The Cross and Confrontation

The stones of the Pavement outside of Pilate’s Praetorium were chilled with the early morning dew. The chill, however, did not compare to the coldness in the hearts of the priests and the Sanhedrin. They were unrelenting in their purpose, as they brought their rejected Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, to Pilate for execution. The Roman Proconsul stepped pompously onto his elevated step, the bema, to render a sentence. Already he had questioned the Jews and interviewed Jesus. Already he had declared with authority, “I find no fault in this man.” Already, he had confronted them with a choice between Jesus and Barabbas. Their frenzied response was, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now, one last time, Pilate emerged from his palace. He brought Jesus, who had been flogged, robed in purple and crowned with thorns. Pilate confronted the angry mob once again with the pronouncements, “I find no guilt in Him” and “Behold the man!” They were unmoved from their homicidal intent as they responded defiantly, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!” A public confrontation of truth and justice occurred that morning, and there was no denying the choice of the crowd to reject the Lord Jesus Christ.

One week earlier, two despised men in the midst of a crowd found themselves confronted with Jesus of Nazareth. Bartimaeus met Jesus on the road outside of Jericho. The crowd had warned this son of Timaeus to quiet down as he called out for mercy. They told him to stop troubling the Master. Another man, Zacchaeus, met Christ within Jericho. In fact, he climbed a tree to facilitate the meeting. As the Lord Jesus confronted him, Zacchaeus was commanded to “come down” and to receive the Lord to his home. The same crowd that told Bartimaeus to be quiet was now scandalized that Christ would sit at the table of Zacchaeus. Have you been confronted by Christ? Is there a day when you received Him, or did you turn away and allow the opportunity to pass?

In our day the Lord Jesus Christ is enthroned in heaven and is no longer walking through towns. Yet, when the gospel is presented, men and women are confronted with a choice just as those who stood before Him in Jericho and Jerusalem. You likely know that the gospel message presents an invitation, an opportunity, and a reconciliation through the work of Christ. But the gospel is also a confrontation. The gospel confronts our preconceived ideas about the necessity and method of salvation. It challenges us to yield to the scrutiny and authority of Scripture. Dear reader, is it possible that in your life you have been confronted by the gospel and yet have turned away?

Just a few weeks after the death of the Lord Jesus, the apostle Peter stood before a crowd and confronted them with the risen Lord. Many who heard Peter speak that day had been present at the Praetorium with Pilate. Let me commend the truth of Peter’s message to you now: “‘God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.’  Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’” (Act 2:36-37 NKJV). What will you do?