1 Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.2 And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might put him to death; for they feared the people.
3 And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.4 And he went away, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might deliver him unto them.5 And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money.6 And he consented, and sought opportunity to deliver him unto them in the absence of the multitude.
The statement that |the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover,| forms a fitting preface to the story of the passion, for the Hebrew feast commemorated the deliverance of Israel when the angel of death passed over the homes which were marked with blood, and now a greater redemption was to be purchased by the blood of Christ, and those who would accept his salvation were to put away sin from their lives, even as leaven was excluded from Hebrew homes during all the days of the feast.
The rulers of the Jews had already determined upon the death of Jesus. Their problem lay in his immense popularity. They were determining to delay until after the feast, when the great crowds would have left the city, when suddenly help came to them from a most unexpected quarter. Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve immediate followers of Jesus, offered to betray his Master into the hands of the rulers at such a time and place as they desired, namely, |in the absence of the multitude.| Of course the chief priests and the officers of the Temple guard |were glad| and contracted to pay the money demanded by the traitor for his treachery. Luke states that Judas acted under the direction of Satan. We are not to conclude, however, that he was a demoniac or that he lacked control of his faculties. His act was deliberate, unsolicited, and without excuse. The explanation is that he long had been cherishing his lust for gold. He had listened to the suggestion of Satan and now he yielded himself to his foul service. The alarming truth is that the treachery of Judas was not the act of a unique monster, but only an example of what, finally, may be done by any man who, in daily fellowship with Jesus, does not renounce his one besetting sin. To resist continually the gracious influence of the Saviour is to fall the more rapidly under the complete power of Satan.