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犹大的试探 The Temptation of Judas

Sermon passage: (Luke 22:1-6) Spoken on: March 14, 2021
More sermons from this speaker 更多该讲员的讲道: Rev. Wong Siow Hwee
For more of this sermon series 更多关于此讲道系列: Luke

Tags: LUKE 路加福音

Listen to sermon recording with the play button or download with the download link. 您可点播或下载讲道录音。
About Rev. Wong Siow Hwee: Rev. Wong is the moderator of Jubilee Church, serving there since 2002. 王晓晖牧师是禧年堂的主理牧师。自2002年,在那牧会将近20年。
Bible passage (ESV) of the sermon can be found at the bottom of the page.

Title: The Temptation of Judas
Date: 14th Mar 2021
Preacher: Rev. Wong Siow Hwee

This Sunday, we have passed the mid-point of Lent and in a couple of weeks we will be observing the Holy week. [1] And so in our gospel, the stories of the Lukan Gospel are also becoming more and more intense. The Jewish leaders have wanted to kill Jesus for quite some time. On one hand, there was no better time to strike than when Jesus was in Jerusalem, within their jurisdiction. On the other hand, it was also the worst possible time because Jesus arrived in the period of Passover when Jerusalem was packed with Jewish pilgrims. Passover was about the story of Exodus, so nationalistic sentiments during this period would be running high. One wrong move by the Jewish leaders could easily lead to an open rebellion against the Romans, which would be their worst nightmare scenario. The crowd was on Jesus’ side, so any public attempt to seize Jesus would have uncontrollable consequences. To remove the crowd support, they had tried to incriminate Jesus with contentious issues, or discredit him with theological arguments, but they failed in all these attempts. So, the only option left was to capture Jesus in a secretive way. They just needed an opportunity to arrest Jesus away from the crowd, do a quick and private trial, and Jesus would be gone before his supporters could react in an organized manner.

This was essentially Judas’ role. As one of the 12 apostles, he was close enough to Jesus to know his daily itinerary, and he would be able to lead the soldiers to capture Jesus at the best possible timing (Luke 21:37-38). He could also identify Jesus correctly in dark and secluded locations and ensure that there were minimal repercussions in the stealth operation. The last thing you want is to kill the wrong guy, or let him escape, and you end up with a PR disaster. So if the operation involves a situation where you want to go somewhere as quietly as possible, get the guy you want, and get out just as smoothly, you definitely need an insider. And Judas was that key person to make this happen. Note that Luke did not spell out Judas’ motives for his betrayal, so I would prefer not to speculate anything at this point. Some say he did it for the money, others say he did it out of disappointment in Jesus, but I guess we will never know for sure.

But the forces at work here involve more than just Judas and the Jewish leaders, there was also a spiritual element involved. Since this is a story retold every year during Lent, I want to focus on an aspect unique to Luke in verse 3 “Then Satan entered Judas” (also in John 13:27). The involvement of Satan was not found in Matthew and Mark, so this angle must have been significant enough for it to be highlighted by Luke. I have done the research and found that Satan indeed played a significant role in Luke’s Gospel. So today, I will share about Luke’s presentation of Satan in detail. Luke used Satan and Devil interchangeably, so you can think of Satan and Devil as similar titles to describe the same being; Satan with a Hebrew origin (in Job 1,2 and Zechariah 3) and Devil with a Greek origin. Note that I’m just focusing on Luke’s perspective, since Satan could be portrayed differently in other parts of the Bible, and I’ve decided against combining all the different perspectives as it might end up more confusing than enlightening.

Firstly, Satan was portrayed in Luke as a spiritual being with power and a kingdom. Peter described Jesus’ ministry in this way in Acts 10: 37 You know …38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. When Jesus began his ministry, he defeated Satan/Devil’s power and authority. Through exorcisms, he attacked and overpowered Satan, and cast out his minion demons from those who were possessed. (Luke 11:18-22) Even the disciples he sent out could do the same when the authority was given to them. Luke 10: 17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” 18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

Besides exorcisms, Jesus also defeated Satan when he healed those who were sick because of Satan’s bondage. There is a story in Luke 13: 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When the synagogue leader was indignant when Jesus healed her, 15 The Lord answered him, “16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” Jesus’ healing was a form of liberation for the sick woman. Similarly, Paul who was sent by Jesus could also do the same liberation of people from the power of Satan to God (Acts 26:18). Note that even though Luke described Satan as one with power and a kingdom, he also showed repeatedly that Satan was defeated by Jesus and those sent by him.

