What Shall I Do With Jesus?
January 22nd, 1978 @ 7:30 PM
WHAT SHALL I DO WITH JESUS?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-22-78 7:30 p.m.
To the multitude of you who are listening on the radio of the Southwest, KRLD, and on KCBI, stereo station of our Bible Institute, we welcome you. And you would be surprised at the great crowd that is in God’s house here tonight in the First Baptist Church in Dallas. Thank you choirs, orchestra, all of our guests, the thousands and uncounted thousands of you who are listening on radio. Thank you for praying. And now we look to God to bless the expounding of His Word tonight. The sermon is entitled, What Shall I Do with Jesus which is called Christ?
There are sixteen sermons that I have chosen that are particularly special to me—my favorite sermons. They shall be published in a book next year by our Broadman Press. When I looked at the sixteen, I was surprised at those that I chose. They all are evangelistic. Every one of them has a thrust in it, a seeking note in it, an appeal in it. And we are praying that God will aboundingly and wonderfully bless the invitation tonight. And if the Lord speaks to you, inviting you in faith to Him, or in inviting you to put life, home, and heart with us in the church, we welcome you in the name of our blessed Jesus.
Now I want you to read with me the text in Matthew, chapter 27. Matthew, chapter 27—and on the radio, if you have a Bible, turn in your Bible to the First Gospel, Matthew, chapter 27. And we shall read from verses 15 to 26. Matthew 27:15-26. Now, all of us, out loud, let’s read it together:
Now at that feast the governor was wont to release 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 which is called Christ?
For he knew that for envy they had delivered Him.
When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just Man, for 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 Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
The governor 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.
And the governor said, Why, what evil hath He done? But 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.
There would be no language, there would be no literature, there would be no history of any people in the world to whom that story would not be dramatically and compellingly interesting. The question that Pilate, in his frustration, asked, “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” [Matthew 27:22], is a question that has resounded through the centuries and generations, confronts every heart, and confronts us tonight. What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ? What shall do I with His words? “Never a man spake like that Man” [John 7:46]. Either His words are blasphemous in the highest and darkest degree, or else He is veritably the Son of God and the Savior of the world.
He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” [John 14:6]. He said, “I and My Father are one” [John 10:30]. He said, “Except a man eat My flesh and drink My blood, he has no life in him.” But if a man “eat My flesh, and drink My blood, he shall have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” [John 6:53-54]. “Never a man spake like that Man” [John 7:46]. He said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that liveth and believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die” [John 11:25-26]. What shall we do with His words? “Never a man spake as that Man spake” [John 7:46].
What shall we do with His works and His life? These who saw Him in the days of His flesh said, “It was never so seen in Israel” [Matthew 9:33]. And the mighty power of God upon Him, and the ableness of the Holy Spirit through Him, to work marvelous miracles were authentications of His deity and His saviorhood. For example, when they brought unto Him the sick and the palsy:
He said to the man, Thy sins be forgiven thee.
And those who heard murmured saying, This Man blasphemes. For who can forgive sins, but God?
And Jesus knowing what they thought in their heart said, Whether is easier, that I say, Arise, take up thy bed and walk, or Thy sins be forgiven thee?
But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (He turned to the sick of the palsy) and said, I say unto thee, Arise, take up thy bed, and walk.
And he that was sick with the palsy arose, took up his bed, and walked home.
Would you like to try it? Either one? For me, one would be as easy or as difficult as the other. To say to a man who all of his life had never walked—to say to him, “Arise, take up thy bed and walk,” or to say to the man, “Thy sins be forgiven thee” [Luke 5:23]. The great works, incomparable of the Lord Jesus Christ, are authentications of His divine ministries [John 20:30-31]. He is the Son of God and the Savior of the world [1 John 4:14]. What shall I do with Jesus called Christ? [Matthew 27:22]. What shall I do with His works? What shall I do with His death?
