What Shall I Do with Jesus?
October 31st, 1982 @ 7:30 PM
WHAT SHALL I DO WITH JESUS, WHO IS CALLED CHRIST?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-31-82 7:30 p.m.
And may the Lord wonderfully fit for you a heavenly blessing, the multitudes of you that are sharing this hour on radio, on KCBI, the Sonshine station of our Center of Biblical Studies, and on KRLD, the great voice of the Southwest. This is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and we are in the midst of nine nights of revival. And the theme that we are following is this: "The Great Questions of Time and Eternity." And the question tonight: What Shall I Do With Jesus Who is Called Christ? On the radio, we invite you with the great throng here in this sanctuary, turn to Matthew 27. Matthew, the First Gospel, Matthew chapter 27, and we are going to read out loud verses 15 through 26; verses 15 through 26. This is the story of the trial of Jesus before the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate. Matthew 27, beginning at verse 15 and reading through verse 26. Now all of us out loud 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.
And you see in the midst of that tragic story the everlasting, forever pertinent question of the Roman procurator Pilate: "What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?" [Matthew 27:22].
I speak of that as being pertinent today. "What shall I do with Jesus?" But why? Why should I have any more to do with Jesus than with Jupiter? And why should I be forced to confront the Christ anymore than Julius Caesar? Both of them have been dead something like two thousand years. Why do I have on my hands this question, and this problem, and this confrontation, and this query, "What am I to do with Jesus?" Why do I not bow Him out? Why do not I be rid of Him in my mind, in my life, in my heart, in my thinking? Why am I asked to confront Christ Jesus? For this simple reason: the greatest decisive act of God in human history is the incarnation of Jesus Christ; and the greatest fact we face in life is God and His Christ. And He is inevitable, and inescapable.
So the agnostic, and the atheist, and the materialist, and the secularist, and the humanist, and the cynic, and the unbeliever, and the infidel, they all say, "We have got rid of Him. We are done with Him. We have nothing to do with Christ. We have pushed Him out of our lives." And like Pontius Pilate, they have washed their hands of the Lord Jesus, and they have rid themselves of Him. "Well and good," they say; but actually, like Pilate, have they washed their hands of the Lord Jesus? Have they rid themselves of this lone Galilean?
The next day, tomorrow, the man goes to his office, and he writes a letter. And he dates it up there, "November 1, 1982." I thought you had got rid of the Lord Jesus. That’s bringing Him in: "1982," what does that mean? One thousand, nine hundred eighty-two years after the birth of Jesus our Lord; you haven’t got rid of Him. The man has a bank, and he closes his bank on the birthday of Washington, the father of our country, and on the birthday of Lincoln, the great emancipator; but does he open his bank on Christmas Day? I thought he’d got rid of Jesus, but that is His birthday! And he goes to the coronation of the queen of England; we saw that on television. It’s a church service from beginning to ending. The coronation of the monarch of the British Empire is in the house of God, and it’s a church service. And then he makes his way to the inauguration of the president of the United States, and the president places his hand on a Bible and takes the oath of office, and in that Book is the story of Jesus the Christ. I thought he’d got rid of the Lord Jesus. And the man sits down in his study to read the great literature of the world, such as Milton’s Paradise Lost, and Paradise Regained; it’s the story of the Lord Jesus. I thought he’d washed his hands of Him. And he listens, being aesthetically sensible, to the great music of the world, and it’s the music of an Easter, and it’s the music of a Christmas; it’s the music of Christ. And as he studies, he wrestles in his mind with the great problems of civilization and of history, and these are the stories of Christian civilization, the effect Christ had upon the stream of humanity. The man has a little boy, and he’s playing in the backyard. And a big bully pushes the little children around, and he says to them, "There now, remember the Golden Rule." Why, that’s Jesus. And he goes to a funeral service, or to a wedding, or to a cemetery, or walks down the street and looks at the spire of a tall house of God pointing toward Jesus in the sky. I thought he’d washed his hands of Him. I thought he’d rid himself of Him. The great confrontation of life always is, "What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ?"
