Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. 11 And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.
43 And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” 45 And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 46 And they laid hands on him and seized him. – Mark 14:10-11, 43-46
People like to conjecture about Judas’ motives for betraying Jesus. Some have excused him, saying that he had no real choice in the matter. Some say he was trying to force Jesus’ hand: making him assert himself and set up his kingdom on earth. Others say it was simply for the sake of greed: 30 pieces of silver enticed him.
Some wonder whether Judas really knew who Jesus was. It he did, they surmise, surely they would not have handed Jesus over. Surely he would have trusted him to do the right thing at the right time.
That’s all well and good, but it misses the reality mentioned in Luke 22:3: Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. There was another force at work behind the scenes here. We have here the unholy trinity at work seeking to thwart the work of Jesus. The devil enters Judas who is compromised in his own flesh by greed. All this while the world conspires through the religious leaders to get rid of Jesus.
These three enemies of God and people continue to conspire to undo Jesus’ work. The devil will always tempt us. The world will always hold out an easier way. Our own flesh will always be drawn away from God. These three relentless forces pursue us for evil purposes. It should not be too difficult for us to understand Judas’ motives.
We may still not know all of Judas’ motives. But Jesus did and does. He is perfectly aware of what is in the heart of man. He knows the wiles of Satan better than anyone else. He’s fully aware of the broken world and its corruption. He knows what will happen. He knows about the kiss. He knows he will face the cross. And he does nothing to thwart these enemies.
Evil will always ultimately collapse under its own weight. All the deceit and scheming will ultimately serve for God’s glory. For Jesus will remain faithful. Under the greatest duress imaginable Jesus keeps faith. For not only does Jesus know the intent and motives of Judas, he also knows the pure goodness and boundless love, the infinite faithfulness and ultimate end of true righteousness. He promises that those who believe in him will reign with him in the life of the world to come.