Being sinless and pure [1 Peter 1:19], He had no reason under the judgment of God to pay the penalty of death. I die because I am a sinful man. We are a dying people because we are a sinful people [Romans 3:23; Ezekiel 18:4]. If I never sinned, I would never die. If we never sinned, we would never die. This Man never sinned [Hebrews 4:15]. The judgment of death was never His. But He died vicariously. He died for us [1 Corinthians 15:3]. He died a lamb substituting in our stead [Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21]. He paid the penalty of our sins. He said, “This is My blood of the new promise—of the new covenant—shed for the remission of sins” [Matthew 26:28]. And there is something about the death of our Lord that causes any man who looks into the face of the crucified Son of God to search his own soul.
Was it for crimes that I have done,
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity, grace unknown,
And love beyond degree.
But drops of grief could ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe.
Here, Lord, I give myself away,
‘Tis all that I can do.
[“Alas and Did My Savior Bleed”; Isaac Watts, 1707]
See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were all the realm of nature mine
That were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
[“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” Isaac Watts]
There is something about the death, the atoning, sacrificial outpouring of the crimson of the life of the Son of God that pauses one who looks upon it to search his soul. Whom am I that so great sacrifice should have been made for me? What shall I do with Jesus called Christ? [Matthew 27:22]. What shall I do with His death? [Matthew 27:32-50]. What shall I do with His resurrection? [Matthew 28:1-7]. This is the Man who though He were dead, yet He lives again [Revelation 1:18]. He lives today. He lives through the centuries. And He confronts every generation. He is alive. He is more alive today than He was the first Easter when the Holy Spirit raised Him from among the dead [Romans 1:4]. What a dramatic scene! In the first chapter of the Book of the Revelation:
I heard a great voice behind me, as of a voice of a mighty trumpet [Revelation 1:10], as the voice of many waters… [Revelation 1:15].
And I turned to see the voice that spake unto me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
And in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, One like unto the Son of Man.
And then after he had described the glory of the living Lord [Revelation 1:13-16], John says, “I fell at His feet as one dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, and said, Fear not—fear not…I am He that was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, and I, I have the keys of Hell and of Death’” [Revelation 1:17-18]. Our living Lord is more alive and mighty and powerful today than He was when He was first raised from the tomb [Matthew 28:1-7]. And I confront Him today. There’s no road down which we travel, there’s no path down which we go but that we meet the Son of God just as Saul of Tarsus did on the road to Damascus [Acts 9:1-6].
What shall do I with Jesus called Christ? What shall do I with His resurrection [Matthew 28:1-7], the living Lord? What shall I do with His promised return? He said, “If I go away, I will come back” [John 14:3]. Our Lord said, “Behold, I come quickly” [Revelation 22:12]. The Revelation has a text. It is Revelation 1:7: “Behold He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him.” What shall I do in the day of the visitation of our Lord from heaven? In the sixth chapter of the Apocalypse, John says, “I saw the heavens roll back like a scroll” [Revelation 6:14].
And I saw gathered before the throne all of the great and small of the earth . . .
And the kings and the captains and the great men…cried to the rocks and the mountains,
Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sits upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
For the great day of His wrath has come; and who shall be able to stand?
“What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ?” [Matthew 27:22]. In the great judgment day when He comes and we stand in His presence [Romans 2:16], what shall I do with Jesus?
Following the Holy Scriptures, there were five evasions of Pilate, frustrated—the Lord on his hands—unable to be rid of the problem or of the Man. There were five evasions of the Roman procurator called Pontius Pilate. The first; he learned that He was a Galilean; therefore, He belonged to the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas [Luke 23:6-7]. So he got rid of the Lord by sending Him to Herod Antipas. “What he does, I do. If Herod condemns Him, I condemn Him. If Herod accepts Him, trusts Him, believes in Him, I will accept Him and trust Him. Whatever Herod does, I will do.” So he sent Him off to Herod Antipas. Herod Antipas, buffoon as he was, finding Jesus no magician and no trickster, contemptuous, sent Him back to Pilate [Luke 23:8-11], and there the Lord is on the hands of the Roman procurator still. “What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ?” [Matthew 27:22].