We meet that lowly Nazarene and that lone Galilean down every pathway in life. He looks at us from His cradle, from His manger [Luke 2:10-16]; God incarnate [Matthew 1:23], in the life of that little Child [Luke 2:21-52]. He looks at us from the horns of Hattan, where He enunciated and pronounced and promulgated the great principles of the kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 5:1-7:29]. He looks at us from the brow of Olivet, where He weeps over the tragedy of a sin-cursed, war-weary world [Luke 19:41-44]. He looks at us from His cross, dying for the sins of mankind [Matthew 27:32-50; 1 Corinthians 5:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21]. And He looks at us from heaven, from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead [2 Timothy 4:1]. We don’t wash our hands of the Lord Jesus. We don’t rid ourselves of the Son of God. We meet Him down every pathway of life. "What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?"
The scientist, the academician, the unbelieving teacher and professor and intellectual says, "I have nothing to do with fable and with fiction, much less with religious superstition. I have nothing to do with Jesus. I only deal in facts, scientific facts, provable facts, realistic facts; not religious superstition. I face facts." Wonderful, glorious, splendid! Tell me, if there was born a man into this world, and He changed the very calendar so that all time is divided between before His birth and after His birth, wouldn’t you say that is an inescapable fact? Isn’t it? Or, again, here is a man born in a cattle shed [Luke 2:7-16], lived a life of a working man, He toiled until He was thirty years of age [Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3]; then for a few months He taught the people [Matthew 4:23, 9:35], and died at thirty-three years of age [Matthew 27:46-50], and yet that Man has changed the course of civilization. Wouldn’t you say that is a fact? Isn’t it? Look again: He raised no armies, He headed no political party, He held no office, He never wrote a book, He never composed a song, He was hated and despised and tried for treason [John 19:12], and His own people dragged Him outside the city wall [John 19:20; Hebrews 13:12], and crucified Him between two thieves, two malefactors [John 19:16-18]; and yet, for the years and the years there have been millions who have laid down their lives for Him, and there are today uncounted millions who would gladly die for Jesus the Christ. Tell me, isn’t that a great inescapable fact? "We’re dealing with facts," the scientist says. The greatest fact in human history is Jesus our Lord!
Isn’t it a strange thing that there are men who will look at rocks as facts and deduce from them the science of geology? They’ll look at stars as facts and deduce from them the science of astronomy. They’ll look at fossils and they will deduce from them the science of paleontology, and write a whole history of mankind before human history began. But those same men will look at Christ the Son of God, the greatest fact in human life, and deduce nothing! They study the heavenly bodies and deduce from them immense corollaries and addenda, but they read nothing in addenda or corollary from the heavenly character, the incarnate Son of God. Man, the greatest fact in human history and the greatest fact in human life and the greatest fact in civilization is the fact of Jesus our Lord. "What shall I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?" [Matthew 27:22].
Then there are those who say, "This shall we do with the Lord Jesus: we shall place Him in the pantheon of the great religionists of the world." And time without number have I seen books that are published on the great religions of the world, and on the front of the book, there will be the picture of Confucius, Gautama the Buddha, and Krishna the avatar of Vishnu, there’ll be a picture of Mohammed, and then in the pantheon there’ll be a picture of the Lord Jesus. Whenever I see that, I think it a confrontation. It’s an insult more to decency than it is to common intelligence. You don’t put Him in a pantheon of religionists. He doesn’t fit there. When you introduce the Lord Jesus, it’s like the Philistine god Dagon who fell down broken in pieces before the ark of the covenant [1 Samuel 5:3-4]; so these so-called great religionists of the world fall down before the matchless Lord Jesus. The difference between them and the Savior is the difference between the darkness of the night and the brilliance of the noonday sun.
Confucius. Confucius was a political philosopher, and he gathered together all of the ancient sayings and lore and political acumen of the Chinese people; he did not believe in God. Confucius.
Gautama the Buddha was a rich scion, who, in the misery of his affluent life, renounced it and gave himself in an attempt to find happiness; and he finally found it, he said, in the denial of all desire. And Nirvana is to him the ultimate goal of all human life: nothingness, nothingness! If we can ever get to the place where there is nothingness, we have come to Nirvana. That is Buddha, Gautama, the enlightened one. He didn’t believe in God, and he didn’t believe in prayer.
