The Soundtrack of the Cross – Psalm 22

Young couples sometimes pick out a popular song as theirs. When the song comes on the radio, she may say, “They are playing our song.”

A common question asked these days when powerful people are interviewed: “What’s on your iPod?” What do you listen to when your in the gym, in the car, at home, in the office? What is the soundtrack of your life?

No one ever asks: What would be the soundtrack of your death?

Have you ever wondered: What song was playing when Jesus died?

For many of the Psalms of David it is possible to connect them with certain events in David’s life. However, the 22nd has no life event from David in view because it is a description of an execution, specifically a crucifixion. “Being therefore a prophet…” David spoke concerning Messiah’s execution on a cross (Acts 2.30). Over 300 years before crucifixion is invented as a mode of death, David pictures it here. The gospels record the facts; the Psalms the feelings of the cross. Psalm 22 captures the agony & glory of the cross of Christ.

This Psalm is typically divided into two (2) sections: suffering (1-21a) & salvation (21b-31), with verse 21 acting as the turning point of the Psalm.

A Gruesome Crucifixion – the Humiliation of Christ (1-21)

Alienated from His Father (1-5): During His life & ministry, Jesus had never known a moment without the Father’s presence; uninterrupted fellowship. But on the cross when He who knew no sin the Father made to be sin for our sake (2 Corinthians 5.21), that changed. How lonely Calvary was for Christ!

1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

“Eloi, Eloi” – the double name denotes close, personal relationship. “Why?” There was a reason for the agony of the cross; there is a reason for suffering.

2O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.

It seems prayers go unanswered, even unheard. Keep praying!

3Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.

The Psalmist is comforted by the holiness of God.

4In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob repeatedly trusted God & He never failed them.

5To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

“How you gonna do me like that, God?” These guys were heard; how about me?

Abused by His Foes (6-8, 12-18): From His youth, from His birth, from before His birth, the cross loomed & cast a dark shadow over the life of Christ. A millennium before God became flesh, David pictured the event. So graphic are David’s descriptions that it almost seems as tho he were present for the very crucifixion. Put down (6-7), scorned, despised, mocked; Poured out (14-15); pierced (16).

6But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.

Here is the “I AM” saying “I am a worm.” Surely He thought this & perhaps it was uttered tho unrecorded in the gospels. Certainly Christ was hated & hounded.

7All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;

8“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

See Matthew 27.41-43; Mark 15.29 for the fulfillment of these verses. How would you feel if in your darkest hour someone said this to you? Amplify it by infinity & you are coming close to how Christ felt.

12Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me;

Circling bulls, ready to charge & gore with their horns. Bashan was known for its fine cattle; here is pictured the raving, raging mob led by the leaders.

13they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.

14I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;

His heart is “melted” under the heat of divine wrath; & if Christ’s heart melts under the full force of divine wrath, what about ours if we reject Christ!

15my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.

He is all dried up under the blistering heat of divine justice. Every drop of fluid is gone. Intense thirst.

16For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—

“Dogs” would be, prophetically, gentile Roman soldiers. Here crucifixion is described over 300 years before the first poor attempts at it are hinted & nearly 700 yrs before it is perfected & popularized by Alexander the Great.

Answered by His Father (9-11, 19-21)

9Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.

10On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.

“God, I need you here. Stay close” (11, 19). A present God is a present blessing!

19But you, O Lord, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!

20Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog!

21Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!

Part prayer; part praise. “Save me! You heard/answered/rescued.” “It was the will of YHWH to crush Him…He shall prolong His days” (Isaiah 53.10).

A Glorious Coronation – The Exaltation of Christ (22-31)

All at once the tone shifts. From the darkness of Calvary comes joy…

Joy in Israel (22-25): “Praise Him.” “I will [proclaim]…I will praise…I will perform…” Future tense. How can He do this if He’s dead? Resurrection! Perhaps these words of the song comforted Jesus on the cross as He hung dying; He whispers them thru parched lips.

23You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

Note the three-fold duty – praise Him, glorify Him, revere Him.

