We're glad you're joining us for A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. Get more encouraging audio content when you subscribe to Pastor Greg's Daily Devos. Learn more and sign up at harvest.org. It's all about success.
Really? Nothing is more important than pleasing the Lord. Make that number one in your life. Some will sacrifice everything to climb the ladder of success. And then when they get to the top, they'll find it's pretty lonely.
And sometimes discover the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall. It's all about the decisions we make. Missionary Jim Elliott said, he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points to some unfortunate decisions made during the arrest and trial of Jesus in the first century. Here before us in John 18 is a story of an indecisive man. A man who let others do his thinking for him. A man who tried to appease a bloodthirsty fickle crowd in his own troubled conscience. He tried to find the middle ground and make everyone happy and his name was Pontius Pilate. Pilate was a little bit like that soldier in the Civil War. He couldn't decide what side he wanted to fight for. So he put on the coat of the north and the pants of the south. He went out on the battlefield and he ended up getting shot at from both sides. That's what happens to the man or the woman that lives in indecision. He was the consummate politician, Pontius Pilate. He was trying to appease everyone and thus made the worst imaginable decision.
A decision, no doubt, he regretted for the rest of his life. And here was the question that was brought to him and that is eventually brought to every man and every woman. What are you going to do with Jesus?
That's it. What are you going to do with Jesus? You know ultimately when we stand before God it won't be a sin question, it will be a son question.
S-O-N. In other words it won't be, well did you live a good life and did your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds and you get to heaven? Oh you have more bad deeds and good deeds and you go to hell.
Not at all. It's all about Jesus Christ. God's provision for us to get into heaven. Because conventional thinking is if we live good lives we'll get to heaven. If we live bad lives we'll go to hell. But here's the biblical truth. You can live, and some people don't like this, you can live a wicked life and at the very end repent of your sins and you can make it into heaven. That bugs some people unless you're the person who repented at the end.
And then you're very thankful. And then another thing that people don't like to hear is you can live a good life relatively speaking, a moral life and end up in hell if you reject God's provision for you to get into heaven who is Jesus Christ. So it's all about Jesus. Ok so here we are chronologically in the Gospel of John.
He's been arrested now. He's taken to the house of Caiaphas. He has already been cruelly beaten and rushed through a hastily prepared appearance before the religious elite of the day, the Jewish Sanhedrin. Having confirmed that Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah they sent him to Pontius Pilate. So let's read some verses together. John 18 starting in verse 28.
Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. Pilate asks a legitimate question, what are your charges against this man?
And as though their dignity is being impugned they respond, well we wouldn't have handed him over to you if he weren't a criminal. Well Pilate says then judge him according to your law. He just gave them permission to put Jesus to death if they wanted to. And by the way they did put people to death. They did it by stoning.
They stoned Stephen you remember the first martyr of the church. So they did have the authority especially in this situation to execute Jesus but they were saying no you do it. Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again called Jesus and said to him, are you the king of the Jews? Jesus answered, are you speaking for yourself about this or did others tell you this concerning me? Pilate answered, am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you to me.
What have you done? Jesus answers, my kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world my servants would fight so that I should not be delivered to the Jews. But now my kingdom is not from here. Pilate therefore said to him, well are you a king then? Jesus said, you rightly said I am a king. For this cause I was born. For this cause I have come into the world. And I should bear witness to the truth.
Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice. Pilate said to him, what is truth? And when he said this he went out again to the Jews and said to them, I find no fault in this man. We will stop there.
Wow powerful story. Now we have an interesting insight from another gospel Luke. Luke tells us that he said to the leaders, I find no basis for a charge against this man. And they responded by saying, he stirs up the people all around Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here. Oh that is not my jurisdiction. You are telling me this guy is from Galilee?
Oh that is a jurisdiction of my enemy Herod. And I can't think of something I would rather do than dump this on his doorstep. So Pilate thinks he is over this.
This is not a problem anymore. He has dealt with it and now Jesus is brought before him again. Someone says hey Jesus is back. By the way Herod sends his love. Here is Jesus again.
His heart sank. What is he going to do? Pilate has another idea. He remembers that there is a custom among the Jews to release a prisoner at Passover.
He says I will just go out to the crowds and I will say, oh who do you want me to release? Jesus the miracle worker. Jesus the one who feeds your empty stomachs.
Jesus the one with his wonderful teachings. Or this total creep Barabbas. Barabbas was an insurrectionist. Which is another way of saying he was sort of like a terrorist.
He had dedicated his life to the violent overthrow of Rome. No doubt Barabbas had killed many people and that is why he was going to be sent to a cross. So Pilate figures I will put you know Jesus out there and Barabbas out there. For sure the people are going to say free Jesus and then I can just say sorry. It was the will of the people religious leaders.
