A crowd surrounded Jesus as He said, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36). With these words Jesus challenged us to follow him.
Jesus taught on all the critical issues of life. John, closing his Gospel, wrote “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25).
For about three and a half years, Jesus lived life with His disciples (there were more than twelve disciples) traveling to different parts of the land, interacting with all kinds of people, teaching truth.
Jesus challenged the community and government leaders. In the supreme meeting between the Roman ruler Pilate and Jesus (John 18:33-40) Pilate asks Jesus, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37).
In the arrest, trial, death, and resurrection of Jesus, there are a handful of people I often think and wonder about.
Judas, one of the hand-picked disciples, was the treasurer of the group, betrayed Jesus.
Peter, another hand-picked disciple, denied knowing Jesus.
Pilate, offered a weak attempt to free Jesus, ultimately sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion.
Barabbas, a leader of the rebellion against Roman rule and a murderer was freed in exchange for Jesus.
Gamaliel, a Pharisee. The same group of religious leaders who falsely accused Jesus and encouraged Pilate to crucify Jesus. It is not known if Gamaliel took part in the false accusations of Jesus, but he later warned the other Pharisee’s against taking further action against the disciples (Acts 5:33-40).
Pharisees were religious leaders who knew the prophecies about the promised and long-awaited Savior, they knew the time was right for the Savior, much like the “Wise Men” from the east who came to worship Jesus, the religious leaders knew too. The Pharisees were blinded by their pride and greed.
Do you see yourself in any one of these people? Could you have done what these people have done?
Unfortunately, I see myself in each one of these people. It gives me no satisfaction to admit my guilt, my shortcomings, sin, or comparing myself to these people but truth is the equalizer.
If anyone of us believe we could not betray Jesus, we deny truth and our humanity. Every time we sin, we deny Jesus in our life. When we sin, we deny Jesus, we set truth aside for a lie or the illusion of satisfaction. Judas, perhaps not believing anything serious would happen to Jesus, betrayed Jesus for money, thirty pieces of silver. How often have I sold my soul for temporary and useless gain? You too?
Peter proudly and loudly said, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You. All the disciples said the same thing too” (Matthew 26:35). We think and believe we would never deny Jesus but has your life ever been threatened because of your belief in Jesus? If not, it soon will be in this country. Are you afraid to pray in public, over a meal, or in time of need? Do you refuse to perform certain tasks inside or outside the church? Do you visit the sick, help a beggar, help at the mission, visit a stranger in the nursing home or even a neighbor in need? Do you deny Jesus in these situations?
Pilate, while sentencing Jesus to be crucified, knowing He was guilty of no crimes, ceremoniously washed his hands in water, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves” (Matthew 27:24).
Like Pilate, we lie to ourselves about our sin. You may attend church, read your Bible, do good, give money to church, and help those in need – but these actions are no different than Pilate washing his hands in water – our guilt remains. We did it, we said it, we thought it and the only way to be forgiven, to have clean hands, is to recognize Jesus hanging on the Cross for our guilt and ask for forgiveness.
While we put Jesus on the Cross, Jesus made it possible for us to have clean hands, a whole heart, and a holy spirit.
Though the world is falling apart and the end is coming soon, the equalizer is still at work in the world and in our hearts.