“The devil … put it into the heart of Judas … to betray Him.” John 13:2 NKJV
While some Bible versions say Satan “prompted” or “enticed” Judas, I think the King James Version is the most accurate: Satan “put it into the heart of Judas,” and instead of rejecting the idea, Judas followed through with it.
In his very practical letter, James wrote, “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (Jas. 1:13-15).
For temptation to have any power, it must connect with a sinful desire that is already in the person’s heart. Martin Luther once said, “You can’t stop a bird from landing on your head, but you can stop it from nesting in your hair.” When we entertain the idea of sin in our hearts, we give the devil an opening to lead us into sin, and even death. When the Bible says that “Satan entered into Judas” (Jn. 13:27; Lk. 22:3) it was because Judas had already courted the sinful thoughts that became Satan’s nesting place.
So why did Judas betray Jesus? Commentators suggest such reasons as disillusionment, jealousy and disappointment. But only one reason is clearly stated in Scripture: “He was a thief, and had the money box, and he used to take what was put in it” (Jn. 12:6). Paul could have had Judas in mind when he warned that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim. 6:10).
Lately, the world’s economic mess has shown us what we should learn from Judas: When the bird called greed is allowed to build a nest in our hair, sorrow and ruin will surely follow and maybe even death.
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org