What Shall I Do With Jesus?

Gordon J. Pennock
Brookfield, Ill.

There is nothing which compares with the trial of Jesus Christ in all the records of court procedure. Whether we consider the matchless character of the prisoner, the prejudice of the prosecutors, the incompetence of the judge or the complete disregard of the verdict rendered it stands without a peer.

Pontus Pilate, the judge suspected that Jesus was innocent of the charges which were leveled against him. He was reasonably sure that he was only a victim of envy and hatred. In fact, he received a warning form his wife who said, "Have nothing to do with that righteous man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him" (Matt. 27:19). And the meekness of the prisoner before him strongly suggested that he was being falsely charged. When Pilate asked him, "Art thou the king of the Jews?" Jesus replied, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:33-36). By this he meant that his kingdom was not of this realm of darkness, hatred and injustice.

Upon hearing this testimony, Pilate went before the people and declared, "I find no fault in this man" (Luke 23:4). But this verdict served only to infuriate the multitude, and further charges were made. They also sought to intimidate Pilate by cautioning, "If you release this man, thou art not Caesar's friend" (John 19:12), thinking, no doubt, that the fear of political pressure would accomplish their purpose.

Still undaunted, Pilate next sought to release Jesus upon the basis of custom. Each year, during the Passover, some notorious Jewish criminal would be released by the roman. So Pilate called fo rone named Barabbas - a man who was guilty of robbery, murder, and insurrection. Placing him beside Jesus, he asked: "Which of the two will ye that I release unto you?" (Matt. 27:21). In thundering unison they cried out: "Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas" (Lk. 23:18). It was then that Pilate mournfully queried: "What then shall I do unto Jesus who is called Christ?" Again, the mob cried. "Let him be crucified." (Matt. 27:22).

Finally, Pilate called for a basin of water, and washing his hands in the presence of the multitude, said: "I am innocent of the blood of this righteoeus man; see ye to it." (Matt. 27:24). But this act did not remove his responsibility; it merely demonstrated his own weakness and hypocrisy. His duty was to execute justice and restrain men from lawlessness, but instead, he consented to the murder of a man in almost the same breath in which he declared him to be blameless. Certainly, Pilate must stand in the pages of history as one who was a time-serving politician who had not the courage to stand upon his convictions when challenged by those who despised law and justice. He will therefore be held in contempt by all who become familiar with his ignoble deed.

"What Shall I Do With Jesus?"

My dear readers: Pontius Pilate and the enemies of Jesus are not the only ones called upon to make a decision concerning this question. It poses a challenge to all of us today. Each of us must give an answer respecting it. It is a question which thrills with personal interest since it emphasizes the idea of personal responsibility to God. It confronts us regardless of our race, color, status or station in life. It demands our concern since it involves man's greatest need-his salvation. The Holy Spirit, through the apostle Peter, said: "In none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven that is given among men, wherein we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Jesus boldly asserted : "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my savings, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I spake, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). Surely in the light of these statements, we arc compelled to make a decision respecting "Jesus who is called Christ."

Different Decisions

It is now proper that we point out that there are three possible decisions which may be made concerning Jesus. In the first place, we may render the decision which rejects him. That was the decision made by the Jews who pressed their demands upon Pilate. In anger and bitterness they cried: "Away with him! Crucify him! Crucify him!" Although we may not be as emphatic as the avowed enemies of Jesus, it is possible for us to make the decision which rejects his person and his claims. Despite the fact that God hath given unto him "all authority in heaven and on earth" (Matt. 28:18), we may still say, "We will not have this man to reign over us.

It is furthermore possible for us to make the decision of Pilate-the one in which we refuse to assume our responsibility toward him. Although he was convinced of the innocence of Jesus, he did not have the moral strength to act upon his convictions and carry out his duty as he ought to have done. He sought to assume a role of neutrality, so far as action was concerned, by which ye hoped to appear blameless in the eyes of all. It is tragically true that multitudes of people in our time are pursuing a similar course. But, friends, we cannot be neutral toward Jesus! He refuses to approve such a course. He himself said: "He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth" ( Matt. 12:30). It may be that you are hesitating to make a decision in favor of Jesus because you fear to lose the applause and friendship of the world. If so, then you are marching along with it toward eternal ruin.

The third decision which may be made is, of course, the right one. It is the decision which accepts Jesus as the Son of the Living God. When one makes this decision he places himself and his life under the authority and the control of Jesus-he owns him as his king and the captain of his soul. The decision which accepts Christ as the one which deepens one's love, faith and trust toward him; it leads one to turn from sin by repentance as well as to descend into the water of baptism in which his sins are washed away and he becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus. Read : John 8:24; 20:30, 31 ; Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 17:30; 22:16; Rom. 6:1-4; Galatians 3:26, 27; 2 Cor. 5 :17.

Three thousand sinners made this decision on the day of Pentecost when Peter preached the first gospel sermon offering salvation through the risen Christ. He appealed to their hearts by saying: "Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified." Being pricked in their hearts, they cried out, "Brethren, what shall we do?" Peter then said: "Repent ye, and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins." "They then that received his word were baptized." (Acts 2:36-41 ).

This is the plan by which every sinner in the world must be saved, if saved at all. Have you made this-the most important of all decisions? If not, then we encourage you to do so.

Truth Magazine III:6, pp. 23-24
March 1959