Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. (Luke 22:3, NIV)
I am struck in reading Luke 22 this morning by the clear role of Satan in the betrayal of Jesus and the denials of Peter.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32, NIV)
I hear echoes of the testing of Job in Satan’s request to sift the disciples as wheat.
In this chapter, I hear Luke casting the entire passion in terms of a spiritual battle. Satan’s role as an active agent of betrayal and testing is more pronounced here than I recall him being in Matthew and Mark. John, of course, has Satan enter Jesus when he takes the bread fed to him by Jesus (John 13:27). What a strange passage that is.
Here in Luke, the trials of the passion strike me as being a continuation or extension of the testing that Jesus encountered in the desert. Now it is the hour for his disciples to be tested.
Does Judas fail the test? Is that why Satan entered him? Or was he powerless to resist? Luke describes a terrible end for Judas (Acts 1:18-20), but the overall tone does not have the same sense of guilt and remorse as Matthew’s account of the suicide of Judas (Matthew 27:3-10).
So, I find myself wondering how to react to Judas. In Luke, at least, he seems much less a scheming betrayer and much more a pawn of Satan, the one who fell like lightning from heaven (Luke 10:18). I find myself having sympathy for Judas.