Krishna, the god of the Hindu, he is an incarnation, the last innate avatar of Vishnu, who is one of three gods: Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu. It’s a god of sexual fertility, and they worship animals. How are you going to elevate a nation given to Hindu[ism], when every swine is a devil and every cow is a god? The degradation of that idol worship is unspeakable and unthinkable and indescribable! I’ve gone over India: the oppressiveness of the religion of the idol worship of Krishna is beyond anything that the world has ever seen. There is no poverty like the darkness of the Hindu religion.
Mohammed, the prophet Mohammed, he was a brigand, he was a murderer, he was a robber of the most violent sort. He preyed upon caravans and camel trains, and his life was filled with blood and murder and violence. Mohammed, he limited all of his followers to four wives apiece; but he himself, in his epileptic fits and trances, was given a vision from heaven whereby it was illimitable, the number of wives that Mohammed could possess. He lived a lustful, lecherous life all of his days. And when I talked recently with a Mohammedan, a Muslim here in America, and I spoke to him about the lecherous blasphemy and violence of Mohammed the prophet who founded the Muslim faith, he said to me, "That has nothing to do with Islam." Could you imagine a man saying to you that Christ had nothing to do with Christianity? My brother, the Christian faith is Christ, bound up in Him, summed up in Him, the Alpha and Omega in Him, the beginning and ending in Him [Revelation 1:8]. Christ is everything to us. And to place our incomparable Lord in a pantheon of religionists is to do despite to the great truth and revelation of Almighty God who made us and the world in which we live [Genesis 1:1-31; John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16]. He is separate and apart [Hebrews 7:26].
"What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ? [Matthew 27:22]. This will I do," some say: "Let us accept Jesus as a great inspired genius, such as Homer, or Virgil, or Dante, or Shakespeare, or Milton. Let us accept Jesus as one of the great inspired gifted men of all time and of all history." Did you know, if you were to stand in the presence of a Homer or a Virgil or a Dante or a Shakespeare or a Milton, and place them in the same breath with the Lord Jesus, they of all men would be most amazed and most astonished? Let’s take the most gifted of them, the most brilliant of them: the myriad-minded Shakespeare, the greatest literary genius of all time. The goal and the ambition of Shakespeare was to write enough plays to make enough money to be counted as a gentleman worthy to be buried in the chancel of the church at Stratford on Avon. That was the goal of his life, and he attained it. And if you’ve been to Stratford on Avon, you’ve been in the Anglican Church there, and you have stood there at the front of the church, at the chancel, and you have seen the inscription that he wrote on his tomb: "Dear friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear to dig the dust enclosed here." The greatest genius in the literary world, and when – and when Shakespeare died, he wrote in his will, and I’ve copied this out of it: "I commit my soul to God my Creator, in humble belief, through the merit of Jesus my Savior, to obtain eternal life." Shakespeare, before the great God and our Savior the Lord Jesus, was just as you and just as I am: a humble suppliant. "Lord, be merciful to me, that I might be saved" [Luke 18:13-14].
There’s no one that’s ever been in school that is not acquainted and conversant with this famous literary story of the last century. Charles Lamb had around him a group of brilliant literary satellites in London, and they were talking about what if the great literary geniuses of the world were to come in and visit their club. And Charles Lamb said, "If Shakespeare were to walk into this room, all of us would stand in honor of the great Elizabethan poet. But if Jesus the Christ were to walk into this room, we all would kneel in humble reverence and adoration."
There’s no one like Him. He is the great un-like [Hebrews 7:26]. He is the great incomparable, Jesus our Lord. All men suffer the grief of limitation. He never knew it; He never mentioned it. In the storm of the wind and waves, He speaks and they are calm [Matthew 8:23-27]. Before the leprous, the unclean, the blind, the halt, the crippled, the deaf, He brings light and life [Matthew 11:4-5]. Before the very dead, He brings resurrection [John 11:38-44]. He is the great un-like, the incomparable. And in the face of death that all men inevitably wrestle with – all of us, the greatest, the wisest, the most learned, the richest, the most famous, all of us fall into the arms of the corruption of death, all of us – our Lord, facing death, said, "I have the power to lay down My life, and I have the power to raise Myself, to lift My life from the grave, to take it up again" [John 10:17-18]. And when He died, on the third day He took the napkin around His head, separated it from the winding sheet of His body, and laid the napkin folded up in a place by itself, and walked out of that tomb, the omnipotent, resurrected, incarnate, glorified, immortalized God [John 20:1-8], triumphant over death, sin, and the grave [1 Corinthians 15:55-57]. That is Jesus our Lord.
