The scene is a high school assembly where I was speaking. I've asked five students to come on stage with me. One young man is blindfolded and standing in the middle of his four friends. They form a square around the blindfolded guy - one has a $10 bill to give him - if he chooses to come to their corner of the square. The problem is the other three are going to tell him they have the $10 - even though they don't. In fact, they each have something else to give Mr. Blindfold if he comes to their corner. One has a super-soaker squirt gun to baptize him with, one has a full trash can to dump in his arms, and the other has a whipped cream pie to put in his face. This poor young man in the center knows three of his friends will be lying about having the money, one will be telling the truth - but he has to decide, sight unseen, which corner he will go to. They each make their convincing pitch for why what he wants is in their corner. Then, he has to decide which voice he will follow. Right choice - he walks away better off. Wrong choice - uh, messy ending!
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Voices and the Choices."
You have to make those kinds of choices all the time. That's what I point out to the kids in that assembly. You're surrounded by voices urging you to come their direction. There's a lot of pressure on you from a lot of directions. You may have the voices of your parents urging you to go a certain direction, your friends, your company, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your church, the culture around you, the voice of financial security. If you thought you'd lose the peer pressure problem when you left your teenage years, welcome to reality. Your whole life you have a peer group around you - and each peer group has its values and pressures - voices that are saying, "Do it our way - and we'll give you something good."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Luke 23:22. Roman governor is there. He believes in Jesus' innocence but he's facing the voices of many people who want Jesus to be treated as if He's guilty. Here's what the Bible says, "For the third time he spoke to them: ... 'I have found in Him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore, I will have Him punished and then release Him.' But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that He be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for...murder; the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will."
Unbelievable. The murderer will go free and the sinless Son of God will be executed. Pilate knew what was right. He told them what he thought was right. But when it came down to deciding what to do, their shouts prevailed. He let the pressure push him into abandoning what he knew was right - and abandoning Jesus.
But then - haven't we all been Pilate? We've caved in to the pressure, didn't stand for what was right and sold out our Savior. We listened to a voice or voices other than Jesus. We can't have those moments of compromise back. But we can bring them to the Lord repentantly, and claim His forgiveness. And pledge to Him that His will be the voice we follow in our choices. On your knees, in His Book with no other voice around, you ask with no conditions, "Lord, what would You have me to do?" He won't yell like some of the other voices - but His gentle voice will say, "Follow Me this way."
Like that young man listening to the pitches of his four friends, following the wrong voices will lead to an unhappy outcome. But there is one voice you can trust - who waits to hand you life with no regrets, no guilt, no kickback. Don't do a Pontius Pilate - and let the other voices make you betray Jesus, the One who loves you the most.