What Shall I do with Jesus?
• Important questions for life are found all through God’s word. These questions have eternal consequences for each one of us and deserve our attention. (TEXT CALL)
• Nothing is worse than injustice. Over the last several years we have watched high profile cases end in surprising ways. Like you, I have questioned some of the results, but one thing is certain: in none of these cases have you and I received the complete & undiluted facts that the jury possessed. Obviously, our information was only a part of what the jury had to consider. A verdict of innocent is a travesty of justice ONLY if the accused is guilty. Any death is bad & we expect family members & friends to want justice for the untimely & unjust death of a loved one. But to exact a penalty on an innocent person is just as horrible as the death.
• The plot of Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill A Mocking Bird” revolves around the courtroom trial of an innocent black man unjustly accused of raping a white woman. In spite of his innocence and in spite of the valiant efforts made by his attorney, Atticus Finch, the fate of the defendant, Tom Robinson, was uncertain in the hands of a prejudiced jury. This is a very tragic story. For nothing is quite as disturbing and causes our blood to boil as much as when the gavel of justice falls to squash the life of an innocent person.
• With these words, have now set the backdrop for our question today. Before we read, the story:
• Jesus and His disciples have walked and ministered together for 3 years or so. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, fed the multitudes, taught the masses, and He even raised the dead. He was kind & patient with all – well, not patient with everyone. There was a group to which He showed little patience & no deference. It was the ‘religious group.’ To read about His encounters with the Scribes, Pharisees, & other religious leaders is to see a side of Jesus we don’t care to see.
• Think about that: The very reason Jesus came was to bring new life, new hope, & a new future to all people, & the crowd was angry because of the evil leaders masquerading as godly.
• In our text these evil religious leaders have now had Jesus arrested on bogus charges, brought Him before Pilate, whipped the crowd up into an emotional frenzy, & demanded Jesus’ death. Now Pilate has seen through the plan of these religious people but he was a weak, appointed leader who was afraid for his own position so he really wanted to appease this crowd. He didn’t want Rome coming down on Him. So here’s the sad conclusion (read text).
• Pilate stands before the mob with a decision to make. What will he do? What can he do?
• Today, you stand before God with a decision to make? Pilate asks, “What am I to do with Jesus?” Your question, “What will you do with Jesus?” In a very pragmatic sense, I offer you some choices:
1. Will you do what’s popular? – This was the dilemma which faced Pilate. Think about his position: He held the powers of life & death in his hands. Dr. Luke tells us that 3 times Pilate pronounced Jesus innocent with the words, “I find no fault in this man.” The first time he rendered this judgment, the case should have been closed. Furthermore, Matthew tells us back in verse 23 that “Pilate knew it was out of envy that they delivered Jesus.” Even that wording tells us what the crowd or mob had expected – They wanted Jesus dead! Don’t miss this truth, that opinion is still the popular opinion today. ‘If Jesus were out of the picture, all would be well’ is the prevailing attitude. So I ask you, will you do what’s popular? There are 2 possibilities:
a) Reject Him – This is what the people in Jerusalem did. They listened to the leaders, they allowed them to exercise control over them, and they rejected Jesus. Mob means ‘mass of betrayers’. This week I read a quote which said, "Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side." Know what? The majority of people today are rejecting Jesus. Many outside the church reject who He is, what He did, and how He did it. They see Him as a fraud.
• Jesus is the dividing line. What you do with Jesus determine who & whose you are. This decision determine friends & family, life & death, as well as heaven & hell.
• I wonder if ‘inside the church’ we find those who reject Jesus–yet they do it a little more subtly. Instead of challenging who He is & what He wants, they simply ignore it. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my words.” That’s the litmus test. What will you do with Jesus?
b) Replace Him – In Jerusalem, they basically rejected Jesus so they replaced Jesus. “Pilate, you kill Jesus, but let Barabbas go. Seriously? When we read that story, we tend to be shocked that they would choose a notorious criminal be released back among them & kill the one who offered to heal, touch, forgive, and love. In my heat, I wonder today if we tend to replace Jesus in our lives. When we replace Jesus, we break the first commandment. Anything we raise to the level of Jesus becomes an idol for us. This past week I was pointed to a video by some of our people. Check this out. Consider how & with what we actually replace Jesus in our lives. (VIDEO) Let’s be clear; there is nothing wrong with football, golf, car-racing, or the like UNTIL & UNLESS it replaces the #1 place in our lives. How can Jesus be first when He only gets what’s left in your schedule, your money, your energy, and your efforts. What have you done or what will you do with Him? Will you simply follow what’s popular? Or will you do -
2. Will you do what’s prudent? – Prudent is not a word we use every day, although it probably should be. It means “acting with or showing care & thought for the future” & “being wise & careful in providing for the future.” Doing what’s popular is neither wise nor careful nor providing for your future. The popular is the expedient or better said, taking the path of least resistance. This week I read a quote which said, “The path of least resistance is what makes men & rivers crooked.” I offer you two options for Jesus in your life, which I believe, are Biblical, practical, & eternal.
