Luke 22:1–6: The Plot to Kill Jesus, Judas to Betray Jesus
Luke 22 starts with mention that the Passover was approaching, and the chief priests and scribes were trying to figure out how to put Jesus to death, “for they feared the people” (verse 2). But then Satan provides them an opportunity, because he “entered into” Judas Iscariot (verse 3), who then confers with the religious leaders to scheme with them as to how he can betray Jesus. This is great for them, so they agree to pay him some money, and he promises to find an opportunity to betray Jesus to them.
I know I’ve mentioned it in other recent passages, but the authority of the religious leaders vs. the authority of Jesus becomes plain in the religious leaders’ fear of the people. The religious leaders want to get rid of Jesus; even if we give them the benefit of the doubt—perhaps some or all of them really do think Jesus is a blasphemer, and actually worthy of death (as opposed to wanting to get rid of him simply because he’s taking “power” that they feel should be theirs)—they still don’t feel they can act on this without the tacit approval of the people. Which causes us to wonder how much authority they actually have if they can’t do what is “right” just because the people disapprove. (As we’ll see in subsequent passages, their fear was somewhat ungrounded anyway; the people will be calling for Jesus’ crucifixion right along with the religious leaders, when the time comes.)
When Judas decides to betray Jesus, Luke adds the detail that Satan entered into him. We should remember, however that “the devil made me do it” is never a valid excuse for sin; even if Satan tempts us, we’re responsible for acting on those temptations. It’s clear from other parts of the Gospels that Judas hasn’t been a true believer of Jesus for a while; it’s not that he’d been believing right along with John and Peter and the others and suddenly Satan changed his mind. Rather, Satan whispered into his ear about doubts Judas already had.
What I don’t understand, however—and I’ve mentioned this before—is why Judas needed to “betray” Jesus the way he did. I don’t mean morally, I mean logistically: when we get there we’ll see that he’s going to kiss Jesus, to “betray” him over to the ones who are seeking him. But… why was that necessary? The religious rulers already knew who Jesus was. When Judas leads people to Jesus and essentially says “here he is,” I simply don’t understand why that was necessary.