Guilty of Love in the First Degree

Sermon Date: July 18, 1976

Main Scripture Text: Matthew 27:22

Outline

Introduction

I. Life’s Great Question

A. It’s a Pertinent Question

B. It’s a Personal Question

C. It’s a Pressing Question

II. Pilate’s Privileges

A. He Was Confronted with Jesus

B. He Was Convicted Concerning Jesus

1. The Voice of Conscience

2. The Voice of a Loved One

3. The Voice of Jesus Christ Himself

III. Pilate’s Pressures

A. The Pressure of Public Opinion and Popularity

B. The Pressure of Possessions

C. The Pressure of Pride and Power

IV. Pilate’s Perversity

A. He Tried to Ignore Jesus

B. He Tried to Shift the Decision

C. He Tried to Simply Admire Jesus

D. He Tried to Get a Diversion

V. Pilate’s Pronouncement and Protest

Conclusion

Introduction

All right. Take your Bibles, please, if you will, and turn to Matthew chapter 27, verse 22. I want to speak to you this morning on this subject: “Guilty of Love in the First Degree.” I heard a gospel song, and I think that was a line, or the title—I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you anything about the song or its melody, but I could never get that thought out of my mind: Jesus Christ was adjudicated guilty of love in the first degree.

I. Life’s Great Question

Notice, if you will, in Matthew chapter 27, and verse 22, life’s great question: “Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus, who is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified” (Matthew 27:22).

A. It’s a Pertinent Question

A greater question could never be asked: “What shall I do with Jesus?” We’re not talking about another priest, another politician, another preacher, or another performer. We’re talking about Jesus, the Son of God. Answer this question right, and all is right. Answer this question wrong, friend, and all is wrong.

B. It’s a Personal Question

This question is a pertinent question, for it is about Jesus. This question is also a personal question: “What shall I do?” Now, I know there are some who would like to answer that question for others and others who would like to have someone answer it for them. But, the question is not, “Lord, what wilt Thou have others to do?” Or, not, “Lord, what will others have me to do?” But, “Lord, what shall I do with You?” And, “What do You want me to do for You?” It’s a personal question.

C. It’s a Pressing Question

And, not only is it a pertinent question—it’s about Jesus—and a personal question, but, my dear friend, it is a pressing question. It’s a question I’m going to put before you, right now. And, it’s a question that I’m going to demand that you answer before you leave.

And, by the way, you’re going to make a decision concerning Jesus before you leave, if you’ve not already done so. You’ll make a decision. Everybody will make a decision. You say, “Not me, Brother Rogers. You won’t get me to decide.” Well, you just decided not to decide, and that was your decision. You see, everybody’s going to make a decision. And, Jesus said: “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad” (Matthew 12:30). And, you’ll leave this auditorium, this morning, having made some kind of decision, if you’ve not already received Christ. You’ll either say “yes” or “no.” You’ll walk under the blood, or you’ll walk out over the blood; but, you will be faced, in this message, with Jesus Christ.

Because, you see, in this strange murder trial—and, by the way, it was a strange murder trial, because the murder had not yet taken place—first, they judged Jesus, and then, they murdered Him. In this strange murder trial, God so arranged it that not only was Jesus on trial before Pontius Pilate, but the Lord arranged it so that Pilate was on Scripture passage, you see here that God has given us, in the passage of Scripture that we’re going to study, a wonderful lesson. Just as Jesus stood before Pilate, Jesus now stands before you. And, as Jesus was on trial before Pilate, Jesus is on trial before you.

But, not only that—just as Pilate will one day be in Jesus’ hands, you, too, will one day be in Jesus’ hands. And, just as Jesus was on trial, we’re going to be on trial before the Lord Jesus Christ. The Scripture that I gave to you is a question that Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, asked: “What shall I do with Jesus, who is called the Christ?”

Now, there are three or four things I want you to see, this morning, as we look at this wonderful passage of Scripture. And, by the way, we’ll not simply stay in the Gospel of Matthew, but we’ll look in all of the Gospels concerning the trial of Jesus Christ.

II. Pilate’s Privileges

The first thing I want you to notice are the privileges that Pilate had—the wonderful, glorious privileges that Pilate had.

A. He Was Confronted with Jesus

Pilate was confronted with Jesus Christ. It is not as though Pilate had never heard of Jesus Christ. Pilate came face-to-face with Jesus Christ. And, I suppose, the most uncomfortable fact that Pilate had ever faced was Jesus Christ. And, you, like Pilate, are going to be brought face-to-face, one more time, with Jesus Christ.

