Today you and I have the opportunity either for the first time or as a continual act of obedience to receive Jesus.

You may have heard it said that people who say yes to Jesus are weak. That faith is a crutch. But what we learn from the story of Pilate is that saying no to Jesus is actually the way of weakness. The bravest thing we can do is say yes to Jesus and acknowledge who he is.
We have entered the most difficult part of the Gospel narrative. The point where Jesus bears the weight of our sin, eventually leading to his death on the cross. This week we look at his trial before Pilate, which really isn’t a trial. What we see in Pilate, is a man who is afraid and fearful. A man who can find no fault in Jesus and yet is unable to free him for fear for his own future.
It’s interesting to me that the only thing that is remembered about Pilate is his fear. Caught in a moment too big for him, faced with the opportunity to free Jesus, he cowers to the crowds and to the pressure. Ultimately, I’m thankful Jesus did what he did; bearing the mocking and beating and rejection so that we could have freedom from our sin. But along the way, I can’t help but be reminded by the story of Pilate of what happens if we don’t respond to the invitation of Jesus.
In the end, Pilate attempts to make everyone happy, to try and keep himself as clear as he can from any responsibility, any blame, for what happens to Jesus. Instead, Pilate is left with a story of failure. When I read this story, I wonder what happened to Pilate after he’d passed Jesus along and the crowds had left and he was left alone with his own thoughts and reflections. Pilate had a rare opportunity to see Jesus, to speak to him and scripture makes it clear that he can find no fault in him. Yet he was unable to make the right decision and that had to haunt Pilate.
So, what about you? How do you respond to Jesus? For the next few weeks, we’ll be studying the crucifixion story. We will look straight into the face of death and sadness. We will be reminded of the cost Jesus paid so we could be free from sin and condemnation. We will be encouraged that because of what Jesus did, we don’t have to live in fear and shame like Pilate.
Pilate was faced with the truth of Jesus but chose the crowd instead. He saw Jesus for what he was but decided his personal comfort and career were more important than making the right decision. In the end, he’s remembered only as a fearful man who foolishly thought he could wash his own hands of his guilt, but he couldn’t.
Today you and I have the opportunity either for the first time or as a continual act of obedience to receive Jesus. We can claim Jesus as more and greater than our own story. We can live a life free of fear because we know that He is greater, He is victorious and His plan for us is greater than anything we could do for ourselves. If we acknowledge Jesus, unlike Pilate, then in our quiet moments we don’t have to live in fear and shame but rather with peace and joy. Yes, the crucifixion story is hard to read but when we do we are reminded that the creator of the universe loves us so much, He sent his son to give us life. When we say yes to Jesus, when we not only recognize who he is but claim the life that he offers, we are truly strong.

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