Indecision. We all have experienced it at one time or another in our lives. Some decisions aren't all that significant, such as what to have for lunch or what to wear, while others have long-term significance, such as what career to pursue or whom to marry.
In Luke 23 we find a story of one man who struggled with the decision of a lifetime. His name was Pontius Pilate, a very indecisive man who allowed other people to make his decisions for him. Pilate grappled with the issue of what to do with Jesus.
This decision about Jesus was a lose-lose situation as far as Pilate was concerned. If he released Jesus, he would incur the wrath of the Sanhedrin and would probably lose his position (and possibly his life). If he crucified Jesus, he would appease the people, but would be doing the wrong thing.
Pilate was a moral relativist whose only core belief was self-preservation. He did not believe in absolute truth, yet standing before him that day was not just someone who had the truth, but who was the truth incarnate (John 14:6). Pilate faced the opportunity of a lifetime, but all he could think about was how to get rid of Jesus and get out of this situation.
He knew what was right. He knew Jesus was innocent. His wife even had sent him a message in which she warned him not to have anything to do with Jesus because of a dream she had. This only confirmed what he already knew: this man was innocent. What was he going to do? He knew he had to make a decision.
But Pilate had his power. He had his career. He didn't want to sacrifice it. These Jewish leaders obviously were bent on the destruction of Jesus, so Pilate ordered a basin of water and symbolically washed his hands and declared his innocence of the blood of Jesus. Then he sent Him away to be scourged and crucified.
Pilate really knew better, but he sold his soul for position, power, and prestige.
History tells us that within seven years of putting Jesus to death, Pontius Pilate was removed from high office by the governor of Syria. He was left broken, destitute, unwanted by Caesar, and all alone. Pilate went out into the night and hung himself. The very thing Pilate wanted to save was his career, but in the end, he lost both his career and his soul. He allowed indecision to rule and ultimately made the worst possible decision.
Pilate could have believed in Jesus that day. He had a choice in the matter. But he gave other things higher priority than Jesus.
While this is a story of a man who never put his faith in the Lord and missed the opportunity of a lifetime, Christians can learn some things from it as well. Many people say they follow Jesus, but in the pursuit of success, they sacrifice everything. They sacrifice their integrity. They sacrifice their standards. They sacrifice their friends. They even sacrifice their faith. In doing so, they follow the pattern of Pilate.
Others choose people over Jesus. They are more concerned about what is cool and acceptable than what God thinks. This is what Pilate did. He knew these religious leaders were wrong. He knew the fickle multitude was wrong. He knew Jesus was innocent. But he gave in to peer pressure when, deep down inside, he knew what was right.
The compromised life reaches no one. I look at people who have made commitments to Christ but have always lived a compromised life. They try to have it all. Often their marriages fall apart. Their families fall apart. Even their careers fall apart. The things they wanted so badly slip away.
Then I look at those who do what God wants. They live by the principles of Scripture. They are men and women of integrity and honesty. I see how God blesses them. Their example reminds me that it is better to be less than successful in the world's eyes and be obedient to God, because that is all that really matters in the end.
What if you give up something to follow Jesus? So you give it up. Whatever you give up will be restored to you in some way, shape, or form in this life and ultimately in the life to come. One day, when you look back, you won't regret that you decided to follow Jesus.
The story of Johnny Cash’s life and spiritual struggles offers hope to anyone who has had trouble staying on the straight and narrow path—and reminds us that God redeems broken lives and makes them whole again. My new book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon is a fascinating look at a unique and talented musician and follower of Christ!