Now, when Pilate was brought face-to-face with Jesus Christ, he had to answer the question: “What am I going to do with Jesus?” He had Jesus on his hands. Jesus was inescapable. Jesus was inevitable. Jesus was unavoidable. Pilate had Jesus on his hands. And, the question that came to Pilate is: “What am I going to do with Jesus?”

B. He Was Convicted Concerning Jesus

But, I want you to notice the privileges that Pilate had concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, because not only was he confronted with Jesus, he was also convicted concerning Jesus. There were strong voices that spoke to Pontius Pilate concerning Jesus Christ. And, I want you to notice some of the voices that spoke to Pilate.

1. The Voice of Conscience

First of all, there was the voice of conscience. Look in Matthew chapter 27 and verse 18. We’re talking about the voice of conscience. And, the Bible says (concerning Pilate): “For he knew that for envy they had delivered him” (Matthew 27:18). Now, Pilate was no fool. A man doesn’t get to be the procurator, the governor, of a province, under Rome, unless he had brains. Pilate was an understanding man. He was a thinking man. He was no fool. Pilate knew that Jesus Christ was on trial for trumped up charges. And, the Bible says there were no ifs, ands, or buts—no maybes about it. Pilate knew the reason that the Jews wanted Jesus Christ crucified. (I’m talking about the Jewish religious leaders when I say the Jews.) “He knew that for envy”—because they were envious—“they had delivered Jesus Christ” (Matthew 27:18). He had heard every accusation; he had listened to every witness, and his conscience thundered in his soul. Pilate heard the voice of conscience.

Pilate knew that every accusation against Jesus Christ was false. And, I tell you, this morning, if you will listen to what your conscience tells you—if you will listen to what your reason tells you—you will have to admit that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. For, Christ is that “Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). And, any man who will listen to the inner light that God has given him will say that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

2. The Voice of a Loved One

But, not only did he have the voice of reason and the voice of conscience, there was also the voice of a loved one. Pilate’s own wife had spoken to him. Look in Matthew chapter 27 and verse 19: “When he was seated on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that righteous man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him” (Matthew 27:19).

Now, not only did God speak to Pilate’s reason, and not only did God speak to Pilate’s conscience, but He also spoke to Pilate’s wife. And, Pilate’s wife spoke to him. You see, God was so good that He sent a messenger. He sent someone—someone that Pilate loved and someone that Pilate trusted—to say, “Be careful. Don’t you be guilty of harming this One called ‘Jesus.’ He is a righteous man. He is a just man.” “Have thou nothing to do with that righteous man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him” (Matthew 27:19). And, God has put the prayers and the solemn entreaties of loved ones on your path to blockade your road to Hell.

3. The Voice of Jesus Christ Himself

But now, listen: Pilate heard the voice of conscience. He knew that Jesus was the Son of God. He heard the voice of reason. He knew men. He heard the voice of a loved one. But, there was another voice that spoke to Pilate that day, and it was the voice of Jesus Christ Himself.

Leave Matthew, and go to the Gospel of John with me, for a moment, and look in John chapter 18, and begin in verse 35—John 18, and verse 35: “Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?”—now, Pilate, like a good judge, is trying to determine what the charges are against the Lord Jesus Christ—“what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king”—now, notice this clear declaration—“To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice” (John 18:35–37).

Jesus Christ gave Pilate a clear declaration. It seems that Pilate asked an honest question. And, you’ll find out something about the Lord Jesus Christ: Anytime anybody asked Jesus Christ a trick question, they never got a straight answer from Jesus. When they would try to trap Him, Jesus answered a question with a question. But now, Pilate has asked Jesus a straightforward question: “What have you done? What are the charges against You? Are You a king?” (John 18:35). And, Jesus gives a clear, bold declaration to Pontius Pilate. Pontius Pilate was not without a witness. Pontius Pilate had been spoken to. What privileges he had!

Listen: There was the voice of conscience. There was the voice of reason. There was the voice of a loved one. And, there was the voice of Deity Itself. Jesus Christ spoke to Pontius Pilate. And, Pilate was convicted. I believe, with all of my heart and all of my soul, that Pilate was convicted that Jesus was the Christ.

