What Shall I Do With Jesus?


What Shall I Do With Jesus?

March 17th, 1977 @ 7:30 PM

Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Matthew 27:19-26

3-17-77    7:30 p.m.



It is very seldom that I pray just before reading the Scripture and bringing the message, but the service tonight is uniquely and peculiarly one of decision.  Face to face with the living Christ, What Shall I Do With Jesus?  And not only the great group of people here in this sanctuary, but the thousands of others who are listening to this service on television, on radio, there is in each one of our lives an ultimate decision to be made as we come face to face with our Lord.  So before I begin, could we humble our hearts in His presence, and say, "Master, as the pastor preaches tonight, is there some word, an ultimate word, that You have for me?  I’m listening, Lord, and I’ll answer if You will but call.  If You will speak, I will offer to Thee my life if You will just make it plain what I ought to do."  Someone to accept the Lord as his Savior; someone to give his life in a special service; someone to reconsecrate himself to the work of our Lord, "Whatever God would have me to do; Lord, as I face Thee in this service tonight, prepare my heart to answer well."  Now, let’s pray together.

Our Lord, this subject to which we address our souls tonight is one with which all of us have wrestled.  There is no one in divine presence but who knows the agony of listening to the voice of Christ, hearing what He says, and then, Lord, the ensuing struggle; shall I obey?  Master, some who will be wrestling in heart tonight concerning the acceptance of Christ as Savior; some concerning a full commitment of life and soul; some to answer a special purpose for which God hath intended them even before they were born [Ephesians 2:10]; and all of us, Lord, can do better for Thee, and humbly ask God’s presence in our lives that we could do, ought to do, shall do, or enable to do more for Thee; so Master, we begin and when appeal is made, may it be a wondrous thing that God hath done in and through us; for His kingdom sake and for His name’s sake, amen.

Reading the trial of Jesus in the twenty-seventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, starting in verse 19:

When Pilate was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just Man: I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him.

But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask for the liberation of Barabbas, and to destroy Jesus.

The governor, the procurator Pontius Pilate, answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.

Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let Him be crucified.   Away with Him,

And the governor said, But, what evil hath He done? And they cried out the more, saying, Let Him be crucified.

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 just Person: see ye to it.

Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.

Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.

 [Matthew 27:19-26]


And the question which is our text, in the twenty-second verse, "What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ?" [Matthew 27:22].  I do not know of a more fundamental or primary question that the whole world faces than this: the question of government, the question of state, the question of business, the question of civic community and leadership, the question of family, the question of individual soul; "What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ?"  What shall I do with His words?  "Never a man spake like that Man" [John 7:46].  And such words did He say, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life:  no man cometh to God, but by Me" [John 14:6].  What shall I do with words like that?  Again, "He that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son hath not life, but the wrath of God abideth upon him" [John 3:36].  What shall I do with His words?  Never did a man speak like that Man spoke [John 7:46]. 

What shall I do with His life?  "It was never so seen in Israel [Matthew 9:33].  There was never a life like that, and not only in the days of His flesh, but through the continuing centuries and down to this present hour does the living Lord speak to us.  He confronts us on every Damascus road, and He demands of us the highest in every decision we make; what shall I do with His life?

What shall I do with His death?  The death of our Lord was the only death in the world that is substitutionary for the sins of our souls.  "This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for the remission of sins" [Matthew 26:28]. 


Was it for crimes that I had done

He groaned upon the tree? 

Amazing pity, grace unknown

and love beyond degree."

["Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed?" Isaac Watts]


What shall I do with His death?  No man ever died for the sins of the world but that Man.  What shall I do with His resurrection; ‘Raised from the dead for our justification" [Romans 4:25], that in Him, we might have hope of heavenly and eternal righteousness.

This noon day, we had a memorial, a funeral service for one of the finest members of our church, a man who had been in the fellowship for forty years.  What an incomparable coronation, what a glorious hour when the pastor can stand at a memorial hour such as that and say this man is with the living Lord.  It is He who said, "I was dead, but now I am alive!  And I, I have the keys of Death and of Hell" [Revelation 1:18].  What shall I do with His resurrection, the living Christ? 

