Saturday, April 13, 2013

an Easter message (a bit delayed...)

I mentioned in my last post that I had an Easter post all written out and ready to post...but then got a bit sidetracked by an email I read. Well, since then that Easter post has gotten changed a bit. I wonder how long it's going to take for me to start remembering that God's timing is way better than my own? So, this isn't really the post I meant to write, but maybe it is the one I was meant to write...

"What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" asked the governor.
They all answered, "Crucify Him!"
"Why? What crime has He committed?" asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify Him!"
(Matthew 27: 22 & 23)

When Jesus was brought before Pilate, the governor had a decision to make--what would he do with Christ?

Pilate had listened to the chief priests and elders question Jesus. He watched as accusations were hurled at this man, a man who "had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him" (Isaiah 53:2), a man who simply stood and said nothing in response to their accusations. Mathew tells us that Pilate was amazed, and I can see why. This man was being accused of crimes punishable by death, yet He wasn't pleading His case.

As the governor of Judea, Pilate had a decision to make. In John we are told that Pilate tried at least three times to tell the Jews that Jesus was innocent. It seems he was trying to do the right thing with Jesus

Then, something changed.

Pilate, as the governor of Judea, was charged with keeping the peace between the Roman government he was part of and the Jews he was governing. Faced with a crowd demanding Jesus be crucified, Pilate gave in.

He tried to act like it wasn't his choice. He told the Jews that they could do what they wanted with this man called Christ, but he was going to wash his hands of the whole matter. The Jewish leaders could kill a man Pilate knew was innocent, but Pilate said he wouldn't be responsible for it.

Pilate was faced with a choice, and he chose to do nothing.

Each one of us faces that same question: "What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?"

This is where this post gets a little harder for me to write.

The other day I was grading papers with the professor I grade for and another grad student. The conversation somehow turned to one student, a young man who signs his emails with a different Bible verse each week and who passed out cards with messages of God's love to all his professors and classmates as Valentines. They were talking about how strange they thought it was that he would do something like that, talking about how they wondered if he realized others who didn't share his faith might find his forwardness offensive.

I should have spoken up. I should have stood up for a young man brave enough to stand up and speak out, a young man so desperate for others to know the God he serves that he is willing to face the ridicule of those same people he is trying to reach. I should have told them that I thought it was amazing this young man could walk into a college physics department and not be afraid of how they might react to his message of love.

Instead, I sat silently.

"What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?"

In that moment, I made the same choice as Pilate. I chose to wash my hands of the matter, pretending that not standing up wasn't the same as condoning their criticism.

You see, choosing to do nothing, to say nothing, is choosing to go along with the crowd demanding Jesus be crucified.

I know I'll be faced with this question many more times throughout my life, just like everyone else will be. It isn't a one time decision we make; it is a daily question we need to ask ourselves, a choice we get to make over and over again. This time I made the wrong choice, but lucky for me my God is the God of second...and third...and 1,593,827th chances.

And He forgives me when i fail and He gives me the gentle prompting to answer that question again, daily, with no regard for how I answered it in the past:
"What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?"

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