Great Spiritual Feast (26-29): Rich & poor (26, 29) from all over the earth (27) gather to feast and be satisfied by what YHWH has provided thru the Christ. Israel was to be a light to the nations (Isa 45.22; 49.6); in Christ this is fully realized.

27All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.

Herein is universal evangelism pictured – “all the ends of the earth…all the families of the nations…” Not merely Jew but Gentile shall prosper because of Christ’s crucifixion & resurrection. “Remember” is reflection on sin; “Turn” & “worship” are repentance & holiness.

Future Grace (30-31): For “Coming generation” – 71.18; 78.6; 102.18; do you get the feeling that God cares about the next generation, i.e. the kids. May I just say to those of you who work in the education department of the local congregation that you are engaged in the glorious work of dispensing grace to the next generation.

30Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;

31they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.

Here also are the future prospects of the church: “They shall come” – converts are certain. “They shall…proclaim His righteousness” – those converted will join us in the work of evangelism. “To a people yet unborn” – future generations will be blessed. Christ will be exalted in all this! “He has done it” or “It is finished.” “The Lord” (adoni) has accomplished the work of redemption. This is the last word of Christ on the cross. It is the heart of the gospel we proclaim.

Per crucem ad lucem – thru the cross into the light. Without the darkness of the cross there cannot be the light of glory. Maybe the tune started like Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata before ending like Vivaldi’s Spring.

“It is finished” so respond to God’s grace.

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The Crucifixion, pt.2

As we continue through the crucifixion scene, we cannot but see that multiple prophecies are finding their fulfillment in the historical account of Jesus’ death. Intermingled with these prophetic fulfillments is the Christ’s cries from the cross, petitions even to heaven itself for the people performing this heinous deed.

Numbered with the Transgressors

Luke especially points this out and is the only gospel writer who gives us the details concerning the dialogue between Jesus and one of these criminals in particular. The word “criminal” is actually a contraction of two words in Greek, one meaning “evil” (kakon) and the other “work” (ergos) and is variously translated “criminal” or “malefactor.” Literally these are “evil doers” (Gk. kakourgoi). These are bad men receiving their due punishment. Between these evil doers is crucified the sinless Son of God. Isaiah records how the suffering Servant would be “numbered with the transgressors” (Isa 53.12b) and how through that action he would “make intercession for the transgressors” by bearing “the sin of many.” Jesus, in the upper room scene with His disciples, when He institutes the Lord’s Supper has already pointed to the vicarious nature of His death: “this is my blood of the [new] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt 26.28, ESV. Emphasis mine). All of this prophecy, from Isaiah to Jesus, finds its fulfillment here in the crucifixion.

Nailed to a Cross

As mentioned in Part 1, the manner in which Jesus was to be killed, namely crucifixion, was prophecied nearly a millenium before Jesus lived in Psalm 22.16: “they have pierced my hands and feet.” This is a prophetic picture of crucifixion. Two thousand years removed from the first century Roman Empire, this cruel form of torturous death has lost its impact upon the human psyche. The cross was not a warm, fuzzy, friendly image in the early church. Indeed, for nearly a millenium the cross was not the main symbol of Christianity as it is today. People understood what crucifixion was all about. The Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero (102-43 BC) called crucifixion “a most cruel and disgusting punishment.” He went on to say, “It is a crime to put a Roman citizen in chains, it is an enormity to flog one, sheer murder to slay one; what, then, shall I say of crucifixion? It is impossible to find the word for such an abomination.” He goes on to say, “Let the very mention of the cross be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears.” Jewish historian Josephus called it “the most wretched of deaths.” Indeed, under Jewish law, being hung on a tree was a curse (see Gal 3.13 where Paul quotes Deut 21.23). It was an ugly, miserable, horrible way to die.