What shall I do with His promised return?  Not forever will this world continue in its sin and iniquity.  Not forever shall death reign among men.  Not forever shall our hearts be filled with tears of agony and struggle and trouble.  Someday, there shall be an intervention from heaven when Christ comes down, "Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also who pierced Him: and the families and tribes of the earth shall wail because of Him" [Revelation 1:7].  What shall I do with the promised return and the coming King?  What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ? [Matthew 27:22]. 

In the story of this trial of Jesus before Pontius Pilate, there are five evasions of that Roman procurator as he wrestled with the problem, couldn’t rid himself of it.  However he turned, it came back to him again just as it does with us.  The five evasions of Pontius Pilate as he wrestled what to do with Jesus:   number one; when he learned that He was from Galilee.  That was the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas.  He was the Roman procurator of Judea, the Roman province of Judea.  Galilee was another unit in the Roman Empire and over it presided a king named Herod Antipas.  And when Pontius Pilate learned that Jesus was from Nazareth in Galilee, he sought to rid himself of the problem of facing the Lord and deciding about the Lord by sending Him to Herod [Luke 23:6-7].  "Whatever he does, I will do.  If Herod condemns Him, I condemn Him.  If Herod frees Him, I free Him.  If Herod accepts Him, I accept Him.  I will do what Herod does," and he sent Him off to Herod.

How many times do I see that in the lives of people?  I’ll do what he does, or I’ll do what she does, or I’ll do what the crowd does.  Like people who have no will of our own and no volition of our own, we do what is for the moment popular or expedient or acceptable.  I’ll do what they do, or I’ll do what he does, or I’ll do what she does, doing what somebody else does, but always and inevitably, that question comes back to us; as Herod sent Jesus back to Pontius Pilate.  You see, I was born for myself.  I have to breathe for myself.  One day I shall die for myself.  There is no one in the earth who can die for me.  And someday, I shall be judged for myself.  There are great epochs in every man’s life where he stands naked and alone before God, and this is one of them; what shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ?  Not what they do, not what they think, not what she chooses, not what he does, but, "What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ?"  [Matthew 27:22].

The second evasion of Pontius Pilate; with the Lord on his hands and seemingly unable to rid himself of the problem, his second evasion was let’s compromise this.  Let’s don’t decide this one way or the other, let’s compromise it.  "I will scourge Him, and then we will let Him go" [Luke 23:16].  How many times do I see that also in the lives of our people? "I’ll not follow Him, nor will I give my life to Him, tell you what I will do, though; I’ll give up this, and I’ll forsake that, and I’ll turn away from this other thing.  I’ll do this much, and I’ll do that much.  I won’t give myself wholly to the Lord.  I won’t come all out for Him, but I’ll compromise with you.  I’ll even come to church, but I won’t be an avowed disciple of the Lord.  I won’t confess Him as my Savior, and I certainly will not be baptized, but I’ll compromise it with you.  I’ll do this much, and I’ll leave off that much, and I’ll try to do better, and I’ll reform.  And I’ll try to quit some of the things that I’ve been doing that I know are wrong, and I’ll start trying to do some of the things that I know that are right.   But I won’t accept the Lord and follow Him."  An evasion, a compromise, "I’ll do some thing, but I won’t do what He asks." 

A third evasion; to reason about it, as Pontius Pilate did with that infuriating and angry and riotous throng.  Do you remember?  He brought Him out, a pitiful figure, crowned with thorns, beaten, scourged, a mock purple robe upon Him, and a reed in His hand for a scepter, a stick [Matthew 27:28-31; John 19:1-4].  And thinking that he could somehow reason with that mob crying for His blood and His life, he brought Jesus out on the balcony and said, "Ecce homo; idou ho anthropos,"  "Behold the Man!" [John 19:5]. One of the most pitiful figures in all the world; the Son of God standing there, scourged, beat, bloodied, mocked, ridiculed.  And what he meant by it was this, "Look at Him, look at Him!  Pitiful figure, you wouldn’t demand the life and blood of someone like that," reasoning, seeking to reason with the throng.  You know what I have learned, and you know it too.  You don’t reason with Satan.  He demands an absolute repudiation of the Son of God!  There is no sympathy in Satan for the Prince of glory!  He demands His crucifixion, he demands His rejection.  Don’t you go down that aisle and accept Him as your Savior, and he can give you a hundred reasons why not and a thousand other reasons why not tonight.  There is no one of us an equal for Satan.  We can’t out think him, and we can’t out reason him.  Even Michael, the archangel, dare not confront him but said, "The Lord rebuke thee!" [Jude 1:9].  And how much less if Michael the archangel cowers before Satan, how much less are we able, we who are made out of dust and ashes.  When you start listening to Satan, and he whispers in your heart all these things:  "Don’t you do that.  Don’t you make that confession.  Don’t you make that commitment.  Don’t you walk in that way.  Don’t you exalt or crown the Lord."  When you listen to him, you’re lost, you’re lost, the evasions of Pontius Pilate.

