Recently, I was going through the book of John for my personal devotions (“quiet times”), and I came across John 19. It begins with Pilate flogging Jesus just to satisfy the crowd, without having pronounced any judgment upon him. Soon after, however, Pilate proclaims that Jesus is innocent. But the crowd cries, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Later in the passage, Pilate is said to have tried to find some way to release Jesus, but in the end, he makes the call to have Jesus crucified. He presents Jesus in front of the crowd and says, "Behold your King!" But the chief priests respond saying, "We have no king but Caesar."
Many people may look at this passage and point their finger at Pilate for crucifying an innocent man or point their finger at the Jews saying that they rejected Jesus. However, if we look a bit more closely at our hearts, we may realize that Pilate and the Jews are actually our representatives, carrying out the actions that we would have done, if we were present. In essence, because of our own sinful hearts, we crucified Jesus.
Someone may ask, "How did I crucify Jesus? I wasn't there. If I had been there, back then, I would not have called out for Jesus to be crucified." Well, let us think about our own lives. Is there anyone out there that you have a hard time forgiving? Jesus calls us to forgive (Matthew 18:21-22), and we know that forgiveness is a good thing. Perhaps we want to forgive, but deep in our hearts it is such a difficult thing to do. And now we are faced with the question, "Jesus has said to forgive, so do I forgive or not?" For many of us, if we were deeply hurt, then forgiveness would be a very difficult thing, and so if a person does not forgive, then the person goes against what Jesus commands and is essentially saying, "I have no king but Caesar. Crucify him."
Perhaps forgiveness is not the issue for some of us. But there are many other ways that we go against the Lord, either by failing to follow God's commands or by trying to follow God's commands for our own glory rather than God’s (like in the examples shown in Matthew 6). When we do this, we are essentially saying, through our way of living, that Jesus is not our king and that we would rather see him crucified. Because, as Jesus says in Matthew 6:24, we cannot serve two masters, i.e., two kings. We will be devoted to the one (Caesar, the world, our own desires) and despise the other (Jesus). We will not just be indifferent to the other, we will actively hate him. We will call for his death.
All of us have sinned against the Lord. Every person is guilty of sin. But Jesus, the only one who was truly innocent willingly took our place to receive the punishment that we deserve. He was willing to die on the cross for our sins even when we were crying out, "Crucify him." The good news is that not only did he die, but he also rose again from the dead, conquering sin and death, so that now if you put your faith in Jesus Christ, not only does he forgive us our sins against him, but he also changes our hearts so that we will want to obey him. For this, I am extremely thankful and filled with joy.
During this month, let us take time to reflect on what Christ has accomplished. Let us reflect on how he lived a perfect, innocent life, how he died on the cross for our sins, how he rose again from the dead conquering sin and death, and finally how he gives us a changed heart and the ability to obey and follow him.