What makes us do the things we do? Often times we are manipulated by fear and compliance and this is nothing new.
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Which of the two do you want me to release to you? Asked the governor.Barabbas, they answered.What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah? Pilate asked.They all answered, “CRUCIFY HIM!”.
As we draw closer to Easter, I find myself looking at these verses and asking my favorite question. Why? Why did they choose Barabbas to be freed? Why did they seek crucifixion as the punishment for Jesus? The verses say that they ALL answered – Crucify Him!, where were his followers and why did no one speak up for a lesser punishment? Was this not the same crowd who cried out Hosanna as He rode into down just days earlier?
Examining the Details
Mark offers a look into one possible reason as he states that the chief priests stirred up the crowd and encouraged them to ask for the release of Barabbas. Even though Barabbas may have been a rebel against them in his own right they knew he was less of a threat to them than Jesus was.
Here we have an entire crowd that was swayed to ask for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It is easy to sit back and think that they were too easily swayed and should have not acted that way but what about our lives? Are there areas in our lives where we have been influenced and allowed sin to creep in?
The Other Factors
Let’s look at some other issues that may have been at work here.
It was early in the morning – This allowed the Jewish leaders to fill the crowd with their own people. The ones they knew would support them. The word tells us to always be ready.
Many of Jesus’ followers were scared and had went into hiding, they did not even know he was being tried at this time. – Fear causes us to lose sight of what is important. When we are acting in fear we are focused on what scares us not what can save us.
Acting Out Of Fear
Fear also triggers another reaction. Compliance – When we are afraid, we are by nature more likely to comply with the status quo. For the people in this crowd we can imagine that this man they just heralded as the coming Messiah had been arrested and was on trial. Those who arrested him are encouraging others to seek his crucifixion. I don’t know about you but for me it is not hard to imagine that they were very likely afraid of the consequences for not following along. Fear is a very strong motivational tool. If the consequence is bad enough you can motivate people to do just about anything out of fear. In situations like this there is no greater motivator than fear.
Are You in the Crowd?
In today’s world I think we are more like this crowd than we like to admit. At least I know I am.
We have a crowd mentality. The more society starts to accept things as okay we tend to go with them. There are even congregations today preaching a style of faith that is based on comfort.
We have a desire to be accepted and we tend to go along with the crowd to gain that acceptance. Christians today tend to avoid rocking the boat of social norms.
An Unoffensive Truth
We choose actions that are “Non-Offensive” – We alter our social stances based on the lifestyles of those around us. I have been guilty of this myself at times. We tend to look the other way when it is someone we care about. I have heard it said that “I have too many friends who believe that way, so it can’t be wrong”. Know what the funny thing is about me and all my friends. We were each and every one born into sin. The Bible is the Bible and God is God and that doesn’t change ever.
Weak Like Pilate
We are more like Pilate than we like to admit as well.
When faced with a tough situation instead of making a decision, he tried to find a loophole. He tried to use the tradition of releasing a prisoner during Passover to release Jesus but this backfired. When this backfired he then put the blame on the people and said he was washing his hands.
Too often we are looking for the loophole or looking to let someone else to be the decision maker so we can wash our hands and say it wasn’t me. Pilate could have made a decision but he was too busy trying to please everyone. We may know what needs to be done but realize that it is an unpopular decision so we sit back and hope that someone else speaks up. When they don’t we hold our hands up and blame the people.
We have a responsibility as Christians to stand up for Christ. Remember, you are either for him or against him. There is no middle ground or simply washing your hands of that responsibility. As a follower of Christ we should seek to stand out from the crowd and not be afraid to voice the unpopular opinion.