"What Shall I Do with Jesus?"
When Jesus was brought before Pilate, the governor found no guilt in him. Hoping to get the problem off his hands, Pilate invoked his Passover custom of releasing a prisoner of the Jews’ choosing. He offered them either Jesus or Barabbas, a rebel and murderer. The people demanded the release of Barabbas. Pilate said, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” We all know the rest of the story.
Ever since, people have had to ask themselves the same question. Jesus’ teaching is profound, his claims are astounding, his historical reality is undeniable. So “What shall I do with Jesus?”
■ Try to be neutral? That’s what Pilate did. Seeing that the crowd would riot if Jesus was not executed, Pilate “took water and washed his hands in front of the multitude, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to that yourselves’” (Matthew 27:24). Even today we speak of “washing our hands” of something, meaning we refuse to have any responsibility in the matter. But there really is no neutrality when it comes to Jesus. “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters” (Matthew 12:30).
■ Put him off? That’s what Felix did. Paul appeared before this governor and spoke about his faith in Christ. “And as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, ‘Go away for the present, and when I find time, I will summon you’” (Acts 24:25). The gospel moved Felix enough to know he must do something, but all he did was procrastinate. Countless people have been lost by responding as he did.
■ Forsake him? That’s what some disciples in Capernaum did. Jesus taught some things which they perceived as very difficult. “As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore” (v. 66). Like them, many today turn away from Jesus because they think his teaching is too demanding.
■ Deny him? That’s what Peter did. As Jesus stood on trial before the high priest Caiaphas, several people noticed Peter sitting in the courtyard and asked if he was one of Jesus’ companions. Three times he denied it: “I do not know the man!” (cf. Matthew 26:70,72,74). Many have followed Peter’s example of that night, following Jesus in fair weather, only to turn their backs on him when the going gets tough.
■ Sell him out? That’s what Judas did. For a measly thirty pieces of silver one of Jesus’ own apostles agreed to hand him over to those who sought his life (Matthew 26:14-16). Whatever keeps you from serving Jesus is, in effect, the price for which you’re willing to sell him out. For most people the price is remarkably low.
■ Crucify him again? That’s what happens when a Christian returns to a life of sin. “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened…and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame” (Hebrews 6:4-6).
■ Obey him. The apostles preached Christ to the crowd of Jews assembled at Pentecost. “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins’” (Acts 2:37-38). Three thousand of them did (v. 41).
The question is: What will you do with Jesus?