A Case of Mistaken Identity?

March 22, 2021

1 The Festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called Passover, was approaching. 2 The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put him to death, because they were afraid of the people. 3 Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, who was numbered among the Twelve. 4 He went away and discussed with the chief priests and temple police how he could hand him over to them. 5 They were glad and agreed to give him silver. 6 So he accepted the offer and started looking for a good opportunity to betray him to them when the crowd was not present.

Luke 22:1-6

Written by Andy Engberg from the Brentwood Campus

Judas will forever be remembered as the scandalous disciple who sold Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver. Even though Jesus knew what was happening with Judas, He did not push him away or shun him. Furthermore, Judas was not the only disciple to abandon Jesus—they all did. Whatever Judas may have thought he was doing, at some point the gravity of the situation hit him. But by then it was too late. In one of the more tragic stories from scripture, Judas’ life ended in despair.

While Israel was preparing for the Passover, their religious leaders were initiating a string of events that would lead to a new Passover Lamb being slain for the sins of the world. There was a rift between the religious leaders and the populace, and the religious leaders blamed Jesus for this rift. This opened the door for the evil one to go to work. But Satan did not enter the religious leaders; he entered Judas.

I do not think we can surmise the intentions of Judas’ heart when he betrayed Jesus. What I do know is that Judas’ desires were an open doorway for the manipulations of the evil one. Back in the wilderness, Satan had already tried and failed to tempt Jesus into betraying His divine identity. So, he presumably moved on to plan B. What the evil one failed to realize was that by sending Jesus to the cross, he was executing God’s plan and not his own. Checkmate!

Luke 4:13 says, “After the Devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him for a time.” When the enemy saw the opportunity, he seized the moment—or so he thought. The Jewish leaders were engaging in underhanded, back-room, political maneuvering. They were prepared to silence Jesus, even if it meant killing Him. They did not understand who Jesus was. They believed they could finally silence the man who drew people from all around the region. Crowds of people followed Jesus, not only to see signs and wonders, but also to hear Him teach. A reasonable conclusion would be that the religious leaders were jealous. Their jealousy turned to rage and resulted in the arrest and murder of an innocent man. This event was more than a human miscarriage of justice. It was the proverbial big picture of the struggle between good and evil, God and Satan.

What we do as Christians has as great an impact outside the church as it does inside. The tragic story of Judas’ betrayal and how it sent Jesus to the cross taps into my sense of justice. It seems all wrong. Why should this innocent man be given over to a cruel, grisly death? In a tortuous turn of events, Jesus was betrayed by one of His own disciples. But by the grace of God, this was not the end of Jesus’ story. Instead, it was a glorious new beginning.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. While we don’t know why Judas did what he did, it seems to me he did not see Jesus clearly. He did not understand who Jesus was. It seems like a case of mistaken identity. Do you know who Jesus is?
  2. Jesus never stopped loving Judas. Even though He knew what Judas was going to do, Jesus still gave him a seat at the table. If Jesus could still love Judas, He can love sinners like you and me. No one is unlovable. Are there people in your life who are hard to love? Love them anyway, even when it does not make sense.
  3. Jesus experienced injustice and betrayal. He was arrested and tried unfairly. Yet He never lost sight of His identity as the Messiah, the Son of God. Nor did He lose sight of His purpose as the Savior of all of humanity. God has a purpose for all of us. Do you know what your God-given purpose is?

Missions Prayer
Check out this map of regions of the world, and the unreached people who live there. A people group is a people distinct in language, culture, and geography. Some people groups contain a few thousand people, and others contain millions. Choose a region to pray for today.