They yelled, “Nail him to a cross!”
Pilate objected, “But for what crime?”
But they yelled all the louder, “Nail him to the cross.”
Pilate gave the crowd what it wanted, set Barabbas free and turned Jesus over for a whipping and crucifixion.
I was struck by Eugene Peterson’s translation of this trial. “Pilate gave the crowd what it wanted.” While he had not uncovered any crime worth of death, Pilate acquiesced to the cultural demands. How often do we scream, argue and badger people until we get what we want? Isn’t it often true that the squeaky wheel is the one that gets the most attention?
What we see in this Biblical story is that the end result was brutal unjust punishment, and even death, because Pilate followed the whims of the crowd.
Interestingly, if you look at Jesus’ prayer in the garden—he asks God to take away this very punishment before him—and God does not give Jesus what he wants! So God’s approach is the exact opposite to our approach. We often want to please people, respond to the demands of the masses, and do what is easier. God, however, is more interested in doing what is harder—like resurrecting a crucified man.
When have you seen someone give into the demands of the crowd? What was the end result? When have you felt swayed by the crowds chants? What might the harder way God is calling you to demonstrate your faith?