At this time of year many of our daily reading plans focus on the build up to the time of crucifixion. As I read one such account this morning, something jumped out at me that I had not thought about in depth before.
As Jesus was brought before Pilate the hearing he got was not as we should expect within a society that had a clear governmental and legal structure. On the contrary, we see that Jesus was condemned by popular voice rather than by the legal system. In Mark 15 v 14, Pilate says to the crowd, “what evil has he done?”, but they shouted out all the more, “crucify him.” The Bible then goes on to say, “wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them.”
This account of what happened is an excellent illustration of what happens when the popular voice gains such momentum, that law or long-standing beliefs are overturned in favour of placating the baying crowd.
Here we see two different types of leaders being offered to the crowd for release; Barabbas an insurrectionary, and Jesus the innocent King of the Jews. Despite the fact that Pilate could find no wrongdoing within Jesus, despite the fact that he could not in all honesty accuse him of any falsehood, he was not prepared to let him go free, rather he allowed the crowd to influence him as he made this life or death decision. And the crowd, as they were incited by the religious rulers of the day were soon crying out for Jesus to be crucified.
And this reminds me of where we are now, a nation who no longer put Christ first, a nation where we as Christians who seek to live out God’s laws are so often challenged by secular voices, those whose voices seem to be getting louder and louder. And it's essential that we do not allow the volume of those voices around us detract from the authority of the gentle voice of Jesus. Jesus who did not have to raise his voice to cast out demons, to heal the sick or to raise the dead, Jesus who simply used his calm authoritative voice to say and do what was right.
When we look at issues of contention such as abortion, sex before marriage, homosexuality, transgenderism, the authority of scripture; let's not get confused or put off by the volume of the voices around us. Let us tune in to the authoritative voice of God through his word and rather than join the crowd to see the demise of Jesus, or in our case the demise of the church, remain faithful, as ones who recognise and wish to uphold His law.
The second warning for me that comes out of this same passage is that it was indeed some of the religious leaders who were inciting the crowd to cry for Jesus to be crucified. Beware wolves in sheep clothing, carefully measuring everything that our church leaders teach us or exhort us to do in relation to what we read in the word of God. It's quite a simple exercise to go online and find out what varying denominations and church leaders will teach us about these areas of contention. Not all teach the same thing, not all interpret the Bible in the same way, which is all the more reason for us to seek God ourselves, to ensure that whilst we might have been one shouting “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday, that within days we're not easily swayed by the volume of the crowd and now joining in as they shout “crucify him.”