Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What Will You Do With Jesus?

In chapter 18 of the book of John, we read about three people who had to answer the question, "What will you do with Jesus?"

We see Peter in the courtyard of the high priest while Jesus is being questioned, and later at the fire, warming himself. He has pledged his undying loyalty to Jesus, but Jesus has predicted Peter's betrayal. And Peter has stood the test. Having come to Jesus' defense in the garden (he had struck one of the men who had come to arrest Jesus, cutting off his ear) now he is standing by in the wings. But when identified as a follower of Christ, he denies knowing Jesus -- three times! Then the rooster crows, just as Jesus had said, and Peter is undone.

Rather than running, Peter realizes the truth of his own failure to live up to his promise to Jesus. He breaks down, weeping. He recognizes his own need for Jesus, and this moment becomes a turning point for him.

Seeing ourselves for who we are in the presence of God always leads to a crisis.

So how did Caiaphas, the high priest, and Pilate, the Roman governor, respond when they, too, were confronted by Jesus?

Matthew records that the chief priest and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus (26:59), so we know that the high priest was not too open to truth. In the midst of the questioning of Jesus, one of the officials struck Jesus in the face. "If I said something wrong," Jesus replied, "testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?" (John 18:23).

In the presence of Jesus, the high priest rejected the truth and sent Jesus on to Pilate.

Unlike Caiaphas, Pilate had no vested interest in this case. He tried to pass Jesus back to the Jews but when he was told that it was illegal for them to perform executions he questioned Jesus himself. In their dialog, Jesus said that He came "to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me" (John 18:37).

And Pilate's response? Standing face to face with Truth, Pilate, who found no fault in Jesus (18:38), turned Him over to the people to crucify! And he washed his hands in front of the crowd, declaring his own innocence, placing the blame on the Jews! (Matthew 27:24)

Three people, Peter, Caiaphas, Pilate -- all in the presence of Jesus. And three very different responses. Peter cried out with a heart broken by his own failure when faced with the truth. Caiaphas didn't want to know the truth. He refused it. Pilate didn't know the truth and rejected it when it was presented to him. And he justified himself for his complicity in Jesus' death.

Don't all responses to Jesus fall into one of these three categories? I think so. Accept. Refuse. Reject and make excuses. These are the responses people had to God's truth all through the Scripture and they are still the responses people have today.

How about you? What will you do with Jesus?

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