On Saturday, I read Matthew 26 and Matthew 27, and what stood out to me most in these chapters were the opportunities followers of Jesus or people who encountered Jesus in his last days had to acknowledge that he is the Messiah, repent of their sins, and then flee from evil they were about to commit against him. Many failed to do this, and instead, played an active role in his crucifixion.
Judas initiates his betrayal of Jesus in Matthew 26:14-16 (though it is suggested earlier in Matthew that one of the disciples will do this); Jesus identifies his betrayal in verses 21 to 25; and Judas follows through in verses 48 to 49. Judas had the opportunity to flee from evil, but he did not. I wonder, however, if Judas is the type of person 1 John 2:19 speaks about:
They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
Perhaps Judas was never a true follower of Jesus. If he was, he would have never plotted against him in the first place.
Even Pilate had an opportunity to do the right thing. His wife warned to “have nothing to do with that innocent man,” because she had a troubling dream, but Pilate released Barabbas anyway, sending Jesus to his death instead (Matthew 27:19).
The Two Rebels
The two men who were crucified alongside Jesus had heard that he was the Messiah, but they still mocked and rebuked him (Matthew 27:44). Instead, they joined the crowed in shouting false epithets. (Luke does tell this story slightly differently, indicating that one rebel did acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah (Luke 23:39).)
We All Have an Opportunity to Accept or Reject Christ
Although we do not have the privilege of meeting Jesus in person, we all have the opportunity to accept or reject him, and consequentially, receive eternal life or eternal judgement. It is such a horrifying thought to know that we are no exception and are capable of denying Christ so brutally, which we see through Judas, Pilate, and the two rebels: through betrayal and greed; self-preservation, apathy, and political correctness; and following a persuasive crowd.
What do you choose? Will you humbly accept Christ? Or, will you reject him?