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“What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ” [1]
Almost every message I have heard from this text was directed to lost people.
That is certainly appropriate.
However, in our study today, I want to consider how this question applies not only to the lost, but also to each of us who bear the Name of Christ.
I will consider how the question applies to us who profess to represent the Master through providing oversight of the work of His churches.
Then, I will explore what we who are called Christians should do with Him.
Finally, the question Pilate posed to the mob howling for the head of the Master demands that I ask what the unsaved, “What will you do with the Son of God?”
The eternal question is: “What will you do with Jesus?” Just as His coming to earth divides time, so He is the dividing line between those who are alive and those who are dead.
In Him is life; outside of Him is only death.
Therefore, the question to those who are lost is essential if they will know God, enjoying the life that He offers.
There is no hope of heaven outside of this One who is identified as the Son of God.
Thus, to the lost, the question is posed, “What will you do with Jesus?”
For those who call themselves by His Name, they must know that even the rewards that are offered are dependent upon what we do with Him.
As the Christian walks in Him and obeys what He commands, she moves steadily toward pleasing the True and Living God.
Alternatively, when we walk according to our own desires, submitting to those base desires, we become indistinguishable from the world that is dying, even now rushing toward judgement.
Each Christian, therefore, must answer the question, “What will you do with Jesus?”
Those who stand behind the sacred desk will either fulfil the calling they have received, or they will dishonour Him whom they call Lord.
Either the preacher will faithfully declare the message that Christ Jesus has given in His Word, or the preacher will preach to satisfy the wicked desires of fallen people who seek only to affirm themselves in their fallen condition.
Again, the question each preacher must answer is, “What will you do with Jesus?”
Pilate sat on his judgement seat.
Jesus had been delivered to him for judgement.
The Jewish leaders were enraged; Jesus was receiving honour from the people—honour that they felt was rightfully theirs.
They concocted a charge of blasphemy, condemning Him to death.
However, they were powerless to execute their rage.
So, they drug Him before Pilate, the Roman governor, charging the Son of God with lèse majesté.
Pilate was shaken when he wife sent a message to him urging him to release Jesus.
“Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream” [MATTHEW 27:19].
Thus, much as politicians have done until this day, he tried to evade responsibility for his own decision.
He devised a plan that he felt would permit him to avoid making a decision.
It was the custom of the governor to release one prisoner at the time of the Passover.
Pilate offered to release to them either of two prisoners—the most heinous criminal then in custody or Jesus of Nazareth.
The mob demanded that Barabbas be released and they howled for the blood of Jesus.
When Pilate attempted to reason with them, asking what crime He had committed that merited punishment, together they cried out, “Let Him be crucified!”’
Pilate was now faced with a dilemma—he could either do what was right, or he could do what was convenient.
Either he could align himself with the Righteous One, or he could go along with the baying mob, “The governor again said to them, ‘Which of the two do you want me to release for you?’
And they said, ‘Barabbas’” [MATTHEW 27:21].
At this point, Pilate weakly attempted one final time to extricate himself from the morass into which he had sunk, “Pilate said to them, ‘Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?’
They all said, ‘Let him be crucified’” [MATTHEW 27:22]!
The corollary is given in the verses that follow.
“When Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’
And all the people answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’
Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified” [MATTHEW 27:24-26].
Pilate’s rationalisation was that he was incapable of swaying the mob to act with integrity, so he was prepared to deliver Jesus for momentary and transient peace.
The governor’s capitulation was attended by a scene so bizarre as to be almost unbelievable.
The very people who professed to be living in anticipation of Messiah’s Advent now cried out for Messiah’s blood.
To this day, momentary peace is still preferred over righteousness in society.
Pilate thought he could wash his hands of the sordid business, laying blame on the maddened mob incited by the religious leaders.
However, whenever someone attempts to absolve herself of responsibility by claiming that someone else is to blame, she deceives herself.
You are responsible for yourself; you make your choice and you must accept responsibility.
When the lost refuse to follow the Christ, they must realise that He ceases to offer Himself as their Saviour and becomes at that moment their Judge.
When the Christian seeks to gratify his own fallen desires rather than obey the will of the Master, he must recognise that he will shortly give an answer for his action.
