And when Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the multitude saying, I am innocent of this man's blood, see to that yourselves.
 And all the people answered and said ... his blood be on us and our, and on our children.
 Then he released Barabbas for them, but after having Jesus scourged he delivered him to be crucified.
 Here then is this man who has this very unusual interview with Jesus ... Pilate the hard hearted and hard headed governor of Judea, the representative of Caesar the might of imperial Rome ... and he has upon his hands for trial a man whom he is convinced is innocent.
 A man has been falsely accused, a man who is standing in a court against trumped up charges.
 A man concerning whom Pilate has to pronounce a verdict.
 It's up to him.
 Jesus can either physically live or die.
 The decision rests with Pilate.
 Now he's tried to shift the responsibility, and that's something we're all good at doing, we like shifting the responsibility, whether it's in even the very tiny things in life, or whether it's major issues, we like to shift the responsibility to other people, then if it goes wrong ... we're alright, our hands are clean, we we'll have nothing to do with it.
 And so, Pilate he tries to do this, he tries first of all to shift the responsibility, and he does it by different methods, first of all he sends into Herod, the king ... then he suggests that Barabbas should be released to the people, now however, both of these methods of shifting responsibility have failed and the ball is firmly back ... with Pilate.
 He has got to take the next action, it's up to him now.
 It's no good sending him to Herod, he's found that out.
 No good suggesting to the people they release Barrabas cos they said, we don't want Barabbas.
 Now, Jesus has come back again upon his hands, and he Pilate is faced with this tremendous decision.
 The voice of conscience is thundering in his soul ... and he stands before this huge crowd of people.
 A few moments ago there they were shouting, away with him!
 Crucify him!
 We don't want him!
 Take him away!
 Put him to death!
 In front of them he gets a bowl of water and he ... washes his hands ... says I'm free from this innocent man's blood.
 Well of course, he wasn't free.
 You need more than a bowl of water to solve your, to salve your conscience and to, and to be free from innocent blood.
 But what a dramatic scene this is!
 But you see the important thing about this scene is not what is taking place there ... it's not really that Pilate is standing in, in the trial as the judge of Jesus, it's not that Pilate has i , within his hands the power of life and death for Jesus, that's not the important issue, that's not the real significance of this incident, the real significance is that every one of us at some time or other stand in the same place that Pilate stood.
 That's the real significance for you and for me.
 It's not just an event in history two thousand years ago, something that happened way back i in a back water of the Roman empire, that's not the really important issue for you and for me today ... it's, the important thing is that you and I ... have to stand in that same place that Pilate stood ... and we have to make that same decision, what will I do then with Jesus that is called the Christ?
 That is the decision you have to face up to, that's the decision I have to face up to .
 We can put it off for a while, we can say I'll leave it till I'm older, I'll leave it till some other time, I don't want to make that decision now.
 We may be able to put it off for a while, but make that decision, we have got to, some day or another.
 What will I do with Chri , with Jesus that is called Christ?
 What will you do?
 How will you respond?
 Will you send him to the gallows?
 I don't want anything to do with him, take him away!
 Have done with him!
 Or will you respond positively, yes I will receive you, I will you accept you.
 But that is the decision every one of us has to make, and that is the real significance of this scene here in Jerusalem.
 It speaks to you and it speaks to me of our attitude, of our response towards Jesus Christ.
 And as we look over these next few minutes, we'll consider that it was Pilate who rejected and who crucified the Lord Jesus.
 It is of course, true that, although Pilate pronounced the verdict ... Jesus was already, as the bible says, a lamb slain from before the foundation of the world.
 In God's purposes Jesus had already gone to the cross, he was alre ,hi his, his natural fate if you like, was already sealed, he had come for this purpose, he had come to die.
 There were that tremendous sense in which Jesus had to die.
 There was sense in which, it wasn't really in Pilate's hands, because Jesus had said to him, if I wanted I would speak to my father, he would send ten legions of angels and they would deliver me out of your hands, Pilate, you have no power over me.
 You see, the real issue for Pilate wasn't what he was gonna do with Jesus, as far as the cross was concerned ... it was what he was gonna do with Jesus as far as his life was concerned.
 And that's the issue that you face, and that I face.
 What do we do with Jesus that is called the Christ?
 The soldiers of Judas betrayed him, the soldiers arrested him,th the the the scenario works out, it all unfolds ... they nail him to a cross.
 As a nation the Jews are responsible for his death, but it was Pontius Pilate who delivered him to be crucified, who announced the verdict, who pronounced the sentence.
 But was it?
 Later on in the bible, in Hebrews chapter six, in verse six, listen to these words.
 It says it is impossible to new the ma , renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves ... the son of God and to put him to open shame.
