fulfill prophecy. Which prophecy was that? It is found in Isaiah 53:5, among others:
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
Judas had to betray Jesus so that He would die for our sins and rise from the dead as the firstfruit of the resurrection.
This betrayal had God’s timing written all over it. What was the sequence? Jesus performed the first Communion, i.e. the first Lord’s Supper, as detailed in Luke 22:14-23. He offered the cup, which represented His blood as the new covenant, then He broke the bread, which was in remembrance of the breaking of His body.
As each disciple took a morsel of bread, he dipped it into the cup to eat it. Symbolically, Jesus’ body was immersed in blood before being consumed. Only when Judas had done this and eaten the blood-soaked bread (so to speak) – only then did Satan enter into him. Timing is everything.
Why didn’t Satan possess Judas sooner? We can’t know exactly how this went down, but it appears that the symbolism was important. It seems that Satan either needed that act of false worship and reverence to Jesus on the part of Judas, or he simply wanted to savor it before claiming Judas as his own.
What was the betrayal? It was one of the heart. It was a falseness within Judas whereby he had been going through the motions, but had never fully committed himself to Jesus as God and having come from the Father. He had conformed to the expectations around him and what he saw in the other disciples, but he had never actually been transformed. In the presence of God Himself, Judas had rejected Him every bit as much as the religious Jews who sought to trap Jesus at every opportunity.
Perhaps it was this final act of pretending to take the bread and wine in remembrance that Satan yearned to experience. Can you hear Satan laughing? The remembrance in view for him was the soon death of the Son of God. How long had he plotted and schemed? Over the ages he had done everything possible to thwart God’s will for the redemption of mankind – the redemption that had been necessitated because of Satan’ original rebellion in the Garden in the tempting of Adam and Eve.
He had tried time and again to eradicate the Jews and the Hebrew nation from which he knew Messiah would. More recently, he had tried to cause Jesus to turn from the Father and worship him. Any of these actions, had he been successful, would have sufficed. With Judas, he finally had the perfect man for the plan. Satan had riled up the religious community against Jesus, and now he had one whose heart was impure – one whom he could manipulate because this foolish human lusted for money; he had an idolatrous love of it.
As Judas dipped the bread into the wine and ate, the timing was perfect. The symbolism was complete. Satan could then cause this one who had been chosen from the beginning to complete the act of betrayal.
So much happens around us; we consider it just part of daily life. Yet, we also know that God is continually working. For whatever reason God in His sovereignty had chosen Judas, it was for the ultimate good. Judas had actually been called according to God’s purpose. Thus, when John 13:30 tells us:
So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
… Judas was doing God’s will. More than that, we see in this verse the truth of evil. It occurs at night. It is in the darkness that Satan works in order to cause men to stumble.
Never think that coincidences just happen. There is so much more going on all around us in the spiritual realm than we can possibly imagine. It’s why we’re warned in Ephesians 6:12 of the spiritual war in which we’re engaged. We have to do our part by being prepared for battle. If our hearts aren’t right, and if we’re not committed fully to God, danger lurks. We may not have a divine purpose such as Judas did, but without abiding in Christ – even as Jesus says we must – we can become dry and withered, as a branch separated from the vine (John 15). That can lead one to a terrible and dark place.
The days are evil. More and more we must keep focused on the only One who can save us.
Help us, Lord. Keep us rooted in You.