Now, Jesus is speaking to every one of you, today. And, as I read this Word to you, and as I read the words of Jesus to Pilate, they’re just as fresh and just as real to you, as though Jesus Christ were standing in this pulpit, this morning. And, you—every one of you—have heard the voice of conscience. You’ve heard the voice of reason. You’ve heard the voice of loved ones. And, you’ve heard the voice of the Word of God itself.

Pilate had some wonderful privileges; but he had no more privileges than everybody who is sitting in this auditorium, or those of you, dear friend, who are listening to me this morning on television.

III. Pilate’s Pressures

But, not only did he have some privileges—listen—Pilate had some pressures. Because, the devil doesn’t give up anybody or anything without a fight. And, I want you to notice the pressures that were on Pilate. Because, Pilate struggled to make a decision. And, why was it that Pilate would not adjudicate Jesus Christ innocent? Why was it that he would not do as his wife said and have nothing to do with that righteous man, so far as judging Him?

What were the pressures that were brought to bear on Pilate’s soul? May I tell you that I believe that Pilate is so representative of all mankind and that the same pressures that were brought to bear on him are the universal pressures that are brought to bear on every man, when he tries to answer this question: “What must I do with Jesus, who is called the Christ?”

A. The Pressure of Public Opinion and Popularity

The first pressure that Pilate felt was this: It was the pressure of public opinion and popularity. Turn to the Gospel of Mark, for a moment. And, we’re going to be in all the Gospels, so lick your fingers. And, look, if you will please, in Mark chapter 15 and verse 15; the Bible says: “And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified” (Mark 15:15). You just underscore that phrase: “willing to content the people” (Mark 15:15). He had to choose between the crowd and Jesus Christ. He had to choose between the pressures of public opinion, popularity, and Jesus Christ. And so, the Bible says, he chose the crowd, and he crucified Jesus Christ (Mark 15:15).

There are some of you high schoolers that, if you stood for Jesus Christ, you know it would go wrong with the crowd. There are some of you businessmen—you run with a dirty-talking, hard-drinking, double-dealing crowd. And, you know that if you took a stand for Jesus Christ, you know that you’d fall out of favor with that crowd. And, you know there’s a certain crowd that wants you to conform, that presses you in. And, the same pressure that Pilate felt, so long ago, you’re still feeling, this very moment.

B. The Pressure of Possessions

Now, secondly, not only did Pilate feel the pressure of public opinion and popularity, but the second pressure—and it was very real on him—was the possessions that he had. The pressure of possession, and position, and pleasure. Notice in John 19, verse 12. Turn to John 19, verse 12. The Bible says, in John chapter 19 and verse 12: “And from then on Pilate sought to release him.” That is, Pilate really wanted to let Jesus go. He really did not want Jesus to be crucified. “From then on Pilate sought to release him; but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend; whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar” (John 19:12).

Now, Jesus had said that He was a king but His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36). But, the Jews said to Pilate, “Now Pilate, Caesar is the one who runs everything around here. And, if you let Jesus Christ go unpunished, we’re going straight to Caesar, and we’re going to report that you have become the friend of another king. And, everybody knows there is but one king, and his name is Caesar.” And, of course, it didn’t take Pilate long to figure out what would happen. If word got back to Caesar that Pilate had made friends with a man who claimed to be a king, then Pilate would lose his job.

Now, I want you to listen very carefully. Do you see what determined Pilate’s conduct? You see, he wanted to release Jesus, but there was a blackmail—there was a threat—hanging over his head. Whatever buttered Pilate’s bread determined his conduct. You see, he had a position; he had certain pleasures; and he had certain possessions that he didn’t want to lose.

Now, notice how he’s being squeezed into a mold. He’s been spoken to—there’s the voice of conscience; there’s the voice of reason; there’s the voice of a loved one; and there’s the voice of Deity. The Holy Spirit is thundering in his heart, in his mind, and in his soul. He’s really convinced, concerning Jesus Christ. There are the privileges. But now, there are the pressures. And, the pressures are getting hard. He wants to please the people. Everybody likes to be liked. And, he wants to please his superior. He wants to keep what he has. He doesn’t want to put anything in jeopardy.

You say, “Well, what does that have to do with me? I don’t have any king over me. I’m not going to lose my job.” No, but you’d be surprised how many … And, some of you may lose your job. Some of you may be working in places you have no business working. And, if you take a stand with Jesus Christ, that might be the end of that job.

