Matthew 27:21,22 says, “The governor answered and said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you? They said Barabbas. Pilate said to them, what then should I do with Jesus who is called Christ? They all said to him, let him be crucified.”
These words of Pontius Pilate and the Jewish leaders are among the most unforgettable words in the Bible. It is the most extraordinary scene ever witnessed in human history. The one who created the universe is standing before a Roman judge in a court of judgment, and this scene will be reversed on the day of judgment when this same Roman judge will stand before Jesus in a judgment situation. Pontius Pilate is one of the most famous men who has ever lived, and his name has become a household word in the homes of Christians for two thousand years. Moreover, I am inclined to think that most people in the world have heard of this famous man. The man has been dead for two thousand years, but the human race cannot forget him. He is gone, but his name lives on in infamy. How shall we account for such undying fame? His name lives on because one day in his life he met Jesus and had a conversation with him. The world would never have remembered that Pilate ever lived except for his encounter with Christ. He was called on to decide whether Christ should live or die. After careful examination he decided that Christ was not only innocent, but he was also a righteous man. When the Jewish leaders demanded that Jesus be crucified, Pilate said, “Why, what evil has He done? I find no fault in Him.” He even took water and washed his hands before the multitude and said, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. But when he saw that he could not prevail, that a tumult was arising and was threatened to be reported to Caesar, he delivered him to be crucified. For the way He treated Jesus we cannot forget him. Because of the relationship he had with Jesus, his name has been immortalized. He is famous only because of Jesus. On the Day of Judgment, I am inclined to think that Pilate will feel worse than anyone else. He didn’t know Jesus was the divine Son of God and even the Jewish leaders did not believe in Him. Nevertheless, he missed his opportunity. Millions of people on that day will be able say, “I did not know who you were.” The world would never have remembered that a Roman Governor named Pilate lived except for this encounter with Christ.
Pilate is not only one of the most famous men who has ever lived, but he has given to the world perhaps the most famous question that a human being can ask. He coined this famous question after he had made one more desperate attempt to save Jesus. It was the custom at the Passover to release a criminal from prison chosen by the Jews. This was permitted to secure popularity with Jews and give importance to the visit, which Pilate made to Jerusalem. Jews held in high esteem political prisoners who opposed Rome, and to release one of them was most pleasing to the Jews. Pilate thought he might be able to save Jesus by giving the Jews a choice between a notable prisoner called Barabbas and Jesus. Barabbas was involved in a rebellion against Rome and in the confusion had committed murder. Pilate thought surely they would let Jesus go free instead of murderer, but it wasn’t to be so. They screamed out to let Barabbas go free and have Jesus crucified. They chose a murderer over Jesus, and Peter reminded the Jews on the Day of Pentecost of that sinful choice.
When the multitude demanded the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus, Pilate then presented this question to Jewish leaders and all the people, “What shall I do with Jesus, who is called Christ? But the importance of this question to us is, “What shall each one of us do with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate’s place in history was achieved because he asked that question. Pilate was asking a question larger than himself, larger than his time. As long as men live, Pilate will be remembered as the man through whom life’s most important question was issued. This is a question relevant to all people in every century since the first century, relevant to every generation and all age groups who are old enough to know right from wrong. Each and every person must answer this question for himself or herself, and no one can answer it for us. “What will I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate answered that question by turning Jesus over to the Jews to be crucified. That is the question of all questions; whatever may be man’s race, color, religion, or creed. That is the question all people must answer in their lifetime: Jewish people, African, Arabic people, Hindu people, and all other people regardless of their religious belief. In a real sense the entire human race is on trial; they must decide whether Jesus will live or die, and how they answer that question will determine their eternal destiny. Someone might say, “You are making a big deal over this question of Pilate. Is it really so important?”
