What Part Will You Play?

This morning I went back and read all four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. We know according to scripture, Jesus was meant to die. This was always God’s plan; it was inevitable that our sinless, perfect Savior would be condemned as an innocent man. But along the way, many people encountered Jesus and engaged with Him personally, and they had to decide what part they would play as the sovereign plan of redemption unfolded.

Pilate was admonished by his wife not to have anything to do with Jesus; she had been warned in a dream that He was a righteous man. Despite knowing Jesus was innocent, he chose to let politics override what he knew to be the truth and sent Jesus to the cross. He gave in to the mob mentality. He made an empty attempt to separate himself from the ugly affair, claiming innocence as he literally washed his hands in front of the people, blaming them for the outcome. He made the final call, sending Jesus first to be scourged, and then to be crucified.

The soldiers made a conscious decision to join the unfair and ugly events. They could have “called in sick,” anticipating how this day was going to end. They could have treated Jesus with compassion and respect, recognizing He was falsely accused. Instead, they mocked and humiliated Him, adding to His pain and suffering.

We know for a fact there were some of the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees who did not agree with the majority rule that asked for Jesus’ death. Nicodemus was one. There likely were a few others, but by and large, those who were religious cared little for truth. They themselves lied about Jesus’ words and actions and paid others to give false testimony, all the while knowing they were condemning innocent blood out of jealousy and fear of losing their religious power over the people.

And then there were the crowds. Crucifixions were bloody, ugly, public events, performed in full view of men, women, and children. I’m sure many chose to stay away from the mob that followed the condemned prisoners out to Golgotha, even if they thought Jesus was rightfully being executed. Surely some had a bit of decency and humanity left in them, and saw through the political and religious circus that was being played out as justice. But others joined in the fray, caught up in the mass hysteria. They should have at least had some shred of mercy for the suffering of these men, but instead joined in the degrading spectacle it had become, shouting insults and mocking.


What was the underlying reason that people abandoned their common sense and human compassion, to not only support the condemnation of a man who had brought healing and wisdom, but to add to His misery and pain?

I think there were two reasons.

First, they were deceived spiritually. Jesus said from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” They were fully convinced they were right, but they were completely wrong on all accounts about Jesus. Their eyes were blind, and their hearts were hard, and so they missed who Jesus really was.

Second, they recognized He had come to confront their personal sin. Whether it was blatant and clear, as with the Pharisees – for Jesus had called them out publicly on multiple occasions for their hypocrisy and misunderstanding of the word of God they claimed to believe – or, was simply the presence of the Holy Spirit in Jesus who, as we know, comes to convince men of sin, righteous and judgment, people who encounter Jesus will always be made aware of their own sin.

Like all the men and women who encountered Jesus on that day that changed the course of history for all mankind, we must make a decision.

Will we believe His words, accept Him as the Son of God He proclaimed Himself to be (and has proven by His resurrection), or will we listen to the crowds, or follow our own personal religious and political agendas and deny the truth?

Jesus came not only to confront our sin, but to do away with it. He came to give us the solution for our fallen nature and separation from God. All of us, individually, personally, must decide what our response will be.

John 15:20-25 – Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’

1 John 1:8-10 – If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

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