Most people in Jesus’ day did not recognize Him. And because they did not recognize Him, they did not understand Him, His mission, or His motives. This paved the way for their rejection of Him, their mistreatment of Him, and their missing out on receiving from Him what they needed most – the gift of eternal life that only He could grant them.
When you read in Luke 23 about Jesus in the presence of that time period’s leaders, Pilate and Herod, you should feel keenly their confusion and take heed that you do not fall into the same traps into which they did.
“Herod with his soldiers treated (Jesus) with contempt and mocked Him. Then, arraying Him in splendid clothing, he sent (Jesus) back to Pilate…. (Pilate) said to (the chief priests and the rulers and the people)…, ‘What evil has He done? I have found in Him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release Him.’ But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that He should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted” (Luke 23:11, 22-24 ESV).
Pilate, on the one hand, seemed to perceive Jesus’ innocence and the injustice that the crowds sought to carry out against Him. Yet Pilate shrugged his shoulders, more or less, and abdicated personal responsibility of responding to the uniqueness of Jesus. And Herod, in love with himself, did not find in Jesus anything that fed that selfishness, so he not only dismissed Him, but mistreated and mocked Him.
Both men, though failing to recognize Jesus as Son of God and Lord of Creation, were still accountable for their responses to Him. Jesus, Son of God, the Word made Flesh, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, stood before them and they missed it, rejected Him, and sent Him packing. They couldn’t afford to make that mistake, yet they did. I cannot fathom their reaction when they stepped into eternity without the forgiveness of Christ Jesus and realized the horror of not receiving Him as Lord and Savior.
You and I are in a similar boat. True, we are not in the positions of either Pilate or Herod and it is likely that our names are not going to be known throughout the ages, but our response to Who He is will be the most urgent decision ever before us. And our response to Who He is will be dictated by our recognition of Who He is.
Do we really perceive Him as the Son of God (Luke 1:32)? As the Word of God made Flesh (John 1:14)? As the One to Whom every knee must bow and every tongue confess as Lord (Philippians 2:10-11)?
If we do recognize Him as the “Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), then we must submit to that fact and make the decision of receiving Him accordingly. He is the Lamb of God who will take away your sin, if you will repent of your sin and turn to Him in faith (see Romans 10:9-10). The moment you do so, God “causes you to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3b-4 ESV).
This is the hope that Good Friday secures for us as we make our way to Easter Sunday’s Resurrection. Do you recognize Jesus? Do you see that He is Lord and Savior? Do you know Him personally? He died for you and in your place so that you could have a place in heaven with Him. Receive Him today.
Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 24 ½ years, is the author of “Led by Grace,” “The Fairy Tale Parables,” “Crimson Harvest” and “A Heart at Home with God.” He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.