Life is full of big decisions. Some are easy. Some are hard. Some are trivial. Some are pivotal. A farmer hired a man to work for him. His first job was to paint the barn which should take him 3 days to complete but he finished in 1 day. His next job was to cut wood, which should take him 4 days, but he finished in a day and a half. Then he had him sort potatoes – seed potatoes, feed for hogs, market potatoes. Since it was small, it should take him ½ a day. By the end of the day he had barely started. When asked why, the farm hand said, “I can work hard, but I can’t make decisions.”
Many of us have had decisions that we knew for sure were the right thing to do, but they were sure hard to make. The results of those decisions are challenging to live with. In fact, many people decide to do the wrong thing and get themselves in further trouble.
Pilate and Herod were confronted and were sure of the innocence of Jesus. But neither of them set Him free. Knowing right thing to do, they didn’t do it. Many people don’t do the right thing when they know what should be done.
Why do people not do the right thing?
Pilate met an Innocent King and tried to avoid a decision
And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King. And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it. Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place. When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean. And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time. (Luke 23:1-7)
Pilate tied for the longest of 14 Roman governors over Judea (11 yrs.). The Jewish leaders found Jesus guilty of blasphemy and deserved death. But to have Him killed, they needed the Roman court to find him guilty of a capital crime. They leveled three charges: 1- pervert nation (no grounds), 2- oppose tax (false), 3- claims to be a king (true). So Pilate asked if Jesus were “King of the Jews” He answered, ”You said so”, which avoids answering the question while admitting the truth – He was King of the Jews. But Pilate returned to the Jews, “I find no fault in Him’. There was no evidence of guilt. Rather than making a difficult decision, He tried to pass the buck to Herod.
President Harry Truman had a small sign, 2 ½ “ by 13” on his desk in the White House Oval Office. On one side it read, “I’m from Missouri”. On the other side it read, “The Buck Stops Here!” Passing the Buck is an expression that originated with the game of poker. In the frontier days, a buckhorn handled knife was used to indicate the person whose turn it was to deal. If the player didn’t want to deal, he could ‘pass the buck’ to the next player. Harry Truman recognized that he had no one to pass the buck to. The buck stopped with him.
But weren’t the religious leaders more guilty since they insisted on Jesus’ guilt? Yes. Pilate proclaimed the innocence of Jesus three times and tried to appease their anger. Though others can be blamed, He still had the responsibility and distinction of being the one to condemn Jesus to death. The buck stopped with him. Some responsibilities you cannot pass to others.
What can we learn? Rather than pass the buck, do what you know you ought to do. Do the right thing.
Herod met a Silent Sufferer but tried to get a performance.
And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves. This trial before Herod is only mentioned in Luke. This is the same Herod who killed John the Baptist. He wanted a show and was disappointed. He wanted to see Jesus do something, but not to hear Him. Herod is the only person Jesus refused to talk to. So, he dressed Him up on a Jewish king’s royal robe and made fun of Him and sent Him back to Pilate. The two became friends, but Herod lost his soul. (Luke 23:8-12)
This trial before Herod is only mentioned in Luke. This is the same Herod who killed John the Baptist. He wanted a show from Jesus and was disappointed. He wanted to see Jesus do some miracle, but not to hear Him. Herod is the only person Jesus refused to talk to. So, he dressed Him up in a Jewish king’s royal robe and made fun of Him and sent Him back to Pilate. The two became friends, but Herod lost his soul. Herod didn’t think this was an important decision and didn’t do the right thing.
I can remember when my children attended Lenawee Christian School and we would attend Parent/Student Orientation. Larry Thompson made a comment that I distinctly remember. As a driving instructor, he noticed that almost all his students would roll stop signs – never coming to a complete stop. He wondered why until he noticed their parents in the parking lot of the school would roll right through the stop signs. Then he said to us parents, “You may not think it that important that you stop at stop signs. But if you want your children to stop, you need to set the example.” A decision may seem trivial. But often ‘trivial’ decisions can make a pivotal impact.
It doesn’t seem right that Jesus wouldn’t talk to Him. But God did try to talk to Him through John the Baptist and Herod wouldn’t listen. Herod had silenced the voice of God through His prophet so now God’s Son would be silent to him.
Don’t trivialize the right thing to do. Every decision is important. We may rationalize “Nobody sees me. It doesn’t matter. I can do right next time.” But regardless of how we excuse our behavior, we should always do the right thing.
There is a statue in Brooklyn of Pee Wee Reese’s arm around Jackie Robinson. It commemorates an event that may have happened at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. As the first black player in the Major Leagues, Jackie Robinson faced extreme prejudice. Teammate Pee Wee Reese was a popular All-Star from nearby Kentucky and had many fans and family at the game. During the pregame infield practice, a barrage of racial slurs were made at Jackie Robinson by the Cincinnati fans. The story is told that Reese came up to Jackie Robinson for a casual conversation, and put his arm around his teammate’s shoulder. The gesture stunned and silenced the crowd. He did the right thing!