Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
For much of Jesus’ ministry He downplayed who He was and though He revealed to His team some details about His plans, no one had any real clue how He was going to do it. In order to successfully perform His mission for the Father: rescuing mankind from the ravages of sin and the devil, He had to give Himself as a human sacrifice. It had to happen in the right way, by the right people and exactly the right time and in the right place.
Think about the enormity of that task. How do you influence people in just the right way so it happens just as you want? What we see in the first part of Luke 22 is that Jesus is now setting into motion the final portions of His plan. To do so He uses the motivations of both humans (Judas and the religious leaders) and of supernatural beings (Satan) to actually do His bidding.
To understand the significance of this festival, and what Jesus is about to do, we need to travel back in time in the history of the nation of Israel. God had called a pagan guy by the name of Abram who lived in Ur of the Chaldeans (today’s southern Iraq). He told him to get up and go south to the land of Canaan (Genesis 11:31). This was the first act of obedience by Abram – the first of many. God would eventually rename this man Abraham and tell him that through his descendants God would bring tremendous blessing on the earth (Genesis 15 & 17). Abraham’s grandson Jacob took his family and left Canaan for Egypt because of a severe famine. Though initially welcomed, the king of that land eventually enslaved the people.
They cried out to God for rescue and God sent them Moses who performed miracles and caused a set of plagues to inflict the people of Egypt in order to get them to release the Israelites. None of the plagues worked (as God knew they wouldn’t) so He brought about one last plague—where the firstborn of every human and animal family would die on a particular night. To protect the Israelites, God called for them to 1) pick a perfect lamb to kill, roast, and eat in a special ceremony. They were to put the blood of that lamb on the lintel (the upper cross beam of the door) and the doorposts (the side posts of the door). (That blood would then drip down to the base of the door forming the end points of a cross by the way). Then 2) they were to remove any leaven (that days’ yeast) from their homes and not have it present there for an entire week. We find this in Exodus 12:1-20. If the blood was present then the angel of death would “pass over” their homes, thus protecting them.
We’ll get to the significance of the blood and the lamb next time, but the idea of removing leaven is symbolic of sin. So the whole idea here is to deal with sin (not think, speaking, or acting like God) and escape the result of sin (death).
The Feast of Unleavened Bread began the yearly celebration of God passing over the Israelite homes and freeing them from slavery to Egypt. The Jews were to return to Jerusalem each year for this feast which is about to take on its real meaning: not just a celebration of a past event for one nation but the realization of an act of mercy for the entire world.
It also created an opportunity for the enemies of Jesus.
We’ve seen this attitude by the religious leaders before. Ever since Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 12:10) and openly defied their authority by throwing out the moneychangers from the Temple (Luke 19:46), they have wanted to kill Him. He was a threat to their power, and they feared the people would start an insurrection after giving Jesus Messianic status as He entered Jerusalem. Such a revolt would bring down Rome hard on them. Maintaining an uneasy peace kept them in power. But if they arrested Him in a public place they might start the very insurrection they feared. They’d tried publically humiliating Him and trapping Him by tough Scriptural and political dilemmas. When nothing worked they figured they needed a subtler way – a more private way. They needed an inside man. What they desired, Satan delivered.
3 – 6
In John 13:2 we discover that Judas Iscariot had already decided to betray Jesus. This idea had been implanted in his mind by Satan. Here in Luke’s gospel the idea was not only inspired by Satan but empowered by him as well. The Greek roots for “entered” in verse 3 are “come” and “into”. I think Luke could be telling us that Lucifer actually possessed Judas—but it took a willing mind. Satan merely gave Judas what he already wanted. He’d determined that he was an enemy of Jesus and now Satan gave him power to act on it.
The Devil already knew, through his intelligence gathering and working behind the scenes to inspire the murder of Jesus, that the religious leaders only needed actionable intelligence. Judas became a pawn in his scheme to inspire the leaders’ scheme to get rid of this usurper Jesus.
So Judas sneaks away for a clandestine meeting. Matthew 26:15 tells us that Judas actually asked for money: “What are you willing to give me,” he asked. The bargain was 30 pieces of silver. Zechariah 11:11-13 prophecies this event. The sum is significant. Exodus 21:32 sets the value of a slave at this amount (if an ox gores and kills a slave the owner must pay 30 pieces of silver). There is actually a lot of prophetical significance to what is taking place here. Check out this article for more information. It wasn’t much money, but Jesus called Himself a slave (Matthew 20:28) and would be a “ransom” for many. That 30 pieces of silver sold Jesus into the hands of the religious leaders and Satan, but the ransom price for our freedom was nothing less than His life.
