So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will. As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Luke 23:24-27
“And he surrendered Jesus to their will.” Have you ever wondered what Pilate would do if he were to get a do-over — a mulligan? Understanding the context of Jesus being falsely accused, I find Pilate’s words to be quite haunting. Yet much like Pilate, there will be times when we will be faced with situations where we will have to make a tough decision to follow Christ or give Him up. From a human perspective, Pilate was in a no win situation – if he stood with Jesus, it would likely bring devastating personal consequences; yet if he stood against Christ, he would have to live with the guilt and consequences of falsely condemning an innocent man. History reports that he wilted under the pressure to comply and chose the road most traveled instead of the road least traveled. He chose what was easy and convenient instead of choosing to stand with and for Christ.
When we are faced with a similar spiritual decision of followship, what do we tend to choose? In choosing to obey God, we can be certain it is going to be costly to someone. But what exactly is the real price of followship? Oswald Chambers reminds us, “If we are in love with our Lord, obedience does not cost us anything— it is a delight. But to those who do not love Him, our obedience does cost a great deal. If we obey God, it will mean that other people’s plans will be upset.” The simple truth is that following Christ is costly, but not following Christ is even more costly.
In following Christ, we will all have encounters where we will have to make a choice regarding what we are going to do with Jesus. Sometimes the challenge is going to come from without, while more often than not, the greatest challenge is going to come from within in the face of temptation and sin. Understanding this reality, we must be vigilant in our faith knowing that our human inclination all too often is to dictate to God what the results should be – and what would be acceptable to our will. Maybe this is why Dietrich Bonhoeffer once offered a penetrating statement regarding this challenge. He wrote, “When a man encounters Jesus he must do one of two things: Either he must die, or he must put Christ to death.” Either we will die to our will and embrace His will, or we will embrace of will and put Christ to death. Faith in Christ is a precious gift we must never surrender to the will of others no matter how much our faith decisions might affect the lives of people around us.
When we choose to follow Christ, while it will be a joy for us, our choice to follow will impact the lives around us. It will affect our spouses and children, our friends and colleagues, and even perfect strangers whose paths we cross. Why? Because when a person abandons their life to Christ, they no longer live according to an agenda of convenience or popular opinion, they live for a Person and cause greater than themselves. As such, we carry around in us the life and ministry of Christ which causes other people to cross paths with Jesus. And even while we are not Christ ourselves, the Spirit of God in us, living through us, supernaturally interrupts and disturbs the lives of others around us. It cannot be helped if we all living holy abandoned to the Savior.