The chief priests and elders went on to bribe the Romans in order to keep the news of Jesus’s resurection under wraps.
They liked to use their money to get their way. Yet we must realize that they were the ones who would suffer for it in the end.
These religious leaders were motivated by the desire to maintain their place of power and control. So to their own harm they rejected their Messiah and forfeited eternal life.
Many today also when forced to choose between an earthly goal or something they want will reject the Gospel that can save them.
Sometimes it is not a matter of mere unbelief that keeps people from heaven, it is a conflict of interest. They know that receiving Christ as Savior and Lord may include them letting go of control over their lives they think they cannot go without
Pride keeps more people from Heaven then nearly any other sin. It is the sin that got Satan thrown out and condemned him to later suffer himself in the fire of God’s wrath.
When people think of their pride, they often trivialize this sin in themselves more then any other. Some think in their hearts, “I am not making immoral choices” or “I don’t do drugs or steal” – “I am a good person and not a thief or like these people over here that need to get their lives together”
Yet an attitude like that makes people just as guilty of God’s just judgement as anyone else.
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)
The point is, God is merciful toward those who see their true need for mercy. Not those who use religious body sprays to cover up the stench of their own sin they wont acknowlege.
In the case of the chief priests and religious leaders, they made their choice and refused to accept the forgiveness Christ had if they only humbled themselves to receive it.