"What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" [Matthew 27:22]. What if I receive Him for what He said He was, for all that He promised to be and for everything that He has waiting for those who look in faith and trust to Him? What if I accept the Lord Jesus? What if I open my Bible and accept the Lord Jesus for all that He said He was, the Son of God and the Savior of the world? [John 10:36]. What if I accept Him and open my Bible to Him? There are more than three hundred prophecies of the Lord Jesus in the Old Testament, and He fits every one of them perfectly. They are beautifully fulfilled in Him. Jesus is the subject, and the topic, and the theme, and the whole course of the revelation of Holy Scriptures. It’s His story, the Book, the Bible. And when I open the pages of the Bible to the Lord Jesus, He fits it exactly, every prophecy, every promise.
Suppose I open my home to the Lord Jesus and invite the Lord Jesus into my home. He sanctifies and blesses every life in it, and He beautifully, marvelously enriches the life of every child. That’s Jesus. Suppose I open my heart to the Lord Jesus and ask Him to come into my life. What a beautiful thing happens to me! If I bow down before Him and look up into His face, a miraculous thing occurs in my soul. As the old hero said as he knelt before his king, he said, "O king, my liege, lord, I bow one knee to thee; I bow both knees but to God alone." What if I do that before the Lord Jesus, I bow to look up into His face?
We were in Copenhagen one time, the home of the greatest sculptor of this modern era. Western Europe, Thorvaldsen, I wanted to see that famous statue [by] Thorvaldsen that you’ve seen pictures of all your life, entitled The Pleading Christ. He stands there with His arms outstretched, and underneath: "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden" [Matthew 11:28]. I found the church in Copenhagen where that statue of Thorvaldsen is placed. It’s at the front in the altar: there, a beautiful white marble picture of our Lord with His arms extended. And as I stood in the church and looked at that most famous statue of the Lord Jesus, I thought of the story when an art critic came from afar to see the statue. And he stood there, and he stood there, and he stood there, and he looked at it from every angle, and there was a frown on his face. And there was a youngster, a youth who happened to be in the church at the time, who was watching that critic with a frown on his face. And the young fellow came up to the stranger and said, "But sir, you must draw near. You must kneel down, and you must look up into His face." I’m no idol worshiper, and I don’t bow before images, but I thought I’d try that. And I went up to the chancel in the church, a Lutheran church, and I knelt down, and I looked up into His face. That’s where I belong: on my knees, looking up into the face of our blessed Lord.
"What shall I do with Jesus?" [Matthew 27:22]. I shall open my heart to Him and receive Him. I shall bow in His presence. And one other: not only open my Bible, and it’s His story, open my home and invite Him an honored guest, open my heart and look up into His face and bow in His presence; but when I open the door of the future, the vast consummation of the age, what do I see but the glorified, sovereign, reigning Lord Jesus coming with the holy angels of heaven in glory and in great power? [Zechariah 14:5; Jude 1:14]. O Lord, looking up, looking out, looking forward into the victory He has promised us who have found refuge in Him [Psalm 34:8; 1 Corinthians 15:57]. Think of it: opening the door of the future, pulling back the curtains of all time, and seeing the consummation of all the ages and the denouement of all history, and there He is, the living Lord, the reigning King of heaven and earth and all God has ever made. Oh dear!
In April of 1742, Handel presented his Messiah for the first time in Dublin, Ireland. The next year in March, 1743, Handel presented his Messiah in London, and King George II was there. And when finally the great oratorio rose to the crescendo of that "Hallelujah Chorus," when they came to the words, "The Lord God omnipotent reigneth forever and ever, Hallelujah, Hallelujah," involuntarily the king of England stood up, and all the great audience stood up with their king. And from that day until this, when they sing Handel’s "Hallelujah Chorus," the whole audience stands up. This is Jesus, God’s Son and our Savior, the King of every glorious tomorrow.
