We’ve all experienced indecision at one time or another. Some people are indecisive by nature. Generally, I’m not one of those people. In fact, I tend to be overly opinionated about too many things. I have very strong opinions on the best food to eat, the best restaurants, the best this and the best that. Ask me about anything, and I’ll probably have an opinion.
Whether you order a burrito or a burger for lunch, it isn’t a life-altering decision. But there are decisions that are much more important in life. Your career choice is a big one. Whom you marry is a very important one.
But next to marriage, your biggest decision of all is what you do with Jesus Christ. There is no more important decision than that one.
In the New Testament, we find the story of an indecisive man, a man who let others do his thinking for him. He tried to find middle ground and appease a bloodthirsty, fickle crowd as well as his own troubled conscience. His name was Pontius Pilate.
The consummate politician, Pontius Pilate tried to make everyone happy and thus made the worst imaginable decision. It’s a decision he no doubt regretted for the rest of his life. He faced a question every person ultimately will face: What will you do with Jesus?
Pilate was a not a religious guy. He was sent to rule over the Jewish people, and he didn’t like his job. He probably wanted to go back to Rome where all the power and influence were. But he was sent to take on this task and ended up presiding over the most important trial in human history: the trial of Jesus Christ.
He wanted nothing to do with Jesus or with these religious debates. Normally around this time, Pilate would have been kicking back in his winter palace at Caesarea, sort of the Palm Springs of Israel.
But he had to handle this situation with Jesus, whom he had heard something about. At the time Pilate also was under surveillance by order of the emperor, because he was suspected of being a bad governor.
So there was Pontius Pilate, under a lot of pressure from Rome not to mess up and under a lot of pressure from the religious leaders due to past run-ins. That made for a very unusual situation when Jesus was brought before him. And like politicians often do, Pilate tried to find a compromise.
Pilate had heard it all – every lie, every excuse – but he didn’t hear it from Jesus. Why? Because Christ was innocent. In fact, Pilate was unnerved at Jesus’ calmness in the face of his own death. Jesus talked about truth to the man who did not believe in truth, saying “I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true” (John 18:37 NLT).
But Pilate said, “What is truth?” (verse 38 NLT).
Like a lot of people today, Pilate was a moral relativist. He probably didn’t believe in absolute truth. He was a pagan, Roman man, yet truth incarnate was standing before him. All Pilate wanted to do was get out of the situation.
I don’t think Pilate disliked Jesus in particular. Maybe he even admired him a little. But for Pontius Pilate, this was all about his political career. If he let Jesus go, it would anger the religious leaders and possibly result in some kind of riot. Then Rome would discipline him – maybe even execute him. For Pilate, Jesus was a political hot potato.
And Pilate was hearing a lot of voices on the matter. His wife had a dream and told him to have nothing to do with Jesus. The voice of the bloodthirsty multitudes cried out, “Crucify him!” And the voice of his own conscience, no doubt, attested to the innocence of Christ. Then he heard the voice of Jesus himself.
So what did Pilate do? He washed his hands in front of the crowd and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!” (Matthew 27:24 NLT).
Ultimately, when we stand before God, it won’t be a sin question; it will be a Son question. It won’t be a matter of whether we lived a good life and our good deeds outweighed our bad ones. It’s all about Jesus Christ, God’s provision for us to get into Heaven.
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