Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near. 2The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people. 3Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; 4he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. 5They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. 6So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present.
The climax of the story is near – Luke begins this segment with a summary. After all the conflict and challenges of the previous chapters, the chief priests and scribes are done with trying to trick Jesus into alienating Rome or the people, and are looking for a way to arrest him and put him to death. But they are afraid of the people. When and how can they get to him when the crowd is not around? They need an ally, a spy, a traitor.
Satan had left off tempting Jesus in the wilderness, waiting for a more opportune time. Now, Satan enters into Judas. But this is not an instance of demonic possession over which Judas has no control! Judas allowed Satan, or evil, into his own heart. Judas was a trusted Apostle, one of the chosen twelve. He had been selected after a night of prayer, taught along with all the others, sent out on missions with them, followed Jesus for three years. What happened? Was he disillusioned, angry, greedy, or was he trying to force Jesus to fight, to call down angels from heaven? We just do not know – none of the gospels really give us Judas’ reasoning.
Notice, Judas finds the chief priests, they do not come to him; he goes to them and asks what they will give him to betray Jesus. When the mighty fall, they fall hard! The chief priests, of course, are delighted at Judas’ offer, and agree to give him money – Luke, here, doesn’t say it was 30 pieces of silver, but that is what is said elsewhere. What is the price of a life? What is the price of salvation? Would we sell out a friend for 30 pieces of silver? or for a million dollars? or for a position or power? or to run from a burning building with a few rolls of toilet paper? What is the price of a life? It all depends on what you value – do you value the other person? Do you value love? Or, do you value hate, getting even, punishing, power, and material treasures? Which God do we follow? Jesus’ way was the way of peace and love, and he would die for it. Would we?
The pieces are coming together, the climax of Luke’s story is approaching.