All hail the power of Jesus’ name, let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.
Oh that with yonder sacred throng, we at His feet may fall;
We’ll join the everlasting song, and crown Him Lord of all!
["All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name," Edward Perronet]
"What shall I do with Jesus?" This shall I do: open my heart, open my life, open my soul, open my prayers, open my hope, open my vision, open my plans, open my life, open every hope for the morrow, open, wide open to the Lord Jesus: "Welcome, Lord, into my house, into my heart, into my home, into my life. Welcome, Lord, King and Savior, God blessed forever."
Could you imagine a more glorious gospel than that? Could you think of a more precious hope than that? Lord, Lord. No wonder Simon Peter said, "Lord, Thou hast the words of eternal life. And if we turn from Thee, to whom shall we go?" [John 6:68]. Nothing but darkness and despair; but in Christ, life, and light, and the glory of heaven [2 Timothy 1:10].
May we stand together? Our Lord, what a marvelous, incomparable message we have in Christ Jesus. The great dissimilar, the great un-like, the unique, the alone, He is King, Jesus, King Jesus. He is the Savior; He has the answer to every problem. Lord, Lord, what a preciousness, that we have the privilege to bow in Thy presence, to name Thy name, to love Thee and serve Thee, to follow after Thee, to walk with Thee. God bless our people as with one accord we sing Thy praises, we pray in Thy name, we give the strength and the issue of life to Thee. Lord, [in] Thy able and capable hands, we will never be lost; not one, not one.
And in this moment that our people pray and we wait for you, a family, putting your life with us in the church, a thousand times welcome. A couple you, a one somebody you: "Tonight, pastor, we have decided for God, and we’re coming." Coming by letter or statement, coming on a confession of faith: "I’ve accepted Jesus; I’ve opened my heart to Him." Coming into the fellowship of the church by baptism: "I want to be baptized." As God shall press the appeal to your soul, answer with your life. Make the decision now. And in this moment, when we sing, in the balcony round, down one of those stairways; on the lower floor, into one of these aisles: "Pastor, we’re coming tonight. This is God’s time for us." And a thousand times, welcome. In the most glorious way, in the sweetest fellowship, in the brightest hope you could ever know He is able to forgive our sins [Matthew 9:6; Revelation 1:5]. He can write our names in the Book of Life [Revelation 20:12, 15, 21:27]. He can save us from death, hell, and the grave; Jesus, Jesus our Lord [1 Corinthians 15:54-57]. And Lord, tonight, bless those who come, in Thy wonderful and saving name, amen. While we sing, a thousand times, welcome.
WHAT SHALL I DO WITH JESUS?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. Why am I asked to confront Jesus?
B. The greatest decisive act of God in human history is the incarnation of Christ – He is inevitable and inescapable
II. Agnostic, atheist, materialist, secularist, cynic, infidel "get rid" of Christ
A. Like Pilate, have they actually rid themselves of Jesus?
B. Wherever we turn, whatever we do, there we meet the form and figure of Jesus(2 Timothy 4:1)
III. Scientist, academician, intellectual only deal in facts
A. The greatest fact in human history is Jesus Christ
B. Look at fossils and rocks and deduce the science of paleontology, but look at Christ and deduce nothing
IV. Some put Jesus in the pantheon of great religious teachers of the world
A. An insult to decency
B. Difference between them and the Savior is difference between darkness of night and noonday sun
V. Some accept Jesus as a great, inspired genius
A. They would be amazed and astonished to be placed in same category
B. Charles Lamb – "If Jesus walked inâ€¦"
VI. He is the great un-like
A. He never knew limitation (Matthew 8:23-27, John 11:38-44)
B. He faced death like none other (John 10:17-18, 20:1-8)
VII. Accept Him for all He said He was, came to be, and forever is
A. Open the door of your Bible
B. Open the door of your home
C. Open the door of your heart