When the preacher preaches to please the howling mob rather to obey the Master, he must realise that he shall soon answer to the Son of God for his perfidy.
Let me speak supportively of preachers.
Preachers minister under intense pressure to conform to the expectations of parishioners.
Church members often are uncomfortable with a vigorous presentation of the Word.
They have multiple reasons for their discomfort.
Sometimes their discomfort is presented as noble and high-minded.
They want to see the church grow; therefore, they don’t want to offend visitors by being too pointed in the presentation of the Word.
Consequently, they are irate when the preacher speaks too plainly or when he appears too aggressive in presenting the call to faith.
At other times, the motivation for the discomfort of some church members is less noble.
Parishioners become so enmeshed in the cares of this dying world that they will not tolerate any threat to their comfortable existence.
They seek affirmation that they are in no danger; they want to be commended as valuable adjuncts to the ministry of the Master in this dying world.
They want all this at no cost, with no rejection from the denizens of the world, with no censure by the wicked.
They want to live as the world lives and yet be recognised as righteous.
Shall the preacher jettison Jesus, sacrificing Him to the demands of the howling crowd that occupies the church in this day while seeking affirmation and comfort?
Shall the preacher refuse to present the words of the Master that boldly thunder, striking terror in the heart of the wicked who hear Him as He speaks through the Word?
Shall the preacher endeavour to soften the harsh censure of sin demanded by the Master?
Or shall the preacher declare the truth of God, though it offends the delicate constitution of the modern worshipper?
Each time the preacher stands, he is presented with a choice—will he be true to the appointment he received from the Master?
Or will he pander to the earth dwellers that parade as followers of the lamb?
I need to speak of the call to service before the Master.
I fear it is not well understood in this day.
When the church needs a minister, how shall they go about the task of finding someone to occupy the pulpit?
Where shall the congregation look first?
Before answering that question, it is important to state that each assembly is responsible to be constantly praying that God will raise up His man from within the assembly.
The people should be constantly looking for that one whom the Master will appoint, prayerfully surveying those who are part of the Body so that as God works in the lives of His chosen warriors it will be apparent to the people what He is doing.
And the elders are responsible to seek out those whom the Master is raising up, being prepared to set these apart to service within the congregation.
This is modelled biblically.
For instance, when Paul opens his letter to Titus, he writes, “The reason I left you in Crete was to set in order the remaining matters and to appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.
An elder must be blameless, the husband of one wife, with faithful children who cannot be charged with dissipation or rebellion.
For the overseer must be blameless as one entrusted with God’s work, not arrogant, not prone to anger, not a drunkard, not violent, not greedy for gain.
Instead he must be hospitable, devoted to what is good, sensible, upright, devout, and self-controlled.
He must hold firmly to the faithful message as it has been taught, so that he will be able to give exhortation in such healthy teaching and correct those who speak against it” [TITUS 1:5-9 NET BIBLE].
This charge that was delivered to Titus is similar to the command issued to Timothy to be diligent in equipping those who will teach.
Paul wrote, “Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” [2 TIMOTHY 2:1, 2].
Since I have spoken of the qualifications for appointment to eldership when I read the passage from the Letter to Titus, permit me to emphasise this truth by directing you to supplement what was written there with that which is presented to Timothy.
“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.
Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?
He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.
Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil” [1 TIMOTHY 3:1-7].
Underscore this truth: the biblical qualifications for pastoral oversight deal exclusively with character and calling.
This is not how we find elders in the modern church.
Here, connections and credentials are paramount.
Consequently, when a contemporary congregation requires an elder, they appeal to a denominational serpent to send them a list of approved names.
Approval for inclusion on the list comes from the hindquarters; these individuals are hand-picked to be compliant with denominational directives.
Docility and pliability are vital to this approval.
The individuals named on the list are graduates of approved schools, disciplined in denominational doctrine and they bear the imprimatur of important bishops elected by the power-brokers insuring that they possess the desired qualities of conformity and compliance.
Thus, we accept the best thoughts of fallen man as superior to the revealed will of God! Rather than character and calling, we are offered connections and credentials.
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