What Should I do With Jesus?

Scripture: Matthew 27:11-26

Jesus’ Trial before Pilate

11 Now Jesus was standing before Pilate, the Roman governor. “Are you the king of the Jews?” the governor asked him. Jesus replied, “You have said it.” 12 But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent. 13 “Don’t you hear all these charges they are bringing against you?” Pilate demanded. 14 But Jesus made no response to any of the charges, much to the governor’s surprise. 15 Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd—anyone they wanted. 16 This year there was a notorious prisoner, a man named Barabbas. 17 As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 (He knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.) 19 Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night.” 20 Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. 21 So the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?” The crowd shouted back, “Barabbas!” 22 Pilate responded, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 23 “Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?” But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!” 24 Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!” 25 And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!” 26 So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.

Introduction

Recently a newsletter from one of America’s most prestigious universities has revived the accusation. Here’s what the “anonymous” author, reportedly a Jewish convert to Christianity, wrote in Ichthus the Harvard Christian undergraduate newsletter: “We, the Jews, collectively rejected God and hung Him up on a cross to die, and thus we deserved the punishments that were heaped on our heads over the last 2000 years.” This young man’s confession created an uproar. Personally, I see nothing wrong with what he said. It is a well documented fact that the Sanhedrin, the supreme ruling body of Judaism orchestrated the crucifixion of Jesus. This does not mean that the Jews alone are responsible for the death of Jesus but they were the impetus that lead to His crucifixion. It is also true that the Jews manipulated Pilate into carrying out the execution. He was pressured by the Jews but he did not have to yield to this pressure.

The question of the ages was presented by a pagan Roman governor, “What should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” This is the most pertinent, the most important question that you must answer. In Matthew 27 we have several characters and groups and they all respond to Jesus in different ways but there is only one acceptable way to respond to Jesus Christ and that is to ask Him for forgiveness, confess Him as Lord and invite Him to become the center of your life.

Today, lets look at the characters in Matthew 27 and see how they respond to the question: What should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”

PONTIUS PILATE

[1] PILATE’S HISTORY: Pilate is the Roman Governor of Judea who was never popular with the Jews. The Romans believed in Pax Ramana which is means Roman peace. They believed with the proper organization, authority and administration, they could rule and society including the Jews. Pilate was not sent to Judea to incite a revolution but he came very close to doing just that: [1] He marched his troops from Caesarea to Jerusalem bearing the Roman eagle and the image of Tiberius on their banners. This infuriated the Jews who staged a massive demonstration. When Pilate threatened to execute the entire lot; they assured him they were ready to die for their cause. Pilate gave in. Pilate’s second offense was to take money from the Temple Treasury for a water works project. This did not end well either. Third, Pilate had special shields made with the Roman Emperor engraved on the front. The Jews protested to Tiberius and Emperor forced Pilate to change the shields. The Jews were hard to govern. The Jewish powers {High Priest and Sanhedrin} had gone over his head repeatedly and Pilate did not think he could afford another riot which Jews excel. They wrote the book on inciting riots.

[2] PILOT’S DILEMMA: Pilate has enough experience as a judge to know that Jesus is innocent and that the Jews are motivated by envy and hate. Pilate said repeatedly, “I find no fault in this man.” {Luke 23:13} “I have examined Him throughly on this point in your presence and I find Him innocent. Herod came to the same conclusion.”

[3] PILOT’S WEAKNESS: Pilot’s gut feeling as a judge was that Jesus was innocent and there was no evidence to prove otherwise. In his conscience, Pilate believed Jesus to be innocent. Pilate’s wife believes that Jesus is innocent and begs her husband not to have any part in His death. So Pilate ignored all the warnings: his experience, his conscience and his wife’s advice.

Thus Pilate is representative of those who prefer to stay neutral. If Pilate could have had his wish, it would have been to evade the entire situation. Pilot asked the right question but he stands for the millions who refuse to do anything with Jesus. Pilate is symbolic of the indifferent. I’m not for Jesus and I’m not opposed to Jesus: I am neutral.

PILATE’S WIFE

Pilate’s wife represents the superstitious. These are folks who weight heavy into dreams and visions. They are very religious but not committed to Christ. They to recognize right from wrong and they want nothing to do with the guilt associated with the execution of Jesus. They know that it happened but they have distanced themselves from it and have convinced themselves that they share no guilt in His torture and death.

THE CROWD

The Sanhedrin illegally rendered a guilty verdict during the darkness of the night but to make everything appear legal, they reconvened at daylight, probably about 5:00 am in the morning. On an ordinary day, the streets are not crowded and Pilate is not holding court at 5:00 am. My theory is that they awoke Pilate and that they gathered the rabble, the street people, the beggars, pick pockets and those who had not yet gone to bed. The people making up the mob were the aristocrats and the rabble, the two extremes of Jewish society. The Jewish religious leaders prompted the rabble to call for the death of Jesus. These ignorant people had no idea what was going on. They represent the dupes in society. Those who do not think for themselves. Those who vote the way some lying politician or political party tell them. Ignorance is no excuse and since you are sitting under the sound of the gospel, you cannot claim ignorance.

THE JEWISH RELIGIOUS LEADERS

I have intentionally saved the Jewish Religious leaders last because they represent those who are antichrist. These are people who hate Jesus and they hate anyone who follows Him. These are they who are driven by envy, greed, jealously and hate. You will note that they were garbed in religious garments: many were priest and all professing believers in YHWH. Oh my dear people, religion is not the answer, it is a major part of the problem.

I am thankful that we have some exceptions: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus did not take part in this diabolical deed of darkness.

CONCLUSION

I don’t know if you see yourself in any of these four groups: Pilate and the indifferent, Pilate wife and the superstitious, the fickle crowd lacking character and morality or the evil hate filled Jewish leaders but make no mistake you and I were there.

Note what Peter said at Pentecost“People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know but God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him.

Let me tell you what is wrong with that statement and why: we are all guilty of the death of Jesus. Judas betrayed Him, Peter denied Him, all the disciples abandon Him, the Jews accused Him and the Romans crucified Him. Jesus said in Matthew 20:28, The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Jesus was born to die and He died for all because all have sinned. Had it not been for your sin and my sin, Jesus would not have had to suffer the most agonizing death in history. Peter was there: his sin, just like my sin crucified Jesus. No one is innocent of the blood of Christ. NO ONE!

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