There was nothing I could do. But of course the religious leaders infiltrated the crowds and stirred them all up and said no. Call for Barabbas to be released.
I am sure Barabbas was really shocked that day when they said release Barabbas. Yes and that is exactly what happened. Now what is Pilate going to do? So he is trying to get out of this thing. He tries to hand them off to Herod.
That doesn't work. He tries to get them freed and they choose Barabbas over Jesus. And now to add to his misery his wife shows up. She says honey I had a dream about Jesus.
Have nothing to do with this just man. So Pilate was hearing a lot of voices on this day. He heard the voice of his wife who told him have nothing to do with Jesus. The voice of the bloodthirsty multitudes who cried out crucify him.
The voice of his own conscience no doubt. Attesting to the innocence of Christ. And then he heard the voice of Jesus himself. And Jesus says to Pilate everyone who is of the truth hears my voice. So what did Pilate do next? Over in Matthew 27 is the answer. Verse 24 Pilate saw he wasn't getting anywhere. And a riot was developing so he sent for a bowl of water. And he washed his hands before the crowd. And he said I am innocent of this man's blood.
The responsibility is yours. And the people responded let his blood be on us and on our children. That is like a lot of people again today. They just you know they want to put it off. They don't want to deal with it. And that is what Pilate was doing.
I am not going to deal with this issue. And that ended up damning his soul. He hardened his heart to the very voice of God.
Despite the fact that he knew that Jesus was innocent. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Whenever you reach out to us whether through email a letter or even a text message we read every word.
Hi Pastor Greg. I want to thank you for everything you do. If it wasn't for your messages I honestly believe my husband and I would no longer be married.
It's been difficult as my husband is in the military and we have a special needs child. One night when I was about to leave him he begged me to stay and watch your marriage sermons on YouTube. And so I did. Now when we go to bed we still watch your sermon videos but we don't use them to fall asleep of course. There's a lot I've obviously left out but I hope one day we can talk in person. In March we celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary because of God and you. Thank you and God bless. How encouraging that Pastor Greg's teachings and God's word has helped to save this marriage. Do you have a story to share? If so would you let us know? Tell us your story by calling 1-866-871-1144.
Again that's 866-871-1144. Well Pastor Greg is focusing on the arrest and trial of Jesus and how Pilate made some unfortunate choices. Choices which contributed to the death of Christ.
Let's continue. You know Pilate died a tragic death as well because we know historically that he was banished to Gaul by Caligula. And he suffered what appears to be a mental breakdown and he ultimately committed suicide.
We know that historically. So Pilate had his chance. Pilate as wicked as he was could have believed in the Son of God. He heard with his own ears the voice of God. But his craving for popularity and power was more important. We say what an idiot.
Yeah he was. But guess what? People do the same thing today. People choose other things over Christ. Some choose career over Jesus. That's what Pilate did effectively. His career. His political career was more important than Jesus Christ the very Son of God.
People do that today. Well my career is the most important thing in my life. I want to be successful. I don't care what it costs me. I don't care what it costs my family. I'll sacrifice my integrity. I'll sacrifice my standards. I'll even sacrifice my faith. Whatever I have to do to get ahead. It's all about success.
Really? It's not bad to want to succeed in your field of endeavor. But don't do it at the expense of your faith.
Because I believe whatever you do. If you will do it for the glory of God. The Lord will bless you. And if you can't do it for the glory of God.
Don't do it. And clearly there are some jobs you can't do for the glory of God. Okay? Yeah I feel God's calling me to rub binks and just pray. No. No. God's not going to bless that.
I'm feeling led to be a stripper. No. That's not going to work. No. Some things just can't go there.
Sorry. But there are other things you can do. And they're not ministry per se. But they're a vocation that you have a skill set for. And you can go there and work with integrity. And put in a good day's work. And be honest. And then as you advance.
Which you probably will if you work hard. You can give honor to the Lord. And use it as an opportunity to share your faith.
So you don't have to make a choice. But some people do. They choose career over Christ. Others choose people over Christ. People are more important than Jesus.
What their friends think are more important than what God thinks. You know think of the way people are in social media today. They're so worried about how many followers they have. How many followers do I have on Facebook now? How many likes did I get for that last post?
Oh I didn't get enough likes. And sometimes people will build these completely fake profiles of themselves. Like they're this effectively a virtual person. You don't even know what they look like because when they post a photo. They use all the little filters to look better right. Well this one makes me look thinner. And this one looks this way.
And so you do all the you know retouching and everything. And you have your perfect little life. We never take pictures of what we really look like.