Secondly, Satan was portrayed in Luke with a role to misguide people from their faith. This role was described by Paul in his encounter with Elymas the sorcerer in Acts 13: 10 “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? The sorcerer was not really Satan possessed or literally his child, but the accusation helps us to understand what it means to be devil-like: deceitful and fighting against God’s goodness. The methods that Satan/Devil use to perform this role of deception in leading people to oppose God depends on the situation. What is important to note is that it can be any moment since he is always waiting to strike. In January, I shared about this in the temptations of Jesus in Luke 4:1-13. [2] The devil challenged Jesus’ identity and his relationship with God after his baptism where his identity as the Son of God was confirmed. The devil challenged Jesus in those ways because that was how Israel was challenged in the wilderness as the Son of God (Hosea 11:1).

Such misguidance from Satan can happen in every stage of faith from pre-believers to faithful believers. Jesus described those who rejected the gospel in Luke 8: 12 (as) the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. These were not pre-believers who were honest seekers but those who struggled with believing. They described people like the Pharisees who heard from Jesus, saw the signs, and yet hardened their hearts against Jesus. As for believers, they could be tempted by greed, like in Ananias in Acts 5: 3 how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? For others, Satan’s role came in the form of persecution and suffering, such as Simon Peter’s denial of Jesus in Luke 22: 31 Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. These are just examples from Luke-Acts, and I’m sure there are more forms of temptations depending on your personal weaknesses or certain times in your lives when you are especially vulnerable.

After surveying Luke’s portrayal of Satan/Devil, I think we can learn a few things.
One, Satan cannot be avoided. The Bible does not teach why Satan has power and a sphere of influence, and I think that even though there are stories of fallen angels [3], the purpose of these stories is not for us to craft a back story for Satan. Satan’s power is simply stated matter-of-factly as part and parcel of human suffering. I can sympathize with Christians who are troubled with God’s indirect permission [4] for Satan to do evil. [5] But I doubt there can ever be an answer that can satisfy the question “Why didn’t God stop this evil? Or why did God allow Satan to do that?” Instead, my conclusion from years of struggle with such questions is to accept that God’s choice is not for us to avoid Satan but to overcome him. That brings me to my second point.

Point two, Satan cannot be avoided but he was defeated and can be defeated. I wish to examine this point more specifically regarding Judas’ betrayal. Some might think that his betrayal was pre-determined since he was under the influence of Satan. But there are a few factors against such a conclusion.
The biggest key factor for me, is that Jesus put the blame on the betrayer himself when he said, “Woe to the man who betrays him” (Luke 22:22, see also Matthew 26:24; Mark 14:21). If Judas’ betrayal was beyond his control, then it would not be right to put the blame on him.
Similarly, after Jesus’ arrest, Judas showed remorse for his actions, showing that he was fully aware and felt responsible for what he had done. (Acts 1:18; Matthew 27:3-5)
Therefore, even though the phrase “Satan entered Judas” is very graphic, it is not a form of demonic possession where Judas acted beyond his own control. Instead, I believe the meaning of the description is closer to a Pauline expression in Ephesians 4:27 where the devil was given “a foothold” due to Judas’ personal desires, whether it was greed for money or anger against Jesus.

Since Judas was the one who listened to the prompting of the devil (John 13:2) and allowed his entrance to consume him, it meant that Judas should also have the free will to reject the temptations of Satan, just like Jesus when Satan tempted him. Such rejection of Satan would be consistent with all the other instances which described Satan being defeated whether through exorcism or healing of those in Satan’s bondage. And even if you are initially tempted, there is always a chance for recovery, like what Jesus said to Peter in Luke 22: 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Lastly, if Satan cannot be avoided but can be defeated, how should we defeat him? Obviously, we can only do it with the authority of Jesus Christ. Our strength and faith come from our close relationship with Jesus. The Holy Spirit is also the spirit of Jesus Christ, and it is the prompting of the Holy Spirit that helps us against the promptings of the devil. My advice on our role in this spiritual struggle is to be a good soil for the Word of God: Jesus. Luke 8: 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

I wish to connect the words here about our hearts, the retention of the word, and perseverance with Pastor WeiKang’s sermon from last week. [6] As Jesus said in Luke 21:34-36, we need to “be on the watch and pray”. A close and intimate relationship with God doesn’t guarantee Satan will not attack, but it means that we would be ready for the fight. Jesus also emphasized the importance of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Luke 22:46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” The fruit of the Spirit which includes faithfulness and self-control are developed through daily nurturing and matured with time. I pray that our faith will all withstand the test of time, and eventually we may all fight the good fight, and finish the race well.

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Week
[2]http://www.jubilee.org.sg/sermons/?sermon_id=1068
[3]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallen_angel#Christianity
[4]https://www.thoughtstheological.com/olsons-no-to-divine-determinism/
[5] https://calvinandcalvinism.wordpress.com/2008/04/13/john-calvin-on-god%E2%80%99s-willing-permission-of-sin-a-selection-of-relevant-comments/
[6]http://www.jubilee.org.sg/sermons/?sermon_id=1081

Luke 22:1–6 (Listen)

22:1 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people.

Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.

(ESV)