The senselessness. The rejection of goodness. The refusal to dialogue. Earnest questions for understanding met by shouts. The demands. The imposition of the crowd’s will over another’s by pressure. Manipulation. False claims. Insensitivity to truth. Haste. A rush to judgment.
When a mob wins, truth loses.
And God is crucified.
Such were the conditions we find in the gospel’s accounts of Jesus before the Roman governor Pilate in the first century. (Read Mathew 27:15-26, Mark 15:6-15 Luke 23:13-25, John 18:38-19:16) It is unsettling that most of the religious leaders led and instigated this pressurized environment. There was an event on the horizon that required their haste. In their minds, there was no time for honest fact-finding or deliberation. There was no time for perspective. The eve of the Sabbath would begin at dusk, and they needed this man on the cross before then.
They knew what they wanted, and Jesus be damned, they would get their way.
Nevermind who He was. That He came to save and forgive the very things that they were doing. Their rage and frustration, their desire for power and status had erupted. The pressure valve had broken. Jesus had offended their sensitivities. His teachings had called them out. All their pent up offense and rage was poured out against Him.
Jesus loved the world so much that He received all their anger and ugliness. He took their darkness, and by His death and resurrection, gave them His light. He quieted the mob with His crucified body. He took their ire and He offered His love.
He heals. He mends. He reconciles. He comforts. He provides. He makes things right. As we release our lives and sin and hurts and shame into His hands, He crafts redemption from wreck.
- “it was because of envy” (Matthew 27:18, Mark 15:10)
- “the chief priests stirred up the crowd (Mark 15:11)
- “I have found no grounds to charge this man” (Luke 23:19)
- “Then they all cried out together” (Luke 23:18)
- “They shouted” (Mark 15:13, 14; John 18:40, 19:6, 15)
- “slapping His face” (John 19:3)
- “Pilate kept trying to release Him” (John 19:12)
- “they kept shouting” (Matthew 27:23, Luke 23:21)
- “they kept up the pressure” (Luke 23:23)
- “demanding with loud voices (Luke 23:23)
- “and their voices won out” (Luke 23:23)
- “persuaded the crowds” (Matthew 27:20)
- “a riot was starting” (Matthew 27:24)
- “wanting to satisfy the crowd… he handed Him over to be crucified” (Mark 15:15)
It would be easy to pour out