Some people do but most don't. You don't get up in the morning and just woke up. I'm going to take a selfie and post this. That's my profile pic.
No you wait for the lighting to be right. Someone takes your picture and you say no take it again. No take it. I don't look.
I look fat in that picture. You know that's. Come on. We're so concerned.
You know just a thought. Those people that are your friends out there on Facebook. They're not your friends.
Those people that follow you on Twitter. They don't really care about you generally. So don't worry about all that. Don't let those things become more important to you than what God thinks. Look better to succeed in God's eyes and fail in the world's eyes. Nothing is more important than pleasing the Lord. Make that number one in your life. Make it your life's goal to please God. Put God first in everything that you do.
Jesus said seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added to you. What things? Well he was talking about what you're gonna eat. What you're gonna wear. All the things that we care about and in our case it could be where you're gonna live or what your future is or who you'll marry.
Whatever you're thinking about. All these things will be taken care of if you put God first. What does it mean to seek first the kingdom of God? It means study the Bible. Know what the Bible says about things and do what the Bible tells you to do.
That's it. You're gonna live a biblical life. Here's a promise Jesus made. Because one day his disciples said Lord, we've left everything to follow you. Listen to this promise of Christ because it applies to you. It says I assure you that everyone who's given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property for my sake and for the gospel's sake will receive now in return 100 times over houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, property with persecutions and in the world to come they will have eternal life for many who seem to be important now will be the least important then and those who are considered least here will be the greatest then.
Let me loosely paraphrase that. Whatever you give up to follow Christ will be replaced with something far better. He has something far better for you. God says no and God takes something out of your hands and you say that's not fair. God says just hang on now okay and he's gonna give you something better in its place and it may be in this life and it may not be in this life because there will be tragedies, there will be setbacks, there will be inexplicable things that happen to you that make no sense but God promises he will compensate, he will repay, he'll make it up to you and when we get to the afterlife we'll see how true that really is. It'll all be sorted out, it'll all be settled, it will all make sense.
So until that day my job, our job is to just walk closely with the Lord and put him first. Now Pilate, he had the ultimate opportunity. He had God standing in front of him and he said well I'm not gonna make a decision and he washed his hands. I wash my hands of this matter.
You can't wash your hands of Jesus. This is a neither or decision. This is a yes or no proposition. Jesus says you're either for me or against me so was Pilate for Christ or against him? He was against him. Well he didn't say he was against him, yes but by not being for him he turned him away, he was against him. So we might say well I'm not against Jesus, I just don't necessarily believe in all the things you guys say Jesus is but I sort of admire him. Well you're against him.
Well no you're putting words on my mouth. No, Jesus makes radical claims. He says that he is the very son of God. He says that he is the only way to heaven. He says there's no other way to heaven.
He says I am the way, the truth and the life and no man comes to the Father but by me. Now do you believe that? Then follow him. Or say I don't believe that and reject him and face the consequences but we try to carve out this little in between spot right? Well I believe it but I don't totally believe it but I don't totally disbelieve. Well you're just like the guy I mentioned with a coat of the north and the pants of the south.
You're getting shot at from both sides right? Get out of that stupid no man's land of indecision and make your decision and stop letting other people do your thinking for you. We do that all the time. Well I believe, wait what do I believe? We all look at each other. What do you believe? Believe in what God tells you to believe in. He gives you the standards, he gives you the absolutes and it may be popular and it may not be popular and generally it is unpopular by the way.
That doesn't matter, what matters is what's right. So in closing, your favorite part of the message I know, in closing for some of you. Jesus Christ is as much here with us right here right now as he stood before Pontius Pilate and the decision Pilate had to make, you have to make. Now I assume most of you here are Christians but not all of you are. Some of you are visiting for the first time, some of you haven't been to church in a long time, some of you maybe have come to this church but there's never been that moment where you said I am for Jesus. I am now going to follow Jesus.
You're beyond the I'm looking into it phase. You're now ready to say I want to be a Christian. I want Christ living inside of me and that can happen just like that.
And I want to close by extending an invitation for you to believe in Jesus and be forgiven of all of your sin. Think about it, Pilate was a wicked guy. He murdered a lot of people. He could have been forgiven and we could have seen him in heaven one day. Oh but he didn't want that. He wanted to be popular and he really wasn't even popular.
That's the irony is it all fell apart for him on top of everything else. Lose, lose. But when you believe in Jesus it's win, win.
You win in this life and in the life to come. But again as I said it's yes or no. Are you for Jesus or against him?