The reason this question is so relevant in the 21 st century is that Jesus Christ is our contemporary. Someone who is a contemporary is one who lives when we live. Please notice the question comes with the first pronoun “I”. What will I do with Jesus.” Some things about life are inescapable, and Christ is one of them. For over two thousand years Christ has been the central character of human history. Pilate is dead, but Christ is alive, and in a real sense He stands before us all, and we all have to answer Pilate’s question, as did Israel of old. It is an inescapable question. Jesus is the inescapable Christ. No one can get away from Jesus or get around Him. He is a living reality. Before He left this world He said this to His disciples, “And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). Christ’s biography closes with these words. In some sense Jesus remains in the world, and it is as though
He never left. Explain it as you will, but He said I am with you always. He is among us and in the world. He said of Christians who assemble to worship God and observe the Lord’s Supper, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” He made us, and He is a person every human being must deal with. Because He is at the heart of all human existence, He is on the agenda of every person’s life. Jesus said to John on the Isle of Patmos, “I am He who lives, and was dead and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of hades and death.” The most obvious truth about Christ is that He cannot be ignored. Across the centuries man has answered the question of Pilate with contempt, scorn, astonishment, and some with undying love. Others have answered with indifference. Those who are indifferent to this question in effect say, “Let Him be crucified.” But all, mind you, have answered this question in one way or another. It is an inescapable question.
My friends, the world must accept the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is alive. He is not the Hero of some vague fairy tale or a superstitious person invented by His distraught disciples. He is not the memorable character of a sentimental old out of date book called the Bible. He is much more than that He is the world’s greatest teacher. He lives!. Though He preexisted before He came to earth, He is as much at home in Arizona as in Capernaum. The word of God says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever”(Hebrews 13:8). There is no way anyone can intelligently answer this great question of life if one is not convinced that Jesus is alive. The question as to whether Christ will live or die must be answered within the heart of every person. The basic issues that were involved in the crucifixion are at stake today. Christ was not put to death by a group of rabble-rousers. They were, for the most part, ordinary citizens. Among there were the most religious people of the day. Today we stand where they stood. While the details of time and place are different, the basic decisions, which they faced, are the very ones at issue in our lives today. The cross of Christ is inescapable. It raises unchanging choices, which must be faced anew by each generation. .
Finally, this passage of scripture has raised many conflicting views on who bears the most responsibility and guilt for the crucifixion of Christ. Who is to be blamed for this terrible crime of the first century? Shall we put all the blame on Pilate?. No, we can’t put all the blame on this poor Roman ruler. He was a victim of circumstances. He did make several attempts to set Jesus free. The poor man did not know who Jesus was, and the leaders of the Jewish nation rejected Jesus as an imposter. However, we cannot excuse his conduct. He killed an innocent man. He sent a man to the cross whom he believed to be a righteous man. Certainly, Pilate bears some of the guilt for the crucifixion. Furthermore, the religious world has been deliberating for years about the level guilt, which the Jewish race should bear, for the first century crime. Christendom, in general, places most of the blame on the Jewish nation. However, the Jews as a nation should not solely be held accountable, or Jesus was more than a matter of concern for those Jerusalem Sanhedrin. I agree with those who believe that Jesus Christ cannot be made the exclusive business of any age or place. No one doubts that a lot of blame belongs to the Jewish nation in rejecting Christ as their heaven-appointed Messiah, and God did hold them accountable by destroying the city of Jerusalem, by destroying their Temple, and by sending them into Roman captivity in 70 A.D. By crucifying Christ, they themselves brought the Jewish religion to an end forever, for Jesus nailed their religion to the cross. The Jewish religion died when Jesus died. It was indeed the crowning sin of Israel to crucify their Messiah. However, we cannot place all the blame on Israel for the crucifixion of Christ. The one really important question–whether Christ should live or die– was not settled by one passing generation of Jews, occupying a tiny, insignificant corner of the world two thousand years ago. There was more to the death of Christ than the unbelief of a handful of Jewish people in the small nation of Israel two thousand years ago.