And yet, it should be noted that the gospel writers spend very little time dealing with the actual practice of crucifixion. Luke puts forth very simply that Jesus was crucified with next to no emphasis on the actual suffering and torment of crucifixion. The primary focus concerning the sacrifice of Christ is that 1) it happened, really and truly and 2) there are real benefits and significance for mankind as a result of the death of Jesus. Further, by comparison, the majority of the focus in the gospel narratives is on the life and teachings of Jesus as well as presenting the actual, factual resurrection of Jesus. Indeed, the crucifixion scene (i.e. the death of Jesus) seems to be pointing forward to Sunday morning when the tomb is empty (i.e. the resurrection of Jesus).

Jesus is crucified at the place called the Skull (or “Calvary,” KJV which translates it such from the Latin calvaria). In Aramaic, it is Golgotha (see John 19.17). Most scholars say this hill is north of Jerusalem looks like a skull and is therefore named appropriately. It should be noted, though, there is a tradition that this is the place where, after vanquishing his opponent, David came and buried the skull of Goliath. Yet another tradition says this is the place where Adam’s skull was buried. But is seems most likely the hill was named for what it resembled: a skull. “There they crucified Him.” The statement is brief yet sums up the entire event. One criminal is to His right, the other on His left. Here, heaven’s love and heaven’s justice will meet and the problem of sin will be settled.

Casting Lots for His Garments

Luke records a unique of Jesus from the cross in v.34: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Here is a prayer, short and simple, from the lips of Jesus. He prays the Father forgive “them.” Who? The Jews? The Romans? Either or both seems to be acceptable. As Barnes points out the Romans did not know that they were crucifying the Son of God and the Jews did not know that they were yet filling up the cup of God’s wrath. Even while the mobs cry “Crucify Him” Jesus crys out to the Father “Forgive them.”

Meanwhile, at the foot of the cross, the Roman soldiers are busy gambling for the clothing of Jesus. Yet another prophecy is fulfilled from Psalm 22.18: “they divide my garments among them,/ and for my clothing they cast lots.” The garments, history tells us, were the clothing of a simple man, even a poor man. Modern-day televangelists want people to believe that Jesus had a big house, drove a Rolls Royce, and wore designer clothing (Prosperity preachers Dr. Apostle Frederick K. C. Price, Creflo Dollar, John Hagee, Jesse Duplantis, Kenneth Copeland, et al). John Chrysostrom says this detail is added to show the poorness of the Lord’s clothing. In other words, He wore dressed in simple fashion.

Wagging their Heads

In verse 35 we have yet another fulfilled prophecy as Luke alludes to Psalm 22.7-8. Indeed, Matthew records this account and the words of the rulers are nearly identical to the words of David (see Matt 27.39, 43). There is a marked difference between the people (who seem to have comprised the bulk of the crowds calling for Jesus’ crucifixion) and the rulers. The people are nearby just standing and watching all of this. What was going on in their hearts and minds? Remorse? Guilt? Memories of this great Teacher? The triumphal entry just days earlier? However, the rulers of the people scoff and deride Jesus, calling upon Him to “save himself” from His present predicament. They call Him the “Christ of God.” This term has come up in Luke previously (9.20) when Peter called Jesus this same thing. No doubt they were calling Him this in that Jesus, less than 24 hours previous, had stood trial and acknowledged as much before them (22.67, 70). “His Chosen One” is unique to Luke’s account of the crucifixion. It is a term that speaks of divine favor, something that the Son of God would no doubt have. The rulers draw even more attention to the fact of Jesus’ unheard of claims and his present plight on the cross.

But the jeering does not stop with the Jewish authorities. Even the Roman soldiers (v.36), the executioners themselves, join in the ridicule, mocking Jesus as He hangs on the cross. There is yet further fulfillment of prophecy from Psalm 69.21: “for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.” The soldiers, Luke tells us, did just this when they offered him “sour wine.” This was cheap wine, really vinegar wine heavily diluted with water and gall. Luke is the only gospel writer to mention that there was mocking that accompanied the offering of sour wine to Jesus. Their mocking is simple but sadistic: “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” The “if” can also be translated “since.” Having the placard posted over Jesus on the cross (v.38) would point them to an understanding that this man has claimed to be someone great. Therefore, since He is a King, he should be able to save himself.