His fourth evasion; always the Lord standing there before him, "What shall I do with Jesus on my hands?"  Face to face with Him, "What shall I do with Him?"  His fourth evasion; let’s substitute something else; so Pontius Pilate said, "Let us substitute Barabbas" [Matthew 27:17].  Now Barabbas was a villain, he was a murderer and a traitor; he was guilty of treason and had been sentenced to die [Mark 15:7; Luke 23:18-19].  So Pontius Pilate says, instead of facing a decision for Christ, let us rather substitute Barabbas.  Which would you choose; Barabbas or Jesus?  He thought without any question, the people would say let’s destroy Barabbas, one of the vilest and most iniquitous of all of the criminals who lived in that day.  Substituting Barabbas, and let’s just not make a decision about Jesus: a substitution.  And how oft times do I see that?  "I won’t accept the Lord, but I’ll substitute something for Him.  I’ll live a good life.  I’ll pay my honest debts.  I’ll walk as a noble citizen," or substitute some other way, or some other persuasion, anything except humbly and preciously, prayerfully and believing, to let Jesus come into your heart; guide you every step of the way in your life; substitute something else for Him. 

You know in the little country church one time where I pastored, there was a man.  He was a chain smoker, and there came a little sore on his lower lip where a cigarette always dangled.  Out in the country smoking, always that cigarette, and there on his lower lip, a little sore came, and it didn’t go away.  So he went to the county seat town and asked the physician about that sore on his lip.  And the physician looked at it and studied it, and he said, "You have a cancer there on your lip, and it is very serious.  Now you go to such and such city," and he told him the city, "and you are to go to such and such hospital," and he told him the hospital, "and you are to go to such and such surgeon," and he told him the surgeon, "and you have that removed.  It is dangerous.  It is malignant."  You know what that man did?  He came back home, and his neighbors learned of the cancer on his lower lip. 

And one of his neighbors and one of his dear friends came to him and said, "It’s expensive to go to the city; it’s more expensive to go to the hospital, and it’s still more expensive the fee of a surgeon.  I tell you what?  I have a little vial of medicine at home just like that.  I will bring it to you, and you put on that sore that little vial of medicine, and it will heal it, and it will go away, and it will save you all that money and expense."  That man listened to the siren voice of his friend and of his neighbor, and he took the little vial of medicine, and he placed it on the sore.  And he placed it on the sore. 

And the days passed, and the weeks passed, and the months passed, and he went back to the physician in the county seat town.  By that time, it had become terrible.  And the physician looked at him, and he said, "But sir, are you not the man to whom I said you have a cancer, a malignancy, and I said this is the way; the city, the hospital, the surgeon?  Are you not the man?" 

He replied, "Yes."

 "Well, why did you not?" 

And the farmer replied, "Doctor, a neighbor said if I would use this little vial of medicine, that it would heal the cancer, and save me the time and expense."

 And the doctor in the county seat said, "O God; O God!"  Did you know the day came when that cancer ate away the entire lower part of his face and his neck, and his tongue lay on his chest?  That’s exactly what Satan does to us when the Holy Spirit points to the Son of God.  We are afflicted people, we are dying people, we are sinful people, and sin is not only a wrestling in this life, but it has to do with the judgment that is to come!  When I stand at the great bar of Almighty God, what shall I do with my sins?  As Job cried, "I have sinned; what shall I do?" [Job 7:20]. And Satan comes, and he has all kinds of ameliorations, and all kinds of palliations, and all kinds of substitutes, and all kinds of suggestions when what we need is the Great Physician who can heal us and who can save us [Matthew 11:28-30, 18:11; John 10:27-30; Romans 10:9-13].  Why would a man choose to die when life, and salvation, and health, and strength, and forgiveness are so nearby? 

