Harmony of the Gospels

Tom Lowe




Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11, LUKE 22:3-6 (ZECHARIAH 11:12)


Judas Iscariot[1], whom Jesus called “the son of perdition,” lived up to his name by agreeing to hand over Jesus to the religious leaders for a rather insignificant amount of money. How did he get the courage for this evil act? The Bible has the answer.

Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. (Luke 22:3)

Satan entered  Judas, surnamed Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples. In John 13:27[2], this action is said to have taken place after Jesus had handed him the piece of bread during the Passover meal.  When the Lord made it clear that he was not going to claim the throne of Israel but that he expected to die, Judas was disappointed, and resolved to save himself, if possible.  His attitude gave Satan an opening to possess and control him.

The fact that Satan entered Judas does not necessarily mean he’s now a demoniac, unable to control his actions. Rather, Judas has opened the door to Satan by failing to resist his temptation. No doubt his thievery ([3]John 12:6) opened the door for this. Regarding balancing the human role and the divine role behind the betrayal, Nolland notes, “Keeping in mind the wider Lukan narrative, one must not forget that this delivering up of Jesus, though a betrayal, at the same time fulfills the divine intention ([4]Acts 2:23) and is fully anticipated by Jesus Himself ([5]Luke 9:44; 22:21–22).”

When Satan entered Judas it was in stages.  The awful stages of it were these:
1. Covetousness was his master–passion; the Lord let it reveal itself and gather strength by entrusting him with “the bag” (3John 12:6), as treasurer for himself and the twelve.
2. In carrying out that most sacred trust he became “a thief,” taking its contents from time to time for his own use.  Satan seeing this door into his heart standing wide open, determines to enter by it, but cautiously ([6]2 Corinthians 2:11); first merrily “putting it into his heart betray him” ([7]John 13:2), suggesting the thought to him that by this means he might enrich himself.
3. This thought was probably converted into a settled plan by what took place in Simon’s house at Bethany.
4. The actual act of betrayal was held back for some time; the determination to carry it into immediate effect was not there until, setting at the Passover supper, “Satan entered into him”.

None of this removes responsibility from Judas, who made his own choices and performed his own acts.
We are reminded that Judas was of the number of the twelve. That may cause one to wonder why Christ, who knew all men, would take a traitor into that number, and why he would betray the Lord Jesus, since after living with Him for three years he must have known Him well. It was the devil’s work! He thought he could use Judas to ruin Christ’s mission, and break his head, but, in the end, all he did was bruise his heel. Judas knew how bad the chief priests wanted to get Christ into their hands, and that they could not do it safely without the assistance of someone that knew his routine, as he did.

Judas was energized and possessed by Satan when he made his agreement with the religious leaders.
Satan is a liar and murderer ([8]John 8:44), and he helped Judas with his deception. But Satan deceived Judas as well, and the former disciple ended up committing suicide. It is dangerous to make deals with the devil.

And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests[9] and captains, how he might betray him unto them. (Luke 22:4)

And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them. (Mark 14:10)

Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. (Matthew 26:14-15)

Immediately after an instance of the greatness kindness ever done to Christ, there follows an instance of the greatest unkindness. There is a mixture of both good and bad among the followers of Christ. He has some faithful friends, and some false and pretend ones. What could be more sordid than this agreement which Judas made with the chief priests, to betray Christ to them for thirty pieces of silver? Here is the offer which he made to the chief  priests; he went to them, and said, “What will ye give me?” (v. 15). They did not send for him, nor make the proposal to him; they could not have thought that one of Christ’s own disciples would be willing to betray him. Note, there are those, even among Christ’s followers, that are worse than any one can imagine them to be.

The only thing that made Judas betray his Master was money. His Master had not given him any provocation, though he knew from the first that he had a devil. He showed the same kindness to him that he did to the rest. He had placed him in a post that pleased him, had made him purse-bearer, and though he had embezzled money from the bag (for he is called a thief, 3Jn. 12:6), yet we do not find he was in any danger of being called to account for it; nor does it appear that he had any suspicion that the gospel was a cheat: no, it was not the hatred of his Master, nor any quarrel with him, but purely the love of money; that, and nothing else, made Judas a traitor.  Covetousness[10] was Judas’s master-lust, and that brought him to the sin of betraying his Master; the devil used the temptation of easy money to do that, and with it conquered him. It does not say they promised him a promotion to a position in the synagogue (he was not ambitious of that), but, they promised him money.

