Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 13, 1955

Let Him Be Crucified

T. B. Larimore

And the governor said, "Why, what evil hath he done?" But they cried out the more, saying, "Let him be crucified." (Matt. 27:23)

We have a sad and shameful scene in the life of our Savior presented for our consideration in the language quoted. We have upon the bench as judge, the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, holding that position by the grace and favor of Tiberius Caesar, the Roman emperor, who had been then for about twenty years occupying the throne of the great Roman empire. Before this judge stands the Savior — pale, sad, troubled, pure, self-sacrificing and ready to sacrifice life itself; a personage such as had never been upon the earth before and was never to be on the earth again — the immaculate Son of the living God — a prisoner on trial for his life before that judge, surrounded by a tumultuous mob, thirsting and clamoring for the blood of the prisoner.

As Jesus stood there before Pontius Pilate, being tried for his life, he could look back one-third of a century and almost feel the breath of heaven upon his brow — that breath laden with the perfume of flowers that bloomed in the garden of God; could remember that then every flower that bloomed in that paradise on high, every breeze that fluttered the foliage of the tree of life, every world in existence, every atom in space, belonged to him, while angels and archangels around the throne of God cast their crowns before him, and the stars were but glittering dust beneath his feet. Yet he had sacrificed all these things; had come to this world and become the Babe of Bethlehem, born in a stable, cradled in a manger; had become the Man of sorrows, the Friend of sinners, the poorest of the poor — poorer than the foxes of the fields or the birds of the air — and stands now, without a friend beside him, on trial for his life before the Roman governor.

The governor is troubled; his wife has sent him a message: "Have thou nothing to do with that just man." He looks over the mob and wonders what to do; he makes a proposition to release unto them a prisoner, as was the custom at that time, and he hopes they will choose Jesus to be released; but they clamor for Barabbas, the robber, to be released. He asks them, "What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?" and they cry, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Then the governor asks the question, "Why, what evil hath he done?" but they cried again, "Let him be crucified?'

The question that Pilate propounded was a reasonable question, and one that has been recognized as such by rational, reasonable people from that day to this — reasonable that he should ask such a question when the mob clamored for the crucifixion of Christ: "Why, what evil hath he done?" But from the bosom of that mob, swept by a storm of anger, no answer comes save the furious cry: "Away with him!" Mobs rarely listen to the voice of reason, rarely regard reason, and especially such a mob as that — a mob filled with the blackest and bitterest thing that ever shadows the soul of human beings supposed to be respectable: the spirit of religious fanaticism, partyism, bigotry, and prejudice.

They did not reject Jesus because he was an atheist; they believed in God. They did not reject him because he did not believe the Scriptures; he quoted from them repeatedly, and said no jot or tittle of the law should pass until all should be fulfilled. They did not oppose him because he was a sectarian; for there was no sectarianism in his soul.

Why do they hate Jesus so? Who are these people composing that mob? The religious advisers, spiritual teachers, or ecclesiastical heads of the various sects, parties, and denominations in existence at that time were there, with the following of their denominations, sects, and parties, and at the bottom and back of their hatred was this reason: Jesus did not regard or respect their religious parties or partyism as such, did not sustain them in the idea that every religion is right just because it is called "religion." God had established Judaism fifteen hundred years before that time — established it in a formal way at the foot of shaking Sinai, when, from the summit of that cloud-wrapped mountain, he gave the law to Moses; but base men, desiring to be leaders, and there being no head places for them, had divided Judaism for their own base purposes and reduced it to the level of partyism; and God has never set the seal of his approbation on religious partyism. Pharisees and Sadducees and the other sects and parties of the day were perpetually striving against each other, each trying to rebuild itself upon the wreck and ruin of the others. But they laid aside all their strife and wrangling among themselves and formed a great ecclesiastical, crazy-quilt combination to oppose the Son of God because he would not recognize their sects or parties. Upon the same principle that Herod and Pilate could make friends, though they had been foes, so in the presence of Jesus these various sects and parties of the Jews formed a crazy-quilt combination, and reared upon the mountain wave of hatred and passion a billow that lifted him to the cross on which he died.

It behooves each one of us, as we value our souls and the souls of those we might win, to think seriously, carefully and prayerfully, to see if we are guilty -along this line. Are we doing as that mob did? Do we love supremely the cause of Christ? Are we willing to do and dare and die to bring sinners away from Satan to the Savior? Are we trying to get people to be Christians and nothing but Christians — only this and nothing more — simply to take God at his word, do what he commands, become and be what he requires, live as he directs, and lovingly trust him for what he promises till he shall call us home? Is that our mission? Is that our hope? Is that the end for which we labor? Or is it our party that we love, our denomination that we are trying to support? Is it our party, and not Christ and his cause that we defend?