The Guest That is Never Welcomed
Satan never takes a holiday, but he surely can create sorrow while others are seeking to enjoy theirs. His intrusive and belligerent spirit delights in bringing sorrow, grief, and sadness wherever he possibly can. That is never the nature of God. His desire that was made known in the life and teaching of Jesus was His offer of “life abundant” to all who believe.
Jesus was having a tremendous impact on the Passover in Jerusalem in the last week of His earthly ministry. From the time He had declared that He was “the One who was to come” to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah in Nazareth’s synagogue, He was targeted by religious leaders to be executed for what they firmly believed was blasphemy. Satan fanned the flame of their murderous ambitions. After all, had not His own words condemned Him? For in His hometown, the word had spread that Jesus read the Messianic passage in Isaiah months before while in Nazareth. The passage He chose to read stated, “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Isaiah 61:1-2). Then He stated that, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:21.
It was during His teaching on the Temple Mount on Wednesday of the Passion Week that He taught some of His most memorable parables. It was there that Jesus taught the parable of the vineyard (Mt 21:33-46), the parable of the wedding banquet (Mt. 22:1), the teaching on paying taxes (Mt 22:15), and the rebuke of the Sadducees who denied the resurrection (Mt. 22:23). There was also the fearful prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem if the inhabitants did not come to faith in Him: Jesus warned that not one stone would be left on another (Mt 24).
Sadly, the religious leaders were not focused on learning from Jesus but rather seeking to destroy Him. They could not trap Him theologically. They could not refute His miracles. They could not dissuade the opinion of the masses of people to go against Him. But Satan has a way of stirring up jealousy and envy to the point that eliminating one that has more effectiveness, popularity, or success than those in leadership has real possibilities. The arrest and execution of One so popular and that demonstrated such power would have to be done with great finesse lest a riot ensue.
So, Satan stirred the heart of Judas to arrange with the priests on this day of Passion Week to betray Jesus into their hands. The priests were elated. Never in their wildest dreams did they imagine that one of His closest followers would be willing to sell Him out. Jesus was not surprised. He knew Judas and He knew His heart. Jesus said of Judas that he was “the son of perdition” (John 17:12). Perdition means “eternal damnation” or “utter destruction”.
Judas was a pawn of Satan to turn Jesus over to be crucified. Have you ever betrayed a friend through your speech, behavior, or lack of compassion? Has it happened to you? Then you know the sting of that experience to have one close to you turn on you. Imagine doing that to Jesus! But wait, we have done that! We have been guilty at different times of “leaving” our first love and betraying our Master. May God help us this Easter to be mindful of His great love for us and “repent and return” to follow Him more closely!