Make your decision right here, right now. Let's pray. Father thank you for your word to us. Thank you for your death Lord Jesus. On the cross and how you died there in our place and paid for all of our sins and now I pray for any here, any that are listening. Help them to see that this same proposition that Pilate faced is being faced by them. What will they do with Jesus? He stands at the door of our life and he knocks and says if we'll hear his voice and open the door he'll come in.
We can either open the door and ask him in or we can leave the door shut and in effect turn him away. I pray for anyone here that needs to open that door, that needs to believe Lord that you would help them to do it right now. We commit them to you now in Jesus name, amen. And if you'd like to make a change in your relationship with the Lord, Pastor Greg Laurie will help you do that in just a moment before today's edition of A New Beginning concludes.
Please stay with us. Well Pastor Greg we're so excited about your new book Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus. It's a look at the lives of dozens and dozens of well known music icons and the way their lives rose to the top and then often crashed to the bottom and the reasons for that. Now some of the people you talk about in the book obviously have passed on. Which one of them would be at the top of the list of those you'd like to meet and have a conversation with if that were possible?
Yeah that's a really good question. I wish, oh my, there's so many, so many. I think of Janice Joplin. Very talented young lady, harassed, made fun of when she was a young girl.
Extraordinarily talented. Died so young, 27. I wish I could have sat down with her and said Janice, God loves you. And even if others don't love you as they ought to, you are loved by the Lord and He has a plan and a purpose for your life. I wish I could have sat down with John Lennon and said John, you need to just follow Jesus. You've made a profession of faith in Him.
Now you need to just grow in your faith spiritually and continue on to discover all that God has in store for you. I wish I could have sat down with Jimi Hendrix, in my opinion the greatest guitar player who ever lived by accounts of people that knew him. He was a kind person. He was a humble person.
But he was a man who was searching as well. And I just wish I could have told these people that there's a God in heaven who loved them and had a plan for their life. I wish I could tell them that their life matters and so many people care so deeply about them. And I can't tell them that, unfortunately. But I can talk to people who are alive today, who maybe are despondent, who maybe have thought about taking their lives.
Some who have even attempted to take their lives and say, look, this is not the way you want to go. Here's the way you want to go. You want to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ and discover His plan for your life and get to know Him. And then you'll have that happiness and that peace that you've longed for throughout your entire life.
Yeah, yeah, that's right. And you know, there are some listening right now who have a close friend or loved one who's at that same crossroad today. They need to hear that message of hope. Let us send you a copy of this new book, Lennon, Dillon, Alice and Jesus. Read it yourself and then pass along this good news to the person you care about. It's a strong wake-up call and it's a message of hope. And we'd like to send the book your way to thank you for your investment in Harvest Ministries and A New Beginning.
We're listener supported and without listener partnership, we simply couldn't be here each day. We're so grateful for your generosity. And when you make your donation today, we'd like to thank you with Pastor Greg's new book, Lennon, Dillon, Alice and Jesus. So call us at 1-800-821-3300. That's a 24-hour phone number, 1-800-821-3300.
Or go online to harvest.org. Pastor Greg, you spoke today about having a relationship with the Lord. Someone can enter into that kind of relationship with God right now, can't they? Yeah, they really can. That's the amazing thing. I think people are surprised that it doesn't take years to become a Christian. It doesn't take months. It doesn't take weeks. It doesn't take days.
It doesn't even take hours. You can believe on the spot. And I would like to lead you in a prayer where you can ask for His forgiveness, a prayer where you can receive Jesus Christ into your life as your Savior and Lord. So if you want Christ to come into your life, if you want Him to forgive you of your sin, if you want a second chance in life, if you want to go to heaven when you die, stop what you're doing and pray after me these words. Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner, and I'm sorry for my sin.
And I turn from it now, and I choose to follow you from this moment forward. As Savior and Lord, as God and friend, thank you for loving me and calling me and forgiving me. In Jesus' name I pray, amen. Amen. And listen, if you have just prayed those words with Pastor Greg and meant them sincerely, the Bible assures us your sins have been forgiven.
We're told the Lord is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And we want to send some resource materials to you that will help you in this new relationship with the Lord. We call it our New Believers' Growth Packet, and we'll send it without charge if you prayed for the first time today with Pastor Greg. Just ask for it when you call 1-800-821-3300. We are here around the clock to take your call.
That's 1-800-821-3300. Or go to harvest.org and click on Know God. Well, next time, Pastor Greg brings us the greatest sermon ever preached.
It may sound a little boastful, but I'll let him explain next time. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Lord. This is the day, the day when life begins. Hey, everybody. Thanks for listening to A New Beginning. This is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. So for more content that can help you know God and equip you to make Him known to others or to learn more about how you can become a Harvest Partner, just go to harvest.org.
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