Perhaps it was Judas’s covetousness that first brought him to follow Christ It is possible that he had a promise that he could be the cash-keeper for the disciples, and so he joined them because he loved fingering money. And now that there was money to be got on the other side, he was as ready to betray him as he ever was to follow him.

And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude. (Luke 22:5-6)

And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him. (Mark 14:11)

And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him. (Matthew 26:16)

The priests paid him on the spot—the contemptible total of about fifteen dollars. Though he had lived with the Lord Jesus for at least a year, and had received nothing but kindness from Him, Judas now sneaked off to the chief priests with a guarantee to betray the Son of God into their hands, without causing a riot. All he had to do now was work out the details. So Judas left to work out the details of his treacherous scheme. Probably, he slyly enquired of Peter and John, who were more intimate with their Master than he was, where he would be at such a time, and if he would go there after the Passover, and they were not sharp enough to suspect him. Somehow or other, in a little time he gained the information he sought, and set the time and place where it might be done, in the absence of the multitude, and without creating an uproar.

It is remarkable to note the contrast between the woman who anointed Jesus at Simon’s home and Judas. She valued the Savior highly. Judas valued Him lightly.


[1] JUDAS ISCARIOT [JOO duhs iss KAR ih uht] — the disciple who betrayed Jesus. Judas was the son of Simon (John 6:71), or of Simon Iscariot (NRSV). The term Iscariot, which is used to distinguish Judas from the other disciple named Judas (Luke 6:16; John 14:22; Acts 1:13), refers to his hometown of Kerioth, in southern Judah (Josh. 15:25). Thus, Judas was a Judean, the only one of the Twelve who was not from Galilee.
The details of Judas’ life are sketchy. Because of his betrayal of Jesus, Judas, however, is even more of a mystery.

[2](John 13:27) And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.

[3](John 12:6) This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

[4](Acts 2:23) Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 

[5](Luke 9:44) Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.

[6](2 Cor 2:11) Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. 

[7] (John 13:2) And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him;

[8](John 8:44) Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

[9]Priests were also a professional class (Mark 11:18; 14:10). Priests had official duties in the temple. The high priest was also head of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. There were ten other sanhedrins in different locales. Under Roman rule, the high priest was appointed by the Roman governor.

[10]COVETOUSNESS — an intense desire to possess something (or someone) that belongs to another person. The Ten Commandments prohibit this attitude (Ex. 20:17; Deut. 5:21). Covetousness springs from a greedy self-centeredness and an arrogant disregard of God’s law. The Bible repeatedly warns against this sin (Josh. 7:21; Rom. 7:7; 2 Pet. 2:10).

Many examples of covetousness appear in the Bible: Gehazi’s greed (2 Kin. 5:20–27), Judas’ betrayal of Jesus (Matt. 26:14–15), the rich fool (Luke 12:13–21), the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18–25), and the deceit of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1–11). The apostle Paul labeled this sin as idolatry (Col. 3:5). He warned believers not to associate with a covetous brother (1 Cor. 5:10–11).

The best way to avoid a self-centered, covetous attitude is to trust the Lord and to face one’s responsibilities (Gal. 6:7–9; 2 Thess. 3:6–15). To those tempted by “covetousness” and “worthless things” (Ps. 119:36), Jesus declares, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15).

Do you have any questions or comments?

Lazaro Orpusongu walked three days from his village in Tanzania to meet Tim and Annie Tidenberg. The couple were newly appointed missionaries with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. Lazaro greeted the new missionaries with these words: “We are so glad you are here, because we are a hungry people.” Tim assumed the man was looking for food so he told him their primary purpose in Longido was to train pastors, not to provide food. This headman of a Maasai settlement replied, “Oh, you misunderstand me. I am not asking for food. I am asking for the Bread of Life. We are hungry for God’s Word.” May such hunger define our level of commitment to ongoing discipleship.

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