Now at this point it seems as if events are spiraling out of control for Jesus. He’s about to fall into a trap. But keep in mind the master chess player who knows all the moves, even of His arch-enemy the Devil.
I want to pause here to discuss two things.
- 1.Satan is more powerful than you, way smarter than you, and has many more resources than we often give him credit for.
As I mentioned last time, Paul the Apostle talks about Satan’s “devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11) and that we should not be “ignorant” of them. Satan is very old, very smart, and has a vast network and a long history of how to get humans to do what he wants (which is to trust ourselves and not Jesus).
How do his “devices” work? Satan can force things to happen. He can possess non-Christians and make them do things against their will. We see this demonstrated in the man possessed with the Legion of demons (Luke 8:30) and with the boy in Matthew 17:15 who was thrown into the fire by a demon. But this is very rare.
I think the most common device of the enemy comes from leveraging our own natural desires and the effects of the sin nature to make us think we are acting in our own self-interest, when in fact we are acting in his self-interest.
So how does this work? In the Garden of Eden, Lucifer in the form of a serpent introduced the idea to Eve that we should 1) distrust what God says and 2) trust in our sense of what is best for us more than God’s authority over our lives. This works out for the enemy’s “devices” in at least two ways:
- Our view of what’s right is altered by the sin nature so we are easily manipulated.
1 John 2:16 (HCSB) For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world.
So our God-given needs satisfied in ungodly ways (lust of the flesh), our own blurred sense of what’s real and what’s right (lust of the eyes) and our tendency to operate only in our own self-interest (pride in one’s lifestyle) make us ripe for manipulation. Many times Satan has to do nothing more than let sin take its course.
- What we naturally want is empowered by the influence of the enemy directly or indirectly.
I think it is entirely possible that Satan can whisper in your ear – actually implant thoughts. I’m not dogmatic on this but it makes some sense to me when I read Acts 5:3, for instance, where Peter asked Ananias why “Satan has filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit.” Ananias was a believer, yet he was influenced to do something very bad directly by Satan. Others who are listening to their flesh or to the enemy can also be used to influence you. Much church gossip and church division comes out of this.
But lest we despair, we need to understand an even greater truth:
- 2.God is more powerful than Satan. Way more powerful.
There is a concept in the Scriptures that we see over and over: evil judging evil. We see it in 1 Kings 22 where the prophet Micaiah revealed a scene where demons were given permission by the Lord to be a lying spirit in the mouths of the prophets so that he could judge an evil king Ahab. We see it also in Judges 7:1 when Gideon and his massive army of 300 men came against the Midianites. Judges 7:22 (ESV) “When they blew the 300 trumpets, the LORD set every man’s sword against his comrade and against all the army.”
Who was in control here? It wasn’t the demons, it wasn’t the Midianites, and it wasn’t Ahab—it was God. And here in Luke, despite the machinations of the enemy, using and influencing evil men to do his desire—God is in total control. In 1 Kings it is God who gives permission for the demon to become a lying spirit. In Job it is God who gives Satan permission to ruin Job’s life. But ultimately God’s plan comes about.
God will leverage the leveragers. He’ll get them in the end to do exactly what He wants and judge their evil in the process. And He’ll do it for you as well. To illustrate this, let me share two verses with you:
Isaiah 54:17 (HCSB) No weapon formed against you will succeed, and you will refute any accusation raised against you in court. This is the heritage of the LORD’s servants, and their righteousness is from Me.” This is the LORD’s declaration.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (HCSB) No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.
So two things for us (at least): 1. You will fail and Satan will accuse you but his weaponry and his accusations are useless in the face of the cross of Jesus. 2. When temptation comes look for the way out. The Greek words means “to go out” or “exit”. It’s like taking an exit on the freeway so you go no further on that road. That exit could be literally stopping yourself in your tracks, it could be phoning a friend, it could be focusing on worshiping the Lord or in His Word—filling your mind with Him rather than the temptation. Sometimes it’s just the mindfulness that you are being tempted that is enough to break free of it.
So what’s the alternative:
James 4:7 (HCSB) Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.
Put yourself under God’s authority and stand in opposition to the Devil’s attempt at taking authority. Practice it. Perfect it. Use it.