Let’s place the major blame for the death of Christ on the people to whom it rightly belongs. Most of the blame for the death Christ falls on the entire human race. It was the sinfulness of mankind from the time of Adam to the time of Christ that sent Christ to the cross. We all crucified Him. The supreme explanation for the death of Christ given in the book of Isaiah 53:4-6: “Surely He has borne our grief’s and carried our sorrows. Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. We have turned, everyone to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” God laid on Jesus the iniquity of all mankind. God allowed all this to happen to Christ that He might offer reconciliation and eternal life to all mankind. The crucifixion of Christ was the crowning sin of the human race. The Bible says Christ tasted death for every man. Christians sing hymns in which they give to themselves a share of the guilt of our Lord’s death. One Christian hymn says: “Alas and did my Savior bleed? And did my Sovereign die? Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?
Was it for crimes that I have done, He groaned upon the tree? Amazing pity! Grace unknown! And love beyond degree.” Another hymn says: “Shall Crucify the Savior, When for me He bore such loss? Shall I put to shame my Savior? Can I nail Him to the cross?
Twas my sins that crucified Him: Shall they crucify Him yet? Shall I crucify my Savior? Crucify my Lord again? Once O once I crucified Him: Shall I crucify again?” In this hymn we learn that Christians have crucified Him once, and it is possible for Christians to crucify Him a second time. The answer to all the questions in that hymn are, “Yes, its possible.” That hymn is based on a teaching in the book of Hebrews 6:4-6, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, if they fall away, (it is impossible) to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God and put Him to an open shame.” We must understand that statement in the light of the context. Because of the Jewish persecution those Jewish Christians were about to give up the Christian religion and go back the Jewish religion. That would not be an ordinary sin, which can be forgiven by repentance and prayer. This sin would be the sin of apostasy, a complete departure from the Christian religion for another religion, a complete break with Christ as their Savior. That would be about the same treatment the people gave Him when He was before Pontius Pilate. Christians can willingly reject Christ who forgave them of a lifetime of sin, but such a sin assault on Christ puts Him to an open shame before the world. If a Christian does that, there is no way back to Christ. As long as a Christian believes in Christ as God’s Son and the Savior of the world, any sin he commits may be forgiven, but to forsake Him and lose all faith in Him as Lord and Savior, there is nothing that can be done for that person. He is gone. The reason given for the doom of such a person is, “It is impossible to renew him to repentance.” May that never happen of any of us We all have crucified Him once by the way we lived before we became Christians, and that’s enough. Peter taught the same truth about the sin of apostasy in 2 Peter 2:20, “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment given to them.”Speaking Truth In Love!
GOD EXPECTS US TO JUDGE -God expects us to judge between the good and the bad, the precious from the vile, the unrighteous from the righteous. Everything we do in life requires judgement on our part. We judge what candidate we want to elect for president based upon their character and track record of achievements. We Judge who the best singer will be on Americas talent shows. We judge between car manufacturers on what is the best car etc. We judge, we judge, we judge, it’s a common characteristic of our lives. However everywhere you go you can constantly hear the same response when it comes to judging……… “Judge not, that ye be not judged?” Mathew 7;1 Your adversary the devil continues to spread this lie. Why? because he wants close th edoor to righteous judgement and not point out his servants of sin. This verse in Matt 7:1 is taken out of context as others and has placed guilt upon many honest people who would normally point out sin as the see it. This guilt trip is one trip I refuse to go on. This is one I will not take and you shouldn’t take it as well. Sin is sin and if you are sinning and I point it out I’m not going to feel guilty about it. When you read Matthew 7:1 in context it says it is ok to judge AFTER YOU HAVE FIRST JUDGED YOURSELF. Jesus did not make a blanket statement against judgment. He simply pointed out a RULE for judging. Now, the word “JUDGE” in its various forms (judgeth, judging, judgment, judges, etc) is found over 700 times in God’s word. One whole book of the Bible is titled “Judges” for it was written at a time when God raised up judges to lead His people. “The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of judgment.” (Psa. 37:30) A righteous person will talk of judgment. He will not REFUSE to judge. He will talk judgment. “Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken. Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.” (Amos 5:14-15) How can you hate the evil and love the good if you refuse to judge? You can’t. You are SINNING when you refuse to judge. Our generation is well described in Isaiah 59:8: “The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goes therein shall not know peace.” People have refused to judge, so there is no peace. Paul said in I Corinthians 1:10 to “. . . be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” Why would Paul make such a statement if judging is wrong? In I Corinthians 2:15 Paul says, “But he that is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” Judging is not a sin; judging is a characteristic of being a spiritual person! Satan has been lying to us, hoping that we will NOT judge, because he knows that the right kind of judgment PLEASES God and betters our lives and Christian service. Someone says, “But should we judge PEOPLE?” Yes, we certainly should. Paul actually REBUKES the Corinthians for NOT judging: “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?” (I Cor. 6:1-5) If judging is wrong, then Paul needs to confess and repent for misleading these Christians! He clearly told them to JUDGE PEOPLE. If judging people is wrong, how can we obey Romans 16:17-18? II Corinthians 6:17? II Timothy 3:5-6? I John 4:1? Friend, if judging is wrong, then God has contradicted Himself and His words cannot be trusted! Notice Malachi 3:18: “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serves God and him that serves him not.” WOW! Does that sound like it is wrong to judge? What about Revelation 2:2? ” I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:” Why would the Lord be pleased with these Christians if judging was wrong? Is it not impossible to find someone a “liar” without judging them? If the Bible is clear about anything, it is clear about the importance of judging on a regular basis in order to properly serve and honor God. To ignore this fact is to ignore all of the Scripture just presented and also the rest of the Bible. God expects us to judge. God’s Rules for Judging Now I do not wish to imply that we should spend all of our time judging. Sometimes people judge when they have no business doing so. In John 7:24 Jesus tells us to judge RIGHTEOUS judgment. This can only be done by following the rules that God has established in His word. Here follow seven good rules from Scripture: Judge Scripturally- Isaiah 8:20 says, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Our standard is God’s word, not our feelings, our traditions, or our opinions. Right and wrong should always be determined by God’s word. Don’t Judge When God’s Word Is Silent If God’s word is silent about a subject, then you may not have to judge at all. Don’t rush to judgment on an issue when the Bible says very little or is silent about it. Don’t make more of a matter than God makes of it. A good example of this is found in Colossians 2:16: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holiday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:” That is, these are not subjects of great importance today, so let’s not make these great issues of judgment. Pray for Good Judgement Ability When Solomon received his kingdom he asked God to “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” (I Kings 3:9) James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraids not; and it shall be given him.” We should pray for good judgment ability. Don’t Respect Persons Proverbs 24:23 says, “These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.” Treat all parties fairly without favoring anyone, such as family members or friends. A truly fair judge is blind and deaf to any outer influence. (Isa. 42:1, 19-21) Judge in Truth Do not judge another when you do not have all the relevant facts. Jeremiah 5:1 says, “Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executes judgment, that seeks the truth; and I will pardon it.” A true judge is one who seeks the truth. If you must judge, be sure and get all the facts. A Japanese proverb says to “search seven times before you judge.” Judge Mercifully Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:2: “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” You’ll reap what you sow (Gal. 6:7-8). If you are swift and harsh in judging others, then God will see to it that you receive the same from others. Has God not been very merciful to you, even though you deserved it not? Likewise, you should exercise mercy toward others. Don’t Forget to Judge Yourself I Corinthians 11:30-31: “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” If you are a true Christian, then you belong to God. You are God’s child. If you refuse to judge and improve yourself as a child of God, then God will take it upon Himself to judge you. Many of the troubles that we face in life are nothing more than God’s way of judging us since we often neglect to judge ourselves. Wouldn’t it be amazing if every Christian actually took time to judge themselves before judging anyone else? In Matthew 7:4-5, Jesus says, ” Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” A good judge will not fail to judge himself. Speaking The Truth In Love!