As you read today’s passage, think about how Judas was used as a pawn:
John 13 (Common English Bible)
21 After he said these things, Jesus was deeply disturbed and testified, “I assure you, one of you will betray me.” 22 His disciples looked at each other, confused about which of them he was talking about. 23 One of the disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was at Jesus’ side. 24 Simon Peter nodded at him to get him to ask Jesus who he was talking about.25 Leaning back toward Jesus, this disciple asked, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It’s the one to whom I will give this piece of bread once I have dipped into the bowl.” Then he dipped the piece of bread and gave it to Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son. 27 After Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 No one sitting at the table understood why Jesus said this to him.29 Some thought that, since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus told him, “Go, buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So when Judas took the bread, he left immediately. And it was night.
The Scripture makes what happened that night in the upper room very clear. Satan entered Judas. It was a demonic possession. This was done to fulfill all of the prophecies about the Messiah that foretold that Jesus would suffer and die so that everyone might be raised up with him into eternal life.
But it still makes us wonder how Judas could have done such a terrible thing to his close friend. Did Judas see that things were going against Jesus, and turned “state’s evidence” against him to save his own skin? Was he just terribly disillusioned with Jesus because Jesus hadn’t taken over Israel in a military coup, as messiahs were thought to do? Did he think that forcing an arrest would spur Jesus into action? Or was he just a terrible person? We will never know the answer. All we know is that Judas got up from the warmth and light of a cozy, intimate supper with his closest friends and walked out into the night.
But who used who? Certainly, God’s purpose and plan was met by what Judas did. God had the ultimate authority over Satan’s futile attempt to derail and undermine the power of Jesus. Jesus’ power only grew stronger through the crucifixion and resurrection. In this way, Judas was only a pawn … not of Satan, but of God.
Understanding God’s power in this moment of deep betrayal is a great comfort. We know that even then, God was in control. This is a great reminder to us when we face hardships, obstacles, tragedies, and heartache. Even when it appears that evil is winning, God is still God.
If you are dealing with a situation that has gotten completely out of your control, take heart. God is your mighty and powerful ally and he walks beside you every step of the way. Thanks be to God!