And how many times do you find that evasiveness in an answer to the appeal of our Lord? I will do what somebody else does. I will do what my wife does. Or, I will do what my husband does. Or, I will do what my children do. Or, I will do what my boss does. Or, I will do what my friends do. Never is the decision ultimately that. It is always intimate, and it is always personal, and it is always of you.
I was born for myself. Nobody could be born for me. I live for myself. I breathe for myself. No one can breathe for me. Someday I shall die for myself. No one can die for me. Someday I shall stand at the great judgment bar of Almighty God for myself [2 Corinthians 5:10]. Nobody can stand for me. So it is in my confrontation with Jesus Christ. It is one place in my life where I stand open, and naked, and alone. What shall I do with Jesus? [Matthew 27:22].
There is a dear woman, in my encouraging her to come to the Lord, she said, “I wait on my husband.” After a long period of time, down the aisle she came. And when I greeted her here at the front and welcomed her, she said, “I have just decided to wait no longer. I am coming. This is God’s call to me. I am accepting the Lord publicly. And I am asking to be baptized. I’m coming.” You know what? I said to her, I said, “Dear, turn around. Turn around.” She turned around and right back of her—right there stood her husband. She said, “Why, oh, I did not know! What are you doing here?” And he replied, “My dear, I was waiting for you.”
There are a thousand areas in life where we share the ultimate decisions with others. But there is one place that’s just between you and God, and that’s when the Holy Spirit calls for the devotion of your life and faith to Jesus Christ [Galatians 2:20]. It is a personal decision.
A second evasion of Pilate: the Lord on his hands, “What shall I do with Him?” Pilate tried to compromise Him. He said to the angry, infuriated people crying for His crucifixion, he said, “I will scourge Him and let Him go [Luke 23:22]. Not crucify Him, not crown Him, but compromise it. I will beat Him. I will scourge Him and let Him go.” How often do you find that response to the appeal of Christ? I won’t accept Him, I won’t crown Him. But I’ll tell you what I do. I will give up this. And I will give up that, and I will quit doing that, and I will quit doing the other. I won’t accept the Lord. I won’t follow Jesus. I won’t give my life to Him. I won’t be a Christian. But I will tell you what I will do, I will be a better man, or I will be a better woman, or I will try to reform, and I will give up these things that intervene. Compromise it. But it won’t work. The Lord is still on our hands. “What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ?” [Matthew 27:22]. And giving up some habit or some sin or some compromise will not answer neither now or in the judgment day of Almighty God [Galatians 2:16].
A third evasion of Pilate, and this is one of the most unusual you will ever read about. After they had beat Him—and it was an awesome thing, a Roman scourge—after they had beat Him [Matthew 27:26], the Lord so bloody; and after the soldiers had plaited a crown of thorns in contempt and put it on His head, and then, finding a cast-off old Roman robe, they covered His shoulders with that purple [Matthew 27:28]. And then they took a reed, a flimsy stick, and put it in His hand for a scepter [Matthew 27:29]. He was a pitiful sight! And seeing Him, Pilate brought Him forth on the balcony before the enraged people below and standing by His side, uttered those famous words, “Idou ho anthropos” —Ecce homo—Behold the Man!” [John 19:1-5]. Seeking somehow in a cajole, in a reason, and in some way to find an answer. Well, I wish it would work. I could wish that we could find an answer. But Satan is smarter than we are.
There is no man in the world that can reason with Satan. You just can’t. Everything you will ever think of, he knew thousands of years before. And every ruse you will ever try, he tried it centuries before. You just don’t reason with Satan. You don’t argue with him. Even Michael the archangel dare not confront him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you” [Jude 9]. And whenever standing before our conscience we seek some reasoning way out of a final devotion and commitment to Christ, it’s that same ultimate answer, crucify Him. And the governor has Him on his hands yet and still. “What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ?” [Matthew 27:22].