a) Receive Him – John says, “As many as received Him, He gave the power to become Sons of God.”
• To receive Jesus is to recognize who He is, why He came, what He did, & what He can do for you!
• He is God’s one & only Son, He came to die on a sinner’s cross, He did die there for your sins & mine, & He can forgive your sins, cleanse your life, connect to you Holy God, & secure your place in heaven. As good as all that sounds, He can give you, new life & life to the fullest here and now!
• But you must receive Him. How? This new life begins in prayer -
b) Release Him – To return to Jerusalem, even in memory, is a little frightening because of the mirror image that I see today. Watch: Pilate stands before the crowd & shouts, “Who do you want me to release to you, Jesus or Barabbas?” The crowd responds, “Release Barabbas.” Think about this: Releasing Barabbas meant putting evil back in their midst while keeping God in chains. People will say that “No one can chain up God.” Fine. It God chooses to play the card of His sovereignty & power, then certainly nothing can stand against Him. He made this world with a word and He can destroy it just as quickly. However, that is not how He has chosen to work in this world. I am reminded that Jesus could not do many miracles in Nazareth, not because He lacked the power or desire, but because of the lack of faith of the people. In a real sense, they would not release Him to perform all the wonder of which He was capable.
• Know what I wonder? I wonder if the reason those who bear the name of Christ has lost their influence is because we really don’t want to simply release our Lord in our lives. We really don’t care to become ‘fanatics’ for Jesus. (A fanatic is simply a fan with an attitude). To release Jesus in our lives is to allow Him to control everything we do, every word we speak & every penny we spend by putting Him on the throng of our heart. In that position, He becomes first priority. We don’t ‘fit Him in’ to our daily lives, we build our lives around Him.
• What will you do with Jesus? Will you only do the popular (reject & replace) or will you be courageous & do the prudent (receive & release)? If you trust Him, He will do the heavy lifting.
A true story by Josh and Karen Zarandona
Brenda was a young woman who was invited to go rock climbing. Although she was very scared, she went with her group to a tremendous granite cliff. In spite of her fear, she put on the gear, took a hold on the rope, and started up the face of that rock. Well, she got to a ledge where she could take a breather. As she was hanging on there, the safety rope snapped against Brenda’s eye and knocked out her contact lens.
Well, here she is, on a rock ledge, with hundreds of feet below her and hundreds of feet above her. Of course, she looked and looked and looked, hoping it had landed on the ledge, but it just wasn’t there. Here she was, far from home, her sight now blurry. She was desperate and began to get upset, so she prayed to the Lord to help her to find it. When she got to the top, a friend examined her eye and her clothing for the lens, but there was no contact lens to be found. She sat down, despondent, with the rest of the party, waiting for the rest of them to make it up the face of the cliff.
She looked out across range after range of mountains, thinking of that Bible verse that says, "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth." She thought, "Lord, You can see all these mountains. You know every stone and leaf, and You know exactly where my contact lens is. Please help me." Finally, they walked down the trail to the bottom. At the bottom there was a new party of climbers just starting up the face of the cliff. One of them shouted out, "Hey, you guys! Anybody lose a contact lens?"
Well, that would be startling enough, but you know why the climber saw it? An ant was moving slowly across the face of the rock, carrying it on its back.
Brenda told me that her father is a cartoonist. When she told him the incredible story of the ant, the prayer, and the contact lens, he drew a picture of an ant lugging that contact lens with the words, "Lord, I don’t know why You want me to carry this thing. I can’t eat it, and it’s awfully heavy. But if this is what You want me to do, I’ll carry it for You." I think it would probably do some of us good to occasionally say, "God, I don’t know why you want me to carry this load. I can see no good in it and it’s awfully heavy. But, if you want me to carry it, I will."
• I implore you, don’t to the popular, act prudently today – receive Jesus and/or release Him in your life today.