Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross means our sins can be forgiven. However, each one of us must make a decision about what we believe about Jesus. Is Jesus truly the Son of God, the Messiah, and the Lord of my life? Being a Christ-follower doesn’t mean that everything will be easy in life. Jesus endured suffering and so will we. We live in a broken and fallen world. But, the cross shows us that Jesus is atoning for the sins of the world, and Easter will show us that He has the power to make all things new again. Hold tight to Jesus! He triumphs in the end.
We All Have to Choose
Pilate had the earthly authority to spare Jesus’ life, but He did anything He could to avoid the choice in front of him.
Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” (John 19:4)
Pilate did not tell the Jews that Jesus was a criminal, but he didn’t go so far as to defend Him as innocent. Should Pilate be commended for not openly siding with the Jews who wished to kill Jesus? Maybe that’s better than calling for His crucifixion. But it’s not enough to call Jesus a good person with good ideals, but leave Him to die on the cross and refuse Him the recognition He deserves as Lord. Our God deserves better than our passive, cowardly indifference.
As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”
But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” (John 19:6)
As a Roman ruler placed in charge of Jewish subjects, Pilate had ultimate authority over their decision to put Jesus to death. You can sense in this verse that he wished to wash his hands clean of this murder, instead leaving it up to the Jews to kill their “king.” But in truth, Jesus was and is Pilate’s King as well; He died for all of God’s people.
The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”
When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” (John 19:7-10)
Pilate feared that, if he were to stick up for Jesus, Caesar would not take well to his defense of another man claiming to be king. And yet, Pilate also likely feared the rumors that Jesus was indeed a god, among all the gods he believed in as a pagan. In the end, Pilate was worried about himself more than he desired to stand up for truth and the true God. In less extraordinary ways, we are no different as we sin today.
Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” (John 19:11-12)
Amazingly, the Jewish leaders who were demanding the death of their own God correctly understood that both Caesar and Jesus could not be the ultimate king. Yet, they chose their oppressor over their own Creator. They twisted Pilate’s arm, making the stakes of his decision clear. To step out for Jesus in the moment would have been to potentially sacrifice Pilate’s own life under the might of Caesar.
“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.
Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. (John 19:14-16)
Together, the Jews and the Roman, Pilate, chose a god for themselves. Jesus was put to death for crimes He did not commit. He was tortured and killed by the very people He came to save. The most amazing truth comes next week as we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even though on that day He died, He did not fail!
We have the same decision Pilate had. Although we do not interact with Jesus in the flesh, and we do not have the power to condemn Him to death, we choose every day whether to recognize Him as our Lord. We choose to sacrifice our way for His way, or otherwise we choose to sacrifice our relationship with God for our way. Which choice will you make?