The evening meal was being served and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.John 13:2
As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.John 13:27
Reading John 13 leads us to ask the question: “Why did Satan seek to use Judas to speed Christ’s journey to the cross?” If the cross meant the victory of God over Satan, why would Satan hasten his own demise?
The answer to this question is that Satan did not, in fact, realize that the cross would be his undoing. It is true that the devil and his demons did know that Jesus was the Son of God. When Christ encountered persons possessed by demons, they confessed Him to be the Holy One, the Son of God (see e.g., Luke 4:34). However, their questions addressed to the Lord Jesus revealed that they did not know why He had come. They said things like: “What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” (Matthew 8:29).
Thus, what we see in John 13 is the irony of Satan using his evil influence to bring about his own destruction. Because of his fury and hatred against Jesus the King, he orchestrates the events that lead to Christ’s suffering and death on the cross. Judas has become disillusioned because the Lord Jesus is not following the expected way to royal glory. Instead of embracing applause and power, Christ is following a self-chosen path of service that will end in death. Because Judas cannot fathom the way of self-denial, he separates himself from the cause of Jesus of Nazareth.
Satan seizes the moment to take hold of the mind and heart of Judas. Satan possessed Judas for the express purpose of inciting him to betray Jesus and so bring about the crucifixion. The evil one naively believed that putting Jesus to death was the way to do away with the Son of God who had come to establish the kingdom of God. What Satan could not have imagined is that his apparent victory was in fact, God’s decisive victory over him. Satan and the rulers of the age did not see the saving wisdom and the redemptive power of the cross. “If they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8).
Thus, the seething hatred of the prince of darkness plays into the hands of God. Even the wrath of the powers of evil must serve God’s redemptive purposes. It is through the shedding of his blood that the Lion of Judah conquers. Unexpectedly for Satan, the Lion is a sacrificial Lamb (Revelation 5:5, 6). Christ defeated God’s great enemy not by killing him but by letting Himself be killed. On the cross, the seed of the woman was bruised but the head of the serpent was crushed. Through suffering and death, the ruler of the world was cast out (John 12:31).
How did the cross conquer Satan? It did so by taking away his legal grounds to accuse us. Satan’s power over the people of the world is derived from the guilt of their sin. It is our sin that generates the destructive lordship of Satan over the world. Now that Christ has paid, in full, the penalty for sin, Satan’s power over all who believe is broken forever. By faith in Christ, we may share in his victory. Through the precious blood of Jesus, we’ve been set free from all the power of the devil (Lord’s Day 1). In our ongoing struggle against “the spiritual hosts of wickedness,” we overcome by keeping our faith focussed on the sacrifice of Jesus. In this sacrifice is our victory and our eternal freedom.