Verse 38 presents an interesting historical note. All four gospel accounts mention a placard with an inscription and while “the four reports of the inscription slightly differ verbally” there is no difference “substantially” (Pulpit Commentary). Some of the oldest manuscripts do not have part of v.38 (“in letters of Greek and Latin and Hebrew”) but that this was an historical fact is evident because John records (John 19.19) and no authorities dispute this. The message on the placard is the crime for which the condemned is dying. In Jesus’ case, He claimed to be “The King of the Jews.”

These are several of the prophecies we find fulfilled directly in the historical crucifixion of Jesus. Now Luke will shift focus to an incident duirng the crrucifixion which is cause for much misunderstand pertaining to salvific matters. What’s next is Luke’s account of the thief on the cross.

The Crucifixion, pt.1

Recently, a televangelist told his audience of thousands (possibly millions across the country and around the world) that Jesus never told His disciples he was going to die on a cross, i.e. by crucifixion. What a monstrous display of biblical illiteracy! And this from a guy who has his own television broadcast seen world wide!! This particular pastor (Fred Price Jr., son of Apostle Frederick K. C. Price, pastors of the Crenshaw Christian Center) even had the audacity to claim he had researched this and would not say this if he had not researched it. My advise to this ignorant pastor: read your Bible.

For if you read your Bible, even just a cursory reading of the gospel accounts will tell you otherwise. On multiple occasions Jesus has pointed His disciples to even to the mode of death, crucifixion (See Matt 16.21, 24; 20.19; Luke 9.22-23; 24.6-7; cf. Mark 8.31, 34; 9.31; 10.33-34; Luke 18.32-33, et al). Further, even if Jesus was silent about the specifics of His death, God was not silent and prophecied centuries before crucifixion was invented in the mind of man as a torturous mode of death and nearly a millenium before Jesus ever walked the earth that Messiah would die by crucifixion (see Psalm 22.16). Again, to all the televangelists: read your Bible.

No, Jesus has been predicting exactly what will happen to Him in Jerusalem by the Jewish and Roman authorities: He would be crucified. Luke records this dreadful deed in 23.26-43. First, in verses 26-31, we run into several people on the way to the crucifixion site.

The Man

We meet a man named Simon of Cyrene, a town in North Africa. This man is a long way from home, no doubt one of the Passover pilgrims in Jerusalem for the Feast. There is precious little we know about this man and what happened to him once he finished carrying the cross to the site. Mark tells us he was father to two sons, “Alexander and Rufus” (Mark 15.21). Most scholars believe that Mark wrote his gospel, aided by the apostle Peter (an eyewitness) and the Holy Spirit, to or for the church in Rome. Hence, Mark includes this specific detail about Simon of Cyrene being the father of Alexander and Rufus as if to say, “If you have any questions, just ask these men who’s dad was there and actually carried the cross.” It is interesting that in Romans 16.13 Paul greets a man in the Roman church named Rufus and his mother. Is this the same Rufus? It is possible, but any attempts to draw a hard line connecting them is purely speculation. Nevertheless, if nothing else, it would seem that Simon’s sons went on to be leaders in the early church. Were they influenced by their father, himself impacted by what he experienced when he carried the cross of a condemned man named Jesus?

Simon was coming in from the country. It seems that Jerusalem, crowded with Jews from all over the Empire, yet again has no room in the inn for anyone, Simon of Cyrene included. Hence, he forced to lodge outside the city in a nearby village and “commutes” as it were to Jerusalem for the Feast. Perhaps on this occasion he was on his way to the Temple or to the Cyrenian synagogue, which Jerusalem had. Cyrene was an important city with a large number of Jewish residents. So when they had to come from Cyrene to Jerusalem for the various feasts, they had a place to gather.

Simon is “seized” by the Romans and “compelled” to carry the cross of Christ. Jesus has been weakened by the last 24 hours and perhaps especially the scourging He has endured has taken its toll. So the soldiers lay hold of Simon had force him to go “the extra mile” as it were. The cross is laid on him and he follows Jesus as Jesus walks. Scholars reading from historians of antiquity say that the condemned often had a white sign hung about their necks which read their charges and what they had been condemned of. Perhaps Jesus has a similar sign and this is what is affixed later to the cross.