But, you know why some men won’t give their hearts to Jesus? Let’s be frank. Have you ever heard anybody say, “All they want down there, at that church, is money?” Have you ever heard anybody say anything like that? “Money! Money! Money!” The truth of the matter is, I don’t preach enough about money. God is convicting me about that, so you can get ready. I don’t preach enough about money, because I’ve got to preach the whole counsel of God, and the Bible has a lot to say about money.

But, did you know that there are some men, who are so mean and so lowdown, that they’re afraid if they gave their heart to Jesus Christ it might affect their pocketbook? That’s the truth. They think that if they gave their heart to Jesus Christ it might affect their Sunday mornings, when they want to golf, and fish, and drink embalming fluid by the six-pack. And, they just have an idea that Jesus would, somehow, take away from them, rather than adding to them. And, there is a pressure—a tremendous pressure—of position, and possessions, that keep some men from coming to Jesus Christ and some women from coming to Jesus Christ.

C. The Pressure of Pride and Power

But, not only was there the pressure of public opinions and popularity, and not only was there the pressure of possessions and position, but there was a third pressure on Pilate, and a very real pressure that people are still feeling, in this day and this age. And, it was something that Pilate probably was not even aware of. But, it was the pressure of pride—the pressure of pride and of power.

Look, go back, again, to John chapter 19, and begin reading in verse 8. And, listen to Pilate, as he talks with Jesus: “When Pilate, therefore, heard that saying, he was the more afraid”—now, notice Pilate is really under conviction. His conscience is thundering in his soul. He was more afraid. And now, notice in verse 9—“And he went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, From where art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer” (John 19:8–9). Isn’t that interesting? Before, Jesus gave him a straightforward answer. He asked Jesus a question, and Jesus answered him. But, Pilate didn’t live up to the light that he had. Pilate let these other pressures work on him. And now, he asks Jesus a question. Not an answer—not a word—he got from Jesus Christ.

Doesn’t Jesus want him to know? Listen, my dear friend. Jesus wants anybody to know, and anybody who comes with an honest question is going to get an honest answer. But, notice: He “went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, From where art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer” (John 19:9).

Now, I want you to notice, as this man reeks with pride. Look in verse 10. Notice Pilate. Notice him, as he lets his chin jut out. Notice his arrogance. Notice his swagger: “Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me?”—“Ha, why,” he’s saying, “don’t you realize whom you are talking to? Don’t you know who I am?”—“Speakest thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above; therefore, he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. And from then on Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out” (John 19:10–12).

But, I want you to notice Pilate’s attitude. I want you to notice how arrogant he is. Notice as he swaggers. Notice as he says, “Don’t you know whom you are talking to? Don’t you know what a big man I am? Don’t you know what an important man I am? I have the power to release you.” Jesus said, “The only power you have is the power I let you have” (John 19:11).

Now, this morning, did you know that you have power to crown or crucify Jesus? Did you know that you have the power to say “yes” or “no”? But, don’t let that go to your head. You see, the only power that you have is the power He lets you have. You can, when the invitation is given, say, “I’m the captain of my faith. I’m the one who is running the show around here. Adrian Rogers, the Bible, Jesus Christ, or nobody else is going to tell me what to do.” And, you draw yourself up in your arrogance and sulk right out of this place to your doom, saying, “I’m the one who is running my life.” Me! Big me! That was Pilate’s problem!

Pilate had three pressures—tremendous pressures—that were squeezing him: public opinion, position, and pride. And, many a man has been escorted to Hell by these three enemies. And, pride, most of all, has escorted many to Hell, bound in the cold steel chains of ego that have been forged on the anvil of a hard heart.

IV. Pilate’s Perversity

Now, the third thing I want you to notice: Not only do I want you to see his privileges, and not only do I want you to see his pressures, but I want you to see his perversity. I want you to see what Pilate tried to do. I want you to see how Pilate tried to evade the issue. I want you to see all of the cunning things that Pilate did to keep from saying “yes” to Jesus Christ.

