Near the end of our church service each Sunday morning we have what is traditionally known as the “Altar Call.” For some of you it has been or still is a white knuckle on the pew experience. It is at this time when we are confronted face to face with Jesus. You make the decision or not. For those who do not you might think you need time to think it over. It is not like deciding on buying a couch. This is your eternal destiny you are facing. The hesitation is understood but many a Christian knows how deadly the consequences can be in waiting.
While reading a sermon of Dwight Moody given in the spring of 1871 he personally stresses the urgency of making the decision for Christ now. He had preached to one of the biggest crowds he had ever preached to in Chicago. Instead of making an Altar Call he asked the crowd to think about it and return the following week. It was one of Moody’s greatest regrets. Moody points out the plight that Pilate faced in Matthew 27:11-26.
Pilate was faced with what to do about Jesus. When we experience that white-knuckle grip on the pew we too are faced with the same decision. Pilate knew who Jesus was. It was hard not too. He was governor and anything happening in Jerusalem the Roman governor would have been informed. Pilate knew whom he was dealing with. His wife had warned him in verse 19. Many speculate that Pilate’s wife’s dream may have been about him in front of the Seat of Judgment. That alone should strike fear into one’s heart. Whatever the dream it was serious enough for her to intervene. As a General in the Roman army Pilate had crushed many an opposing force. Pilate had executed many men before. Why should this one be any different unless he knew the truth about Jesus? Pilate even tried to do away with his responsibility for the death of Jesus in verse 24. In Matthew 27:3-4 Judas admits to betraying an innocent man. In the same chapter, verse 54 even the Roman officer declared Jesus as the Son of God. They all knew who Jesus really was!
So if they knew who Jesus was then why did they continue in what they did? The same reason we failed to release our grip on the pew during the Altar Call. The reason is PRIDE. We know the truth. Pilate allowed his pride to stop him. He wanted to please Rome and the Jewish authority over what he knew was right. We too worry what others might think. You might have been a Christian for years and suddenly the Holy Spirit takes you in its grip calling you forward yet we resist. What will others say? How might this look? What will others think of me? These are all words from the Devil and not of God.
Pilate was suddenly face to face with Jesus. The decision had to be made right then and there. We too face that same decision. As Dwight Lyman Moody said in that “The Fire Sermon” of 1871, “There never will be a time when we can do more for Christ than now.”