Very early in the morning the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law—the entire high council—met to discuss their next step. They bound Jesus, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor. Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You have said it.” Then the leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes, and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?” But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise. Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner—anyone the people requested. One of the prisoners at that time was Barabbas, a revolutionary who had committed murder in an uprising. The crowd went to Pilate and asked him to release a prisoner as usual. “Would you like me to release to you this ‘King of the Jews’?” Pilate asked. (For he realized by now that the leading priests had arrested Jesus out of envy.) But at this point the leading priests stirred up the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus. Pilate asked them, “Then what should I do with this man you call the king of the Jews?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!” “Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?” But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!” So to pacify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.
Mark 15:1-15 NLT
Justice is supposed to be above the sway of the mob. Justice is supposed to handed out based on facts and evidence—not envy and jealously. It didn’t take long for Pilate to recognize Jesus had done nothing worthy of death. He was aware enough of the actions of religious leadership that he recognized their envy when he saw it. Yet Pilate chose to bend to the will of the masses. There is a big difference between a politician and a leader. Pilate was a politician—always making decisions based on what would keep him in office with the least amount of friction. He traded peace for truth. As a result, history records him as a coward and puppet of the people. When we choose to be people pleasers history will not write well of us. This is because the people we try to please will still turn on us. They will recognize we have no spine. Another interesting note in the portion of the narrative are the people choosing Barabbas over Jesus. Years ago the church was doing an Easter play and one night after rehearsal one of my sons who was about eight at the time asked me, “Dad, why did the people want a murderer instead of Jesus?” I remember that moment of truth from a child. He couldn’t figure out why people wanted a criminal to be released instead of Jesus. The fickle masses of people are easily swayed by a few religious leaders. That should be a warning for us. We should never allow ourselves to be led down the wrong path by those with impure motives. We are responsible to seek truth for ourselves and be sure we are living by truth. We have a responsibility to make decisions for ourselves.
Holy Spirit help me to not bend easily to people. Help me to be willing to stand for truth. Help me to always listen to Your voice.
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