 This surely, whatever else it means, this, for this scripture here surely means that those people who had the opportunity of accepting Christ, of responding to him, but who have rejected him, they are in exactly the same position as Pontius Pilate.
 Before you and I can ever point a finger to Pilate, what have you done, what have I done with Jesus that is called Christ?
 In rejecting him we share that same guilt, that Pilate had.
 Well let's just consider for a moments then this morning, in in some of the ways in which we can be like Pilate ... the first thing I see here is that Pilate ... rejected the Lord Jesus Christ although he had tremendous opportunities of doing otherwise.
 Of all the thousands, the tens of thousands of people who lived in Palestine, of all the thousands of people who were crowded into Jerusalem, for this religious festival ... here is Pilate in this favoured position of having a personable, personal face to face encounter with Jesus Christ.
 He can ask all the questions he wants to ask, he can find out the answers, not from ... a third party, but from Jesus Christ himself!
 Is it true what folk are saying?
 Is it true the things that you've been declaring about yourself?
 The miracles you've done, are they true, or are they just tricks?
 Tell me about yourself.
 All the opportunities that Pilate had ... and in front of, and despite all of those opportunities he still rejects the Lord Jesus.
 There are few people who are, who have had a more unique opportunity of welcoming Christ into their life, than Pilate had.
 Over these, over those few hours ... many times Pilate was faced with the Lord Jesus, and he recognized who he was.
 Pilate had the opportunity of coming to him, but instead he delivered Jesus to be crucified.
 How many people there are who have many opportunities of accepting Christ.
 They hear about him, again and again, and still they, as the bible says, harden their heart and continue to reject him ... just like Pilate.
 The tragedy is that life has now become complex and involved, and they wonder if they can ever break themself from all those things that are now hindrances.
 Break themself from all those things that hold them and that captivate them and hold their interest.
 It is always a most solemn thing to turn down an opportunity of accepting Jesus Christ.
 It is not something, oh well I didn't feel like it, it is not a light hearted thing, because it is the most fantastic, the most solemn ... the most ... life-changing decision we can ever, ever make!
 Let me read you two or three other verses from that same book of Hebrews that we read from a few moments ago.
 First of all in chapter three and in verse seven, it says [reading] therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, today if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts  .
 It goes on and uses the picture of the children of Israel in the wilderness, how they harden their hearts.
 It says don't be like that, don't harden your hearts when you hear his voice.
 Further on in that same book in chapter twelve ... and verse twenty five ... [reading] See to it that you do not refuse him, that is, the Lord Jesus who is speaking, for if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less shall we escape who turn away from him, who warns from heaven? 
 The apostle here gives two very clear and very solemn warnings about rejecting Jesus, about turning a deaf ear to him.
 ... You see, the bible tells us, God isn't mocked.
 In chapter two of Hebrews, in verse two, for if, in verse three sorry!
 It says there, [reading] how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation  , if we ignore God's offer, if we ignore ... the ga , the the offer of Jesus Christ, of forgiveness and of life, how shall we escape? the apostle asks.
 Pilate then, he rejected the Lord Jesus despite the tremendous opportunities he had.
 Then again, he rejected the Lord Jesus knowing full well that he was doing wrong.
 He did not reject Jesus out of ignorance, because he knew who he was.
 He was convinced that he was innocent.
 In another account of cro , of the, of the trial of Jesus, in Luke, chapter twenty three, in verse four, [reading] Pilate said to the chief Priest and the multitudes, I find no guilt in this man.
 He said er, I find nothing in him worthy of death  .
 More than that, Pilate believed that he was the King of the Jews, that's why he had it written up and put over his cross.
 Jesus, the King of the Jews.
 And when the folk remonstrated with him,an and said take it down!
 He's not the King of the Jews, put it up, he said he was the King of the Jews.
 Pilate said hold on, what I have written, I have written.
 He's saying I believe in what I've written there.
 How solemn it is to believe that Jesus is the son of God, the saviour of the world, and yet to reject him.
 To be a Christ rejecter, is to be in the same position as Pilate was in.
 To know that's it right to receive him, and wrong to reject him, and yet to join with the crowd and say, away with him!
 Crucify him!
 Then again, Pontius Pilate, he rejected the Lord Jesus, although he was entreated and warned not to do so by his loved one.
 Legend tells us that ... after Pilate committed suicide ... his wife became a christian.
 But, at this particular time there is no indication that she was one.
 But, a marvellous thing happened ... whilst the trial is going on ... don't forget, it's in the dead of night ... and whilst the trial is going on there is ... Pilate's wife at home in bed sleeping, and she has a dream, and seemed as though God spoke to her, and she saw and recognized the awful deed that her husband was about to commit, so she sent an urgent message to him ... that is, you've got it in ... ve ve verse nineteen ... have nothing to do with that righteousness man for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of him.
