The #6 Razorbacks were playing the #2 Oklahoma Sooners in the 1978 Orange Bowl. Both teams were 10-1, yet Arkansas was an 18-point underdog. But then Holtz suspended three top players for violation of team rules. Now Arkansas was a 24-point underdog!
Following the suspensions, the press was livid. 12 Arkansas players threatened not to play. But Holtz didn’t back down.
On January 2, 1978, Arkansas routed the Sooner 31-6 in one of the greatest upsets in college bowl history. Holtz was vindicated. And later voted into the college football Hall of Fame.
But win or lose, Coach Lou Holtz did what was right. He made a decision based on honor. Integrity. And truth.
Decisions. They’re some times hard to make. Especially when you don’t have good values. And are not guided by righteous principles.
That was the case on the Friday Jesus was sentenced to die. The Roman Procurator, Pontus Pilate, is faced with the most difficult decision of his life. He’s in the presence of an innocent man. And he knows it. Matthew records his perplexity, when Pilate asks,
“What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”
Pilate knew Jesus was not guilty of the trumped up charges of treason and sedition by the Jews. In fact, John wrote that Pilate “sought to release him.”
After examination Pilate said, to the chief priests and rulers, “I have found no fault in this Man…he has done nothing deserving of death” (Lk. 23:13).
A second time he tried to reason with the crowd but to no avail. (Matt 27:22).
Final for a third futile time Pilate responded, “Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go (Lk. 23:32).
Pilate’s decision would have been easier if he has listened to the voices of reason. Or the the voice of his own wife who warned him. It even seems the inner voice of his own conscience was telling him, “This is an innocent man!” And, of course, the voice of Jesus Himself affirmed it.
“You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (Jn 18:37)
But Pilate didn’t listen.
Instead he listened to the voices of public opinion. Voices of Envy. Voices of pride. Voices of position. And in the consternation and confusion of conflicting voices he was indecisive and sought a coward’s way out.
He first tried to ignore Jesus. But learned he couldn’t. Then He tried to shift the responsibility to someone else. But that didn’t work. In the midst of it all he even expressed his admiration for Jesus. But the crowd wouldn’t have it.
“They were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed.” So, in a futile attempt to remain neutral, he washed his hands of the matter.
“What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate’s indecision became a decision. One that undoubtedly haunted him until his dying day. In fact, in only three days, he learned he was wrong! The divine record doesn’t tell us, but I often wondered what Pilate felt when he learned of Jesus resurrection?!
And now almost 2000 years later, the question come to you. And me. “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”
What voices will you listen to? Unreasonable voices? Critical voices? Doubting voices? Unbelieving voices? Intolerant voices? Foolish voices?
Or will you listen to the voice of Jesus? He says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”
Just remember. It’s Friday. But Sunday’s coming!
–Ken Weliever, ThePreacherman