The Maidens

Luke is careful to note that this whole episode was not done in secret where no one could see; in fact, when Jesus is before Pilate there are substantial crowds of people (23.4, 13) present. Here again we see there is “a great multitue of the people” who are following along this deadly processional to Golgotha. But Luke, as he has done throughout this gospel account (1.39-52; 2.36-38; 7.11-15, 37-50; 8.1-3; 10.38-42; 11.27; 13.11-16), highlights some women who are walking along with Jesus. These women are crying out, wailing loudly, beating their breasts or smiting themselves as they go. Perhaps He sees the faces of some of the women He has known during His ministry: Mary and Martha, Joanna, Mary Magdalene. Did He see His mother’s face in the crowd? She was present at the cross (John 19.25-27).

Nevertheless, Jesus sees these women and turns to them, a dramatic gesture in the midst of chaos, and imparts some teaching about what is to come. First, He says stop weeping for Him. What? But Jesus is one His way to death. True, but Jesus knows something even worse is yet to come. Stop weeping for Jesus. Second, start weeping for yourselves and your children. When I was little if I cried over something I wanted but did not get, my dad would tell me to “dry it up or I will give you something to cry about!” Jesus does something similar; He tells them exactly what to cry about. Third, He explains why: There are some bad, terrible, horrible things come down Jerusalem’s way. In fact, it will be a blessing to have been barren and not had children when this time comes. People will be calling for mountains and hills to fall and cover them from the terror and horror of what is coming. “They” in v.29-30 seems to be the people who have called for the death of Jesus – the religious leaders and other various people of Jerusalem, the crowds. And all the judgment coming upon them would spill over onto all of Jerusalem. Hence, these “Daughters of Jerusalem” who belong to Jerusalem proper do have something to weep, lament, and beat their breasts over: the coming destruction of Jerusalem, heaven’s exclamation point on the grand scheme of redemption.

Finally, there is this cryptic word from Jesus in v.31: “For if they do these when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” What’s this all about? It seems to be a common proverb used as an explanation of what Jesus has just said. Various interpretations abound. Leon Morris in his commentary on Luke offers several which all seem plausible. Morris writes: “If the innocent Jesus suffered thus, what will the fate of the guilty Jews? If the Romans treat thus One whom they admit to be innocent, what will they do to the guilty? If the Jews treat like this Jesus who had come to bring salvation, what will be their punishment for destroying him? If the Jews behave like this before their wickedness reaches its consummation, what will they be like when it does? If grief is aroursed by the present events, what will it be when the subsequent disaster strikes?” Farrar adds: “If they act thus to me, the Innocent and the Holy, what shall be the fate of these, the guilty and false.” Inasmuch as Jesus addressed these Jewish women and it was the Jewish who so vehemently sought his death, this proverb from Jesus seems targeted for the Jews. The “wood” when he spoke this proverb is “green,” that is hard to burn. But its drying. Even as Jesus marches to Golgotha, the wood is drying. And when it is dry, what will happen? We, looking back into history, know exactly what happen when Jerusalem’s time in AD 70.

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

When I read this section of Luke (22.1-6), I think of the song “Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap)” because that really is what Judas is doing. Actually, I suppoose we could call them “devilish deeds” based on what Luke says in v.3 (“Satan entered Judas”) and, relatively speaking, he did these deeds “dirt cheap.” At the same time, we now descend into the darkness, the darkest part of the life of Christ. Events will put certain things in motion which will lead to the arrest, trial, and execution of Jesus in under 24 hours. The first of these events is Judas’ betrayal.