 Maybe in your life there are those around you, friends, families ... who love you and er, and er, who are urging you to respond to Jesus Christ and to receive him as your saviour.
 That was a similar sort of situation that Pilate was in.
 His wife says, don't do what you're gonna do!
 Don't don't put this man to death!
 He is an innocent man!
 The tragedy is that ... Pilate still rejected the Lord Jesus, although his loved one appealed to him not to do so.
 How many folk there are who continue to reject Jesus.
 Although families and friends urge them to turn to him and to respond to him, and to receive him.
 But then again, Pontius Pilate rejected the Lord Jesus and thought that in doing so he had got rid of him.
 Do you know that was one of the biggest mistakes ever made in his life!
 You cannot get rid of Jesus Christ that easily.
 You cannot do it.
 One poet wrote a poem called the Hound of Hell ... in which he pictures ... Francis Thompson, the na name of the poet, in which he he pictures Je , er God ... pursuing men and women ... down through the corridors and labyrinths of time, down throughout their life, relentlessly pursuing ... and no matter how much you try and give God the slip, there he is, he will pursue you, he will seek you out, he desires to to ca , for you to come to know him, and you cannot get rid of God that easily!
 You cannot chase Jesus Christ away easily.
 He is not easily put off.
 You see, in the first place, he is the one who takes the initiative to seek you.
 Jesus said the son of man is come to seek and save that which is lost.
 He takes the initiative to seek you.
 To start pursuing you.
 To start drawing you to himself.
 And he is the one, and he alone is the one who will take the initiative to call it off.
 There's that very, very solemn warning back in Genesis ... for God says, my spirit will not always strive with man.
 It's God who stops us striving.
 You don't, you don't put God off.
 You don't scare him away.
 It's God who takes that initiative to withdraw from seeking you.
 And Pilate made this tremendous mistake, he thought he had got rid of Jesus.
 And the gospel said the record in which Pilate tried to escape the responsibility that was thrust upon him.
 First he sent him to the Jews to be tried as they said, then he sent him Herod ... then Pilate thought, if I scourge him that will satisfy them, let me just give him a beating and the folk will be happy and ... it'll be alright.
 But that didn't work either.
 Finally ... he delivers him off to be crucified, and he takes that bowl of water and washes his hands ... thinking he's absolved from guilt, but you don't get rid of Jesus that easily.
 It takes more than a bowl of water to get rid of Jesus Christ ... seeking you out ... to follow him and to receive him.
 Pilate knew that it would be a sin against God.
 He knew that it's a sin against himself, his own soul, he knew that what he was doing was against justice, it was against the advice of his wife, it was against everything within him ... and yet he still pursues this, this cause of having Jesus put to death.
 He tried therefore, to evade the issue but he couldn't do it.
 He still has Jesus on his hands ... the position is the same for every non-christian, for every unconverted person ... you still have Jesus on your hand ... you can't get rid of him that easily.
 You can blot him out of your mind for a while, you can go your own way and forget about him, you cannot get rid of Jesus Christ and his claims that easily.
 You must do something with Jesus.
 Jesus himself said, while he was here on earth, that, it's in Matthew chapter twelve and verse thirty, [reading] he who is not with me ... is against me  .
 You're either for me or you're against me, you can't be neutral.
 Then Pilate rejected the Lord Jesus, we find for very unworthy reasons.
 After all, any reason that leads us to keep Christ out of our hearts is an, is an unworthy one.
 What were the motives?
 What were the reasons that prompted, and motivated Pilate?
 Well, undoubtedly, there was first of all the love of position ... he was after all, the ra , the governor, he was the representative of Rome ... and he loved his position!
 And the folk had said to him, if you release this man you are no friend of Caesar's.
 What about your position?
 And that's still something that comes again and again when men and women, when you and I are confronted with the claims of Jesus ... what about this?
 What about the job?
 What about the position?
 What about your friends?
 What about your family?
 What will folk say?
 We find that there is no reason that stands scrutiny for our rejecting Christ, they all crumble.
 Bring the very best reason you can against why you should not accept Christ and once you put it under the ga , under the scrutiny ... it just disintegrates.
 It's worthless.
 And there no reason, there is no worthy reason, there is no valid reason that you or I or any other person on the face of the earth has for rejecting Jesus Christ.
 ... He may well have been scorned, he may well have lost his job ... bad word may have got back to Rome, they may have sent the telegrams back to Caesar telling him all about Pilate, but it wasn't sufficient reason for him rejecting Christ.
