If Satan was the Instigator, was Judas Really at Fault?


24Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, "Ask him which one he means." 25Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, "Lord, who is it?" 26Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. 27As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him (John 13:24-27).

There has been much speculation as to the motive of Judas in betraying Jesus, prompting questions such as, “If Satan was the instigator, was Judas really at fault?” Another question is, “If all that happened was meant to be and Jesus knew that Judas would betray him, then did Judas have a choice in the matter?” Furthermore, “Did Judas truly repent and receive forgiveness for what he did?”

Although we may not be sure of these answers, we will examine some of the possibilities. First, we are told in Luke 22:3 that "Satan entered Judas, one of the twelve." Does that mean that Satan controlled his actions, and if so, was Judas culpable (at blame) for his actions? Even the most demonized person in the Bible, the man of Gadara in whom the evil demon called itself Legion, was still able to run toward Jesus as soon as he saw Christ (Mark 5). If the demon were in full control, he would have run away from the Lord. No, all of us are responsible for the wrong actions and motives we undertake. None of us will be able to say in the Day of Judgment that Satan made us sin. As to Judas' repenting, Jesus said, "The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born” (Matthew 26:24).

Judas could not hide his betrayal from the Lord. He was very good at looking like a believer, doing the same things, attending the same meetings, dishing out bread to the hungry, but at the core of his heart, there had been no change at the center of his life. Jesus made it clear about the need for an inner transformation, saying, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Judas had been with Christ for more than three years. In that time, he had seen much evidence of Who Jesus was, yet his heart had grown darker as he hardened his heart to the Spirit’s promptings. In fact, in one place Jesus called Judas the embodiment of the devil:Then Jesus replied, ‘Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!’” (John 6:70). The Lord knew early on in His ministry just where Judas’ heart was:

“Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him (John 6:64).

Can I ask you, dear reader, do you believe—are you trusting Christ with your life? Or is it all a sham in front of others? Only you and the Lord know the correct answer to that question. You need a change in your inner person—you must be born-again or born from above (John 3:3). Keith Thomas

Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke. Click on study 58. The Betrayal of Jesus.