The Avidity to Kill Jesus

In verses 1-2 we see the great desire of Jesus opponents to kill Jesus. Luke puts his historical touch on this by noting that the Feast of Unleavened Bread was drawing near. This puts this in an historical context, in real space-time. Indeed, Jesus was a real man who really died in human history. He was not a myth nor a legend. Luke further note this is called the Passover also. Intended for Greeks who perhaps were unfamiliar with all the Jewish customs, Luke adds this note. Strictly speaking, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Passover were distinct from each other, nevertheless they were regarded as one celebration. We note the Passover, the commemoration of what God did for Israel in bringing them out Egypt (Exodus 12) when he slew the firstborn child of all in Egypt but passed over the people of Israel who had the blood on the doorpost. Indeed, Christ is our Passover lamb (1 Cor 5.7) and those covered in the blood are passed over, free from the full wrath of God.

It was at this time, roughly corresponding to March in our calendar year, that the chief priest and scirbes were seeking and desiring to put Jesus to death, whether by legal or quasi-legal procedures. As the narrative unfolds, we will see they pursue the latter. While the Pharisees and Sadducees were some of Jesus stiffest opposition, it is the chief priests who hold the political power to actually pursue execution of Jesus. Hence, they, with the scribes, take the lead. But there was one hiccup in the road: the people. These powerful men were truly powerless because of the people. What could they do?

The Agreement to Kill Jesus

Enter Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve who followed Jesus. He was the son of Simon of Iscariot (see John 6.71; 13.26). The term Iscariot is often used to distinguish between this Judas and another Judas in the company of apostles (see Luke 6.16; John 14.22) and points to his hometown of Keriot in southern Judah. An interesting note is that Judas was the only apostle who was not from Galilee. By some accounts, Judas was an important disciple: he had control over the money and seemed to be near Jesus at the last supper since Jesus was able to give him the morsel (John 13.26). It is this man who betrays the Lord. The enormity of the betrayal is seen in the language of Luke when saying he was “one of the twelve.”

Judas comes to the enemies of Jesus and discusses with them what is to be done and how Judas might betray Jesus to them. Luke only tells us that there were “officers” present. These were the commanders of the temple guard, no doubt acting as body guards for these high priestly men. Imagine their joy (v.5) when we finally reach an agreement. How exactly it went down and what exactly the discussion consisted of is not known. But there was some talk, some negotiation about price and deliverance of Jesus to them. But finally an agreement is reached and Judas casts his lot in with these men and their wicked work. And now all they have to do is wait. Wait for the right moment when Jesus is alone, by Himself, away from the people.

I know what your asking yourself.  Its the same I rack my brain over. Why? Why did he do it? Again, by accounts he was a disciple of position and promise, good with money, perhaps a leader. The ideas abound. Some say Judas was disappointed with what Jesus was doing. After all it was Judas who raised his voice over the anointing of Jesus (John 12.4). Disappointment that the grand vision of the kingdom perhaps drove him to it. Of course, if we stay in that account in John 12, we see Judas was a thief. Maybe he was just a bad guy who was tired of the lack of cash flow coming in. Still others try to paint a different light on Judas and say he was merely trying to get to exert His power and hasten the coming of the kingdom. Maybe if he pressed Him, Jesus would finally start acting like the Messiah the Jews had hoped for. Still others have suggested that perhaps Judas, for whatever reason, began to doubt that Jesus was truly the Messiah. Perhaps Judas thought Jesus was a false Messiah and the true Messiah was yet to come. Still others say Judas was tired of Jesus indifference to the law and His association with “sinners” and His violation of the Sabbath. There are even those who say Judas was the hero of this whole ordeal and merely doing what Jesus had talked him into. Again, I say, speculation abounds.

What’s the reality? The reality is Scripture is relatively silent on the exact motive of why Judas did it. Luke says Satan entered him. The prince of the powers of darkness was able to sway Judas to his camp and use him to “guide” (Acts 1.16) these enemies of Jesus to Him. The Pulpit Commentary says, “For one to whom such splendid chances were offered to fall so low, is an awful mystery.” Perhaps the greater question is did Jesus know? Jesus was the one who look into the hearts of men. Did He know that Judas was or would be a thief, take a bribe, turn out to be a betrayer? Did He know and still call Judas to “follow me”? Set before Judas (and indeed us) are the paths of life and death, sin and fellowship with the Creator. And he chose the wrong path. It is vivid and terrible example of the fundamental choice men and women have before them.