The fifth and the final evasion of Pontius Pilate; the Lord on his hands, the Lord before his face, demanding a decision one way or another; his last, his fifth evasion; he called for a basin of water and a towel.  And there before the great throng, he washed his hands, and he dried them with a towel, and he said, "I am innocent of the just, I am innocent of the blood of this just Man:  see you to it" [Matthew 27:24].   And he washed his hands.  "I refuse to decide one way or another.  I am not for Him; I am not against Him.  I just wash my hands of Him."  You know what that verse says?  "And he delivered Him to be crucified" [Matthew 27:26].  There is no neutrality facing God and facing Jesus; never.  When this service is done tonight, you’ll go out that door either saved or lost; one or the other, it will not be both.  Nor will it be, "I can wash my hands of that great choice and decision and commitment."  It will be one or the other. 

You know, in Lucerne, Switzerland, walking around; right there, right there the city, the little city, is built right at the base of one of those high Alpine mountains.  And I asked, "What’s the name of that mountain?" 

And they said, "That’s Mt. Pilatus."

 "Well," I said, "that’s amazing, Mt. Pilatus, Mt. Pilate.  Why in the world would you name a mountain here Mt. Pontius Pilate?  Why is it named Mt. Pontius Pilate?" 

And then they told me the story.  This procurator, Pontius Pilate, later fell into disfavor of the Roman Caesar.  He was called back.  He ended his life in disgrace and suicide.  And when he took his own life, they flung his body into Lake Lucerne.  And the peasants say that to this day, in the evening shadows, there rises from the bottom of the lake, Pontius Pilate, and in the clear, blue waters of Lake Lucerne, he washes his hands.  He washes his hands.  No man can escape this ultimate and final answer, "What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ? [Matthew 27:22].  Shall I crown or crucify Him?  Shall I accept or reject Him?  Shall I love or refuse Him?  Shall I follow or disown Him?  Shall I give Him my heart and life or shall I keep it for myself?  What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ?"

And that’s our answer, one or the other tonight.  O God, that it might be as for me, and my soul, and my heart, and my life, now and in the hour of my death and in the eternity that is yet to come, I choose to glorify, and to magnify, and to follow, to trust in, and to love Thee, Lord.  Now, pray with me.

Our Father God, the great throngs who have listened tonight on radio; in their hearts also, there are battles and wars.  "What shall I do?"  God calls and I must answer.  And in this great throng of people here tonight, in every heart, there is no less a confrontation with Christ, the Savior of the world.  Satan hinders, sin blinds and binds and grinds, and dear Lord, we fall into stumbling, and into sin, and into backsliding, and into error, some of us refusing even to own the Lord in the forgiveness of our sins; lost, no God, no!  O Master, tonight, may there be in our hearts a wondrous ableness.  Lord, make us that able, a wondrous willingness to give everything that we have and are to the Lord Jesus Christ; some to accept Him for the first time tonight as Savior; some to heed the calling of the Lord; some who will place life and family with us to serve Jesus, to love and praise His wondrous name.  Master, I cannot press the appeal.  O Holy Spirit, with words unutterable, press the appeal tonight.  And in happiness and gladness and glory, may we answer with our lives, "Here I am, Lord.  I am coming."  Grant it, Master, in Thy saving name, amen.

In a minute, in a moment, we are going to stand and sing our hymn of appeal.  If the Holy Spirit presses upon your heart a decision for Christ, whatever that decision might be, would you come and stand by me?  "I want to accept the Lord as my Savior, and I’m coming."  "I want to put my life in the circle, the circumference, the communion of this dear church, and I am coming."  "I want to give my life in a special ministry, I’m coming."  Or, "I want to start anew with the Lord, in a new consecration, I am coming."  As the Spirit shall press the appeal, answer now.  Come now; do it now, and may angels attend you in the way as you come, while we stand and while we sing.