A fourth evasion of Pontius Pilate: I will substitute somebody for Him—Barabbas here. At the Passover it is a habit and custom that we release one among the Jews. Would you release Barabbas, or would you release Jesus? I will try to substitute Barabbas for Jesus. And the crowd cried, “No, not Barabbas. Crucify Jesus!” [Matthew 27:15-22]. Substituting something else instead of an out and out commitment to the living Lord; oh, that is the commonest weakness of human life! Rather than a real, personal commitment to the Lord, why, there is a thousand substitutes. I will substitute ritual, or I will substitute church membership, or I will substitute sacraments, or I will substitute a moral life, or I will substitute a great gift or philanthropies. It is endless. But that doesn’t answer it. All the philanthropies of a man to buy his way to heaven, you don’t do it that way. And all the goodnesses of a man does not come in with him at the judgment bar of Almighty God [Ecclesiastes 12:14]. He is still there. What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ? [Matthew 27:22].
His fifth and last evasion; he called for water, a bowl, and for a towel. And he washed his hands in the presence of the throng. And he said, “I am guiltless of the blood of this just Man; see you to it” [Matthew 27:24]. I will neither crown nor crucify Him. I will neither accept Him or reject Him. I am neutral. I wash my hands of the decision. I won’t make it. Foolish Pilate, he crucified Him [Matthew 27:26-50]. He rejected Him for there is no other answer except one or the other. When you go out this door tonight, it will not be neutral. It will be either as a Christian you walk out that door accepting the Lord as your Savior, or it will be as a lost soul rejecting His overtures of grace that you leave this service tonight. It is always one or the other.
Many years ago for the first time, I was in Lucerne, Switzerland; beautiful resort, little city by Lake Lucerne. Right there—just right there rising out of the lake is a towering mountain. And they said the name of that mountain is Mt. Pilatus, Mt. Pilate, Mt. Pilatus. I said, “Well, that is an astonishing thing! Why would you have in the middle of Switzerland, right in front of Lake Lucerne rising out of the sea, out of the lake, why would you have a mountain called Mt. Pilate?” And they said, “The tradition is this part historical: when Pilate was recalled and exiled in disgrace, he was sent to Switzerland where he committed suicide, and his body was thrown into Lake Lucerne. And tradition says that the peasants, in the twilight of the evening, can see him rise from the bottom of the lake and wash his hands in the clean, pure, blue waters of Lake Lucerne.”
“I am guiltless of the blood of this just Man” [Matthew 27:24]. I wish it were that simple, just washing your hands. But it isn’t. He crucified Him. He condemned Him [Matthew 27:26]. And the Apostles’ Creed yet reads, “Crucified under Pontius Pilate.” It will forever read that, “Crucified under Pontius Pilate.” We don’t wash our hands of the decision of the Lord. I either make it for Him, or I either make it against Him. It is one or the other. Oh, how blessedly better, how infinitely more precious to say, “Lord Jesus, God helping me, I open my heart and my soul and my life to Thee. Dying for me in my stead [1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21], I love Thee for it. Teaching me the heavenly way, I walk in it. Asking me to make public my confession of faith in Thee, Lord, I do it [Romans 10:9-13]. And I’m on the way, and here I am.”
In a moment we stand to sing our hymn of appeal. And while we sing it, a family you, a couple you, or one somebody you, “Tonight I make this decision for Christ and I am on the way” [Ephesians 2:8]. In the balcony round, you; on this lower floor, down one of these aisles, you: “I have decided for God and here I am. Here I come.” On the first note of the first syllable, do it. Make it now. There is a stairway at the front and the back and on either side, and there is time and to spare. Give your heart to Jesus. Give your life to God. And when we stand up in a moment, you stand up walking down that stairway, coming down this aisle. “Here I am, preacher. I have decided, and I am on the way.” God bless you, angels attend you as you come, while we stand and while we sing.