Four Responses to Jesus’ Arrest – Matthew 27

Matthew 27:1-26 records the response of a number of people and groups to Jesus’ arrest and trail. I believe these responses are very similar to the negative responses that many today have to Jesus.

Judas

In Matthew 27:3-4 we read that when Judas “saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’” Judas’ motivation for betraying Jesus is a matter of conjecture. But clearly he had buyer’s remorse after the fact.

And then “Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.” Judas confessed and acknowledged his sin. But rather than turn to God in repentance, he likely saw himself as unredeemable and ended his life.

How many people today see themselves as beyond God’s love. Believing that they are so far gone that there is no hope of redemption for themselves. And so they miss out on God’s offer of forgiveness.

The Chief Priests and Elders

Next in line are the chief priests and the elders of the people. This group constitutes the ruling elite among the Jews. They would also constitute a significant portion of the spiritual leadership of the people. They had been voracious opponents of Jesus for some time, and had hired Judas to betray Jesus.

Their reaction to Judas when he remorsefully returns to them is one of indifference. Judas has betrayed innocent blood? Not their problem. As far as they are concerned it is Judas’ problem, and his alone.

These men were opposed to Jesus and all he stood for. While they had a veneer of religiosity, at their core they were concerned only for themselves and their position. I suspect you have also met people like this.

Pilate

The next person mentioned is Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. He alone had the power of life and death. So Jesus is brought to him by the religious leaders in order to have him condemned.

Pilate understands that Jesus is innocent of the charges against him and is inclined to release him. In addition his wife weighs in and implores him to have nothing to do with Jesus, an innocent man. But Pilate is facing an insistent crowd that is clambering for Jesus to be crucified.

So Pilate does the expedient thing. Rather then take a stand that would reduce his popularity, he gives into the crowd and sentences Jesus to be executed. But as he does, so he washes his hands of Jesus’ blood, trying to ‘pass the buck’ on his responsibility.

The Crowd

The final response comes from the crowd that had gathered at Pilate’s judgement seat. This was likely not the crowd of pilgrims that had come with Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Instead this crowd was probably composed on residents of Jerusalem. Folks who would have been much more responsive to the appeal of the priests and elders, their ‘spiritual leaders’.

The priests and elders convinced the crowd to call for Jesus’ crucifixion when Pilate was inclined to let him go. It is unknown just how the individuals in that crowd felt about Jesus. But I suspect that they were like many today who support one political candidate or cause. Not because they have spent any time investigating him or it. But because those with influence in their tribe have thrown their weight behind that person or cause.

And, in the end, when Pilate washes his hands of Jesus’ blood, they accept responsibility for it. They are essentially committing themselves to a course of action that they have likely not thought through. And this is still a problem today for those who choose to follow the crowd.

A Fifth Response

One person is filled with remorse and commits suicide. Another acts with indifference. A third takes an expedient approach and shirks his responsibility. And a fourth mindlessly follows the crowd. You can find people today who take all of these approaches to life. And in particular in their response to Jesus.

But there is another response that you can make to Jesus. You can join with his disciples, and countless others over the years and worship him as Lord and God. Committing your lives to him and finding eternal life.

The choice is yours. Which one will you make?

The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.

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