 Another is, linked with that, it's the fear of men, and here again, we see that with Pilate, he lacked the courage of his own convictions ... and in this respect this story's absolutely up-to-date ... in the vast majority of cases people who say no, I will not receive Jesus ... it is not because of so called intellectual doubts, that is only an excuse, because his reasoning his far above our reasoning.
 The real reason is I am frightened what folk will say, or I do not want to give up this particular habit of mine.
 A wise man back in Proverbs, he reminds us and he puts this solemn warning, and he reminds there and he says ... i in Proverbs, chapter twenty nine and verse twenty five, [reading] the fear of man brings a snare  .
 Do you know it is possible ... because of the fear of people around you, the fear of your peers, the fear of what men may say, of what your family will think, of what your work mates might say about you, it is possible to allow that fear to send you to hell.
 Nobody on a natural level is that stupid!
 Nobody on a natural level is that foolish.
 And we take out contingency plans fo for various things, you'll take out insurance, er against your house being broken into, against there being a fire or something else, you'll take out insurance policies, or or assurance policies against your life, so that your dependants will be provided for, you'll take out pe , er pension plans so that in your old age when you're not working you'll have sufficient money to live on.
 We make these plans on an natural level, and yet, we do not plan for the most important event of all time, when we will stand before God ... and he will ask that question, what have you done with Jesus that is called the Christ?
 And we make no plans for that.
 What are you gonna say then?
 I didn't think it mattered.
 I was frightened what people would say.
 I was concerned for my family.
 I thought that I would ridiculed.
 I couldn't give up this.
 I couldn't stop that.
 ... There is no reason, there is no valid reason for rejecting Jesus.
 Pontius Pilate, also he rejects the Lord Jesus and in doing so he hated himself for it.
 Let me read you the, what happened immediately after ... Pilate's evil deed, after he had delivered Jesus to be crucified.
 Pilate standing on, you imagine ... knowing that he has delivered up an innocent man, knowing that he's delivered to death someone who is not guilty of death, knowing that he is the son of God, the King of the Jews, listen to what he says ... and th listen to what he's watch, he's seeing rather ... [reading] and the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around him and they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after weaving a crown of thorns they put it on his head and reed in his right hand, and they kneeled down before him and mocked him saying, hail!
 King of the Jews!
 And they spat on him, and took the reed and began to beat him on the head, and after they had mocked him they took his robe off and put his garments on them and led him away to be, to crucify him. 
 And Pilate standing there watching in awe, knowing that he is the one who is guilty for allowing this to happen ... hating himself for it!
 Why did I do it?
 Why didn't I have the courage to release him?
 As Pilate stands watching, watching Jesus being humiliated, watching him being tormented ... that thought going through the mind, I am responsible for this, I am guilty of it, I have done it!
 Course he hated himself for it, just as every person who is not a christian will hate themselves because they had, anything to do with that crowd who had cried out, away with him!
 Crucify him!
 How solemn it is to take sides with the enemies of Christ.
 Oh, but you say, I I wouldn't do a thing like that!
 Remember what we read, what Jesus said?
 If you're not for me, you're against me.
 You can't be indifferent.
 You can't be on middle ground, there is no neutral territory.
 You know, very often when you go from one country to another ... you go through an area of re , what is called no man's land, you come through from one frontier and then you've got a distance and you come to the next frontier ... that doesn't exist as far as accepting or rejecting Christ is concerned.
 There's one simple boundary and that's all there is to it.
 You're either for me, says Jesus, or you're against me.
 You're with me, or with my enemies.
 It's as simple, as straightforward as that.
 And to reject Jesus is to take sides with his enemies.
 It's to say with the crowd, away with him!
 Crucify him!
 We will not have this man!
 I will not have him to rule over me!
 And finally, Pilate rejected the Lord Jesus, and in so doing ... he sealed his own doom.
 Not so very long after this incident Pilate ... was removed from Jerusalem, and in A D thirty six he committed suicide.
 Anyone, whether it was Pilate then, or you or me today, who rejects and crucifies Christ afresh, seals his or her own doom.
 Listen to what Jesus himself says in John, chapter three ... in verse eighteen, [reading] he who believes in him  , that is in Jesus, [reading] is not judged.
 He who does not believe has been judged already because he has not believed in the name of the only son of God  .
 And over in the last verse in that chapter it says, [reading] he who believes in the son, has eternal life ... but he who does not obey the son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him  .
 Just as surely as, Jesus had an interview with Pilate in the judgement hall ... so now he has an interview with you and with me.
 Do we crown him?
 Or do you crucify him?
 Do you accept him?
 Or do you reject him?
 Do you welcome him?
 Or do you spurn him?
 The story is told of one time ... Archbishop of Paris, who with ... two or three other of his friends as young lads they went into the great cathedral there at Notre Dame