Luke 22 – Peter, Judas, and the Devil’s Dark Gutter

Luke 22 Bible with Green and Blacks Organic Milk Chocolate with Almonds

Today’s Chocolate: Green & Black’s Organic Milk Chocolate with Almonds

Today’s PassageLuke 22

The events of the Last Supper do not reflect especially well on Judas or Peter. In their own way, both men stab the Savior in the back. Peter denies three times that he even knows the man that he left his nets to follow, the man he called “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). And Judas…betrayed him for a hot buck and led an armed crowd to accost him in the dead of night. Yes, sin is sin, but I think pretending not to know a person constitutes a lesser offense than giving them over to their enemies and making oneself complicit in their death. Perhaps this is why Luke opts not to mention Judas for the rest of his gospel, though he later spells out Judas’ earthly fate in the first chapter of Acts. But I speculate. Let’s look at Peter and Judas here.

Luke doesn’t bother trying to hide that these events are coming. He’s already identified Judas as the one “who would hand Jesus over to be killed” (Luke 6:16), and over the Last Supper, Jesus predicts, “But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table” (Luke 22:21). Hindsight may be 20/20, and Luke has the benefit of countless witnesses’ hindsight in compiling his gospel, but Jesus possesses actual foresight. Just as he predicted Judas’ betrayal, he calls Peter’s denial, saying, “The rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me” (Luke 22:34). Luke’s not concerned with spoilers.

Judas and Peter have something else in common: Satan’s involved in each man’s life on this night. As the Passover approaches, Luke notes, “Satan entered into Judas” (Luke 22:3). What does that entail? What does it mean to have the leader of Heaven’s worst rebellion make a place for himself inside your life, inside your you? Whatever it means, it apparently doesn’t preclude repentance, or at least remorse. After he does the deed, Matthew notes that Judas “felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders” (Matthew 27:3). To this day, I can’t say for sure what Judas’ eternal fate will be. One thing’s for sure, though: when Satan enters into you, it’s bad news, and you might just end up complicit in the most unjust killing the world has ever known, if you’re Judas.

Satan doesn’t enter into Peter, but on the night before the crucifixion, he’s still looking to have his way with him. At the Last Supper, Jesus says to him, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:31-32). Again, there’s some ambiguity. Is Satan granted or denied his request? Does he get to give Peter a sifting, or does God restrain him? Whether Satan had a direct hand in it, two things are for sure: Satan doesn’t actually get inside Peter as he did with Judas, and just as predicted, Peter still denies Jesus three times before the rooster crows.

What was that like? What was going through Peter’s mind as he found himself speaking those three denials? Maybe he’d simply forgotten Jesus’ prediction, but maybe to his own horror he found the words coming out of his mouth that just hours before he’d denied he’d ever say, as if some outside force was compelling him. Was it fear of the crowds that squeezed out his disavowals of any association with the Son of God on trial? Was it a sinister spiritual influence? I’ve said things that I regretted even before the words left my lips. But this is how mistakes are made.

Both Peter and Judas made mistakes. On that night, they found themselves in a dark gutter, one that Satan himself frequents. And I’ll bet that if you live long enough, you’ll find yourself there too, and God only knows what you’ll do down there.

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