If that sounds incredible, just think of the scandalous behavior of so-called Christian leaders today who use ministry gifts to buy $40,000 worth of clothes at one store in a year, and send their kids on a $30,000 trip to the Bahamas, and drive a white Lexus and a red Mercedes. As Judas sat beside Jesus with his pious, religious face and went out and cast out demons in Jesus' name, he was not a righteous lover of Jesus. He loved money. He loved the power and pleasures that money could buy. 

Paul tells us how that works together with Satan's power. Listen to Ephesians 2:1-3: "You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air [notice the connection: dead in sins, following Satan], the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind." Dead in our sins, walking in the passions of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of body and mind, and therefore following the prince of the power of the air.

Satan does not take innocent people captive. There are no innocent people. Satan has power where sinful passions hold sway. Judas was a lover of money, and he covered it with a phony, external relationship with Jesus. And then he sold him for thirty pieces of silver. How many of his ilk are still around today! Don't be one. And don't be duped by one.

Satan's Role in His Own Destruction
The second question is why Satan would lead Judas to betray Jesus. Didn't he know that the death and resurrection of Jesus would result in his final defeat (Col. 2:13-15; Rev. 12:11)? There is good reason to think Satan knew that.

When Jesus began his ministry on the way to the cross, Satan tried to turn him away from the path of suffering and sacrifice. In the wilderness, he tempted him to turn stones into bread and jump off the temple and get the rulership of the world by worshiping him (Matt. 4:1-11). The point of all these temptations is: "Don't walk the path of suffering and sacrifice and death. Use your power to escape suffering. If you're the Son of God, show your right to reign. And I can help you do it. Whatever you do, don't go to the cross."

And remember the time when Jesus predicted he would suffer many things from the elders and the chief priests and be killed, and Peter rebuked him and said, "Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you" (Matt. 16:22). In other words, I will never let you be killed like that.

Jesus did not commend Peter. He said, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man" (Matt. 16:23). Hindering Jesus from going to the cross was the work of Satan. Satan did not want Jesus crucified. It would be his undoing.

But here he is in Luke 22:3 entering into Judas and leading him to betray the Lord and bring him to the cross. Why the about-face? Why try to divert him from the cross and then take the initiative to bring him to the cross? We are not told. Here is my effort at an answer.

Satan saw that his efforts to divert Jesus from the cross had failed. Time after time Jesus kept the course. His face was set like flint to die (Luke 9:51, 53), and Satan concluded that there was no stopping him. Therefore, he resolved that if he couldn't stop it, he would at least make it as ugly and painful and as heartbreaking as possible. Not just death, but death by betrayal. Death by abandonment. Death by denial (Luke 22:31-34). Death by torture. If he could not stop it, he would drag others into it and do as much damage as he could. It was a spectacular sequence of sins that brought Jesus to the cross.

God's Role in the Murder of His Son
Which brings us now to the third and final question—the most important one: Where was God when this happened? Or more precisely: What was God's role or non-role in the most spectacular sin that ever happened—the murder of Jesus Christ?