As we enter Luke’s account of the Easter story, things are getting difficult for Jesus. At the end of Luke 21, we see Jesus as a popular preacher with the regular people flocking to him in the temple precincts every day. But the religious leaders are angry and frustrated and tired of Jesus’ provocations and independence. They know they are losing control of the ordinary people and are determined to find a chink in Jesus’ armour so they can get rid of him.
Read Luke 22:1-6
The Jewish religious leaders could see no way around Jesus’ popularity. They didn’t want to lose face by causing a stir and having the people rebel against them. So they saw Judas’ offer of betrayal as a god-send. I guess it was. Judas’ disloyalty did not happen unbeknown to Jesus. He was fully aware of it and he knew that behind all of these dreadful events was the decree of God (22:22-23). Nothing happened to Jesus, or will happen to us for that matter, outside of the will of God. God is here in this passage working out his plan. It’s not that God was impervious to Jesus’ pain and prayer; he just had a bigger plan for Jesus (as he does for us). His will usually takes his children through suffering, not around it. Many of us are encountering this at the moment with isolation and job losses and financial stresses and ill-health.
We’re not sure why Judas took such drastic action. He certainly was greedy, and this was a chance to make a few dollars. But I suspect it was probably more likely that he was tired of Jesus constantly sidestepping the pressure of the crowds to become a “real” king and was trying to force Jesus’ hand. If arrested by the leaders, surely Jesus would have to show his authority? Judas saw a lot of benefits in being part of the hierarchy of a new Jewish kingdom.
By the end of this Scripture it looks like Satan finally has the upper hand over Jesus. Satan has done his work (22:3), the Jewish religious leaders have found a patsy, and Judas has his money (Matt. 26:15). The bad guys have had the last laugh. You can imagine Satan rubbing his hands.
But nothing could be further from the truth. The eternal plans of God are in motion in a more powerful way than at any time in the history of the created world. This is bigger than Noah’s flood or the Israelite exodus or King David’s conquests. It’s bigger than COVID-19. This is the defining moment of history. All is about to be revealed.
We need to hold on to the truth that while God’s victory may come through unexpected means at surprising times, it will come.
Prayer: Praise God for the victory that is not apparent yet. Pray for those who feel disappointed and defeated at this challenging time – that God will protect them and open their eyes to his love, power and goodness.