The risks of siding with Jesus
be without fault. And yet, knowing the truth and having made up his mind to release Jesus, Pilate still ultimately condemned him to die.
In his immortal work “The Screwtape Letters,” C.S. Lewis has Screwtape, the senior tempter, saying this to Wormwood, his demonic apprentice: “Pilate was merciful till it became risky.”
Matthew 27:24 says, “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.”
Once again Pilate proclaimed the innocence of Jesus. Yet, because people were rioting, he gave him up to be crucified anyway. He washed his hands in front of everyone, but no amount of water or time ever has or ever will wash away the stain from his name. Pilate was merciful till it became risky...
Siding with Jesus always has been risky, and always will be. Not just in martyrdom, which is still very much extant in the middle east and many other places, but in other ways as well.
If you follow Christ you will risk ridicule. You may be called a follow of “Jebus” by people who think their Homer Simpson reference to be clever. You may be told, as I was, “I know your book better than you do, fool.” (I did not answer back. I have read the Bible cover to cover some fifty times, and studied it fervently since childhood, and thus did not feel the need to engage the inanity). You may be broad-brushed as a fanatical fundamentalist when you are, in fact, well reasoned and kind.
If you follow Christ you will risk alienation. Friends and family may not understand why you are following someone you cannot see and trusting him to take you to a place you have never been.
If you follow Christ you, as Pilate, will risk people actually getting angry each time you speak up for him. There has never been a greater flashpoint than the name of Jesus, there has never been a name that generated simultaneously such devotion and such disgust.
Following Christ is risky, yes. But not following him is a greater risk by far. All of the risks of following him are found only in time, but not following him carries a high price tag both in time and eternity. Acts 4:12 says, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
Pilate was merciful, till it became risky. If only he had taken the time to think of the risks far beyond his immediate well-being.
Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Mooresboro, N.C., a widely traveled evangelist, and author of several books, including a kid’s fiction book about the Battle of Chickamauga, “Broken Brotherhood.” He can be emailed at email@example.com.
Evangelist and author