A. He Tried to Ignore Jesus

You see, Pilate had Jesus on his hands. He had to do something. As I say, you’re going to have to do something with Jesus. Pilate had the inescapable, unavoidable, inevitable Jesus on his hands. And so, I want you to notice three or four things that he tried to do. The first thing that he tried to do was simply to ignore Jesus Christ—just to ignore Him, just to hope that He wouldn’t have to answer the question at all. Look in John chapter 18 and verse 31—very interesting—John chapter 18, verse 31. Here’s what Pilate said, when the Jews brought Jesus to him: He said: “Take ye him, and judge him according to your law” (John 18:31). Now, what was he saying, in effect? In effect, he was saying, “Look, don’t bother me with this. You handle that. I’ve got more important things to do.” And, Pilate thought that maybe he could just simply ignore the whole issue.

Maybe you think, “Now look, Adrian Rogers, you just do whatever you want with Jesus, and I’ll do whatever I want with Jesus. Just leave me alone. You just, you do what you want with Him, but you leave me alone. But, friend, I’m presenting Jesus Christ to you. And, as Pilate had Jesus on his hands, you have Jesus on your hands. And, you may think that you have more important things to do, but, one of these days, those things that you think are so important won’t be so important. You may not walk down this aisle, but they’ll roll you down this one or another one at the funeral home, somewhere. And, some preacher, or somebody else, will stand over you and say a few words. And, it won’t matter, then, to you how much money you have in the bank. It really won’t even matter to you whether the part in your hair is straight, dear friend. Somebody else will comb it for you.

But, I tell you what will matter: What you’ve done with Jesus Christ is going to matter, then. Pilate said, “You take Him; you judge Him according to your own law.” So, first of all, Pilate just thought maybe he could ignore Jesus. But, that didn’t work, because the Jews said, “We want the death sentence, and we don’t have the right to execute the death sentence.” And, by the way, this morning, friend, you’re going to execute the death sentence, if you’re not careful. You’re going to crown or crucify Jesus.

B. He Tried to Shift the Decision

All right. Secondly, not only did Pilate try to ignore Jesus, but he also tried to shift the decision to somebody else. He tried to get somebody else to make the decision. Look in Luke chapter 23, for a moment—Luke chapter 23 and verse 6: “When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean. And as soon as he knew that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time. And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he was desirous to see him for a long time, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. Then he questioned him in many words; but he answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. And Herod, with his men of war, treated him with contempt, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe”—and, notice verse 11—“and sent him again to Pilate” (Luke 23:6–11).

You see, Pilate was like a man that had a boomerang, and bought a new one, and killed himself trying to throw the old one away. He just, he couldn’t get rid of Jesus. He said, “Well, now, if Herod is ruling things up in Galilee, and Herod’s in town, send Him over to Herod. Let Herod judge Him. Let somebody else make this decision. I don’t want to make this decision.” Pilate sent Him to Herod, the king of Galilee, and Herod sent Him back.

You see, here is a decision that God has arranged so that it cannot be placed on the shoulders of anyone else. Your wife cannot make it for you. Your parents cannot make it for you. Your pastor cannot make it for you. Sin is a personal matter, and so is salvation. There are some of you who say, “Well, the little wife takes care of the religion in our home.” Well, then, the little wife is going to Heaven, and you’re going to Hell. Nobody can make this decision for you.

C. He Tried to Simply Admire Jesus

The next thing that Pilate tried to do: If he couldn’t ignore Jesus and if he couldn’t shift the decision, he did what some of you are going to try and get away with doing, this morning. He sought simply to admire Jesus.

Look in Luke chapter 23 and verses 14 and 15: Pilate “said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people; and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things of which ye accuse him. No, nor yet Herod; for I sent you to him, and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done by him” (Luke 23:14–15).

Now, Pilate tries to say some nice words about Jesus Christ and let it rest at that. “I’ve examined Him. There is nothing wrong with Him. He’s all right. I tip my hat to Him.” You see, what was wrong with Pilate? See, Pilate’s under tremendous pressure. He doesn’t want to take a side with Jesus. But, he doesn’t want to be against Jesus. He just kind of thinks that he can stay right in the comfortable middle. He thinks that he can say nice things about Jesus. He thinks that he can admire Jesus without acknowledging that Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He admired Jesus, but he did not stand with Jesus.

I want to tell you something, friend. And, I want to say it with love, but I want to say it with unction: I had rather be a pagan in the heart of some uncivilized country that had never heard the name of Jesus than to be a person who will sit in Bellevue Baptist Church, in an air-conditioned auditorium, on an upholstered seat, under a chandelier, who simply admires Jesus Christ. I mean that. The greater the light, the greater the judgment. And, the hottest part of Hell is reserved for those who admire Jesus but won’t stand with Him.

Now, if Jesus is a fake, and a fraud, and an impostor, why don’t you say so, get out of here, and quit playing church? But, if Jesus Christ is the Lord of lords and the King of kings, why don’t you stand with Him and live for Him? Don’t you tip your hat to Jesus Christ. Don’t you say nice things for Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ would rather have you out and out against Him than pretending to be on His side, flattering Him, without surrendering to Him.

D. He Tried to Get a Diversion

Pilate tried to ignore Him. “You judge Him.” Pilate tried to let Herod make the decision. But, Jesus came back. Pilate just simply tried to say nice things about Jesus Christ. But, that was not enough. And then, Pilate thought, well, maybe he could get a diversion.

And so, look, if you will, in Matthew 27. And, I’m reading beginning in verse 15: “Now at that feast the governor was accustomed to releasing unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. Therefore, when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus, who is called Christ? For he knew that for envy they had delivered him” (Matthew 27:15–18).

Old Pilate—you’ve got to give him credit for trying. Pilate says, “Well, maybe if I can get everybody’s mind on Barabbas, they’ll forget about Jesus.” And so, he’s trying some sort of a diversion. He’s trying to get everybody else interested: “Let’s let the Jesus issue drop for awhile, if we can. Let’s everybody think about Barabbas, and forget about this Jesus.” So, he brings up another question.

You’d be amazed, dear friend, how many of you are trying the diversion of sex, and liquor, and business, and education, and clothes, and car, and trips, and vacations, and yards, and flowers, and furniture, and everything else. Your mind stays so busy that you will not allow yourself to think. And, after this, the question: “What must I do with Jesus, who is called the Christ?”

V. Pilate’s Pronouncement and Protest

Now, we have noticed his privileges. We’ve noticed his pressures. We’ve noticed his perverseness, as he tries to twist and as he tries to, somehow, get himself out. Now, I want you to notice his pronouncement and his protest. I want you to notice—in Matthew chapter 27, verse 24—I want you to notice what he has the audacity to do. Notice in Matthew chapter 27, verse 24: “When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this righteous person. See ye to it” (Matthew 27:24). This was his protest, and this was his pronouncement: “I’m innocent. Don’t anybody blame me. You can take Him. You can crucify Him. But, my hands are clean”—this is what he said (Matthew 27:24).

But, I want you to know that oceans of water could not wash away Pilate’s guilt. Now, Pilate did not lay the lash upon Jesus’ back. Pilate did not spit in the face of Jesus. Pilate did not hold the hammer that drove those painful spikes into Jesus’ hands. He simply tried to remain neutral. He did nothing. And, eternity has exposed the utter folly, showing that Pilate’s indecision was the worst decision of all. For, Jesus had already said: “He that is not with me is against me” (Matthew 12:30). Pilate could not wash his hands of Jesus Christ.

And, as Pilate stood there with Jesus before him, he failed to realize that he, too, was before Jesus. And, when the gavel sounded that allowed Jesus to be crucified, there was another gavel that sounded in Heaven, and Pilate was condemned. Poor Pilate! He was so foolish! Because, it was not very long, as he sought position, that the gavel that he fondled was held in the hands of someone else. And, it was not long until his royal robes adorned the back of someone else. Pilate sought popularity, but the people rose up against him. He died in exile of suicide. Poor pitiful Pilate!

Conclusion

Pilate made the worst decision of all. And, the things he sought the most—position and popularity—he lost. But, worse than that, he lost his soul.

Bow your head with me in prayer. Every head bowed; every eye closed. Here’s the question—are you listening? Are you listening? Here’s the question: “What will you do with Jesus, who is called the Christ?” You’ve had some wonderful privileges. You feel some great pressures. You may try to get out of it, but you’re going to make a decision concerning Jesus. The question I ask you is: “What will you do with Jesus?” Neutral you cannot be. Someday your heart will be asking, “What will He do with me?”

Father, I pray that You will seal this message to our hearts, today. And, I pray that men, women, boys, and girls will say, “I will receive Jesus. I will accept Him. I will confess Him. And, I will live my life in His service.” Father, I pray that many, today, will say an everlasting “yes” to Jesus Christ, for we pray in His name. Amen.

 Rogers, A. (2017). Guilty of Love in the First Degree. In Adrian Rogers Sermon Archive (Mt 27:22). Signal Hill, CA: Rogers Family Trust.

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