The big YES
April 6, 2023 | Gretchen Tilly
About the author: Gretchen has been a ZPC member for 20 years. (Wow, 20 years?! How did that happen?) She grew up in Indianapolis and is a proud Michigan State graduate! She lives just down the street from the church along with her two cats. She loves missions and encourages everyone to go on a mission trip, whether on this continent or another. It will change your life … for good! So go! Go now!
Mark 15: 1-15
As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. 2 Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ He answered him, ‘You say so.’ 3 Then the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 Pilate asked him again, ‘Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.’ 5 But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.
Pilate Hands Jesus over to Be Crucified
6 Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. 7 Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. 8 So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. 9 Then he answered them, ‘Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ 10 For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. 12 Pilate spoke to them again, ‘Then what do you wish me to do[a] with the man you call[b] the King of the Jews?’ 13 They shouted back, ‘Crucify him!’ 14 Pilate asked them, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Crucify him!’ 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
“It is as you say.” These were the words of Jesus as he answered Pilate’s question - asking if he was king of the Jews. Jesus did this as he stood before Pilate, the angry Jewish leaders, and a dangerous, scary crowd.
We all know about Pilate and how he wimped out and gave in to the demands of the Jewish religious leaders and the crowd. However, there was something else that caught my attention.
"It is as you say." Five words, in a simple sentence, that are full of submission, obedience, surrender, and truth. That is all Jesus said and it was all he needed to say.
Are you a Christian? Sure. Yeah. I guess so. Uh huh. Definitely. “It is as you say” (to borrow Jesus’ words).
In our western world, an affirmative answer can elicit responses from joy, thanksgiving, and hugs to ridicule, laughter, and mockery, but rarely does it lead to physical harm, let alone death. It isn’t always easy, but we can be pretty sure we’ll walk away without injury except to our feelings and ego.
In other parts of the world, that isn’t true. God led me to visit Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and other Middle Eastern countries (via mission trips). During these trips, I came to understand as never before how very dangerous saying yes can be, especially for those who were born into a different religion. I hope I never forget meeting one fellow, one of many, who believed in Jesus but had formerly practiced another religion. It was the religion and culture his family had followed for generations. Just by talking to us, a group of visitors and fellow believers from the West, he was placing himself and his family in danger. We learned he had been jailed repeatedly for his belief in Jesus and suffered physical and mental torture beyond our comprehension. It seemed so surreal, but here he was, showing us the scars on his back and arms from the agony he endured. What we couldn’t see but sensed was the emotional and mental damage he carried, and all because he said YES to Jesus.
There is more that can be shared but one thing I asked myself as I listened and continue today to ask myself is, what would I do/what will I do, should I ever face torture and even death for claiming Jesus as my Savior? It’s easy to say, "of course I will claim him" but in the face of evil, can I be so sure? I constantly pray that I will always choose Jesus and for God to help me always choose him.
Jesus, in absolute obedience to the Father and knowing there was no other way, yet out of love for us, stood before a rowdy crowd that demanded his death. He could have saved himself, made the outcome different, but Jesus, seeking not his own will, but always that of his father, said yes to death so that we can have life. May we too grow to where our heart’s deepest desire is to repeat the words of our Lord, “It is as you say.”
You endured so much more than I can ever comprehend in order to give us eternal life. Thank you. Thank you for standing firm when you were accused of falsehoods and later, when you were mocked and spit on, and finally when you suffered the humiliation of the cross. You did that for me. You did that for all of us. Thank you. I ask you to give strength and hope to those who follow you despite the danger and violence they have faced, will face, and are facing. Please help me to stand firm for you when I am called to do so, and not be afraid. I want to always choose you. I love you.
In your precious name I pray,