April 16 I Tuesday
1 Samuel 30-31
“Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him over to you?’” —Matthew 26:14-15
During the Last Supper, Jesus caught the disciples totally by surprise. “Truly, I tell you,” He said, “one of you will betray Me.” The disciples began to question one another, and each responded, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?” (Matthew 26:21-22).
It might surprise some of us that the disciples did not immediately point their fingers at Judas. To this day, his name is a byword for betrayal. In paintings of the disciples, Judas is often presented as a lean, gaunt-looking man with a darkened silhouette, his body turned slightly away from the others. His eyes are droopy, he looks pale, and we say to ourselves, “That’s obviously Judas Iscariot.” But in reality, Judas probably looked reliable. No one would trust an evil, conniving-looking man as their treasurer, yet that is exactly the job the disciples gave Judas. It was only looking back that John could write of him, “…he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it” (John 12:6).
How did Judas go from a thief to being willing to sell out His Saviour? The Gospels reveal a sequence of temptation. In John 13:2, we learn that before the Last Supper, the devil had already prompted Judas to betray Jesus. This was a prompting from outside—an idea, a thought, a whisper, a temptation to a bit of mischief. Instead of pushing this prompting away, Judas listened to it, and “Satan entered Judas” (Luke 22:3). The external prompting, unresisted by Judas, became a gateway for sin into his life until he passed a point of no return. His behaviour became determined by Satan’s influence, which led him to betray Jesus.
There is no, “So far and no farther,” when we listen to Satan. James writes, “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:15). Temptation is external, but if we allow it a foothold in our lives, it quickly gives birth to sin and takes root deep within us. Left unchecked, sin will grow, and we will find ourselves doing things years from now that we would never do now.
Judas did not start out knowing he would betray Jesus, but this was the result of entertaining temptation after temptation. When his conscience finally awoke, rather than allowing guilt to draw him back to Christ, Judas gave in to despair. We have all felt the shame and guilt of giving in to temptation, but this does not need to leave us without hope. Though we so often fail to resist temptation’s pull, a repentant heart finds strength and forgiveness in Christ.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are so much greater than any temptations we face. Strengthen me by Your Spirit, and forgive me for when I have given in to temptation’s pull. Thank You, God.