Who do we seek to please – the crowd or God?
After questioning Jesus, Pontius Pilate concluded that he had committed no crime and offered to release him in accordance with the custom to release one prisoner at the feast of the Passover. The chief priests stirred up the crowd to demand the release of an insurrectionist named Barabbas instead of Jesus and have Jesus crucified. Pilate resisted at first, but then Mark reports, “Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas…He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.” (Mark 15:15)
The crowd seldom gets it right. How often do we see conventional wisdom that is not wise, popular opinion that does not reflect the truth, and consensus that leads to the wrong result?
Cynthia Cooper, the vice president of Internal Audit for WorldCom who discovered the massive fraudulent accounting in 2002, says in her book, Extraordinary Circumstances, “Most of the people who participated in the WorldCom fraud were ordinary, middle-class Americans. They had no prior criminal records and never imagined they would be confronted with such life-altering choices. They were mothers and fathers who went to work to support their families, spent weekends going to their children’s activities and church, and were respected within their communities.” In speculating on the motivation of the mid-level employees who participated in the fraud, she said they simply “felt pressured and afraid that they would lose their jobs if they didn’t go along.” (See Hope for the Workplace – Christ in You, p. 11, www.zacchaeuspublications.com)
One of the few things Jesus did say when questioned by Pilate was that he had come into the world to testify to the truth. Ironically, Pilate asked, “What is truth?” though the embodiment of all truth was standing before him in the person of Jesus. (John 18:37-38)
Like Jesus, our decisions and actions should testify to the truth. Unlike Pilate, we should not be governed by what the crowd or others want, but rather should be seeking the truth which is what God wants.
The crowd yelled, “Crucify him!” But the crowd got it wrong. God redeemed the wrong and took the cross, a symbol of Roman cruelty and oppression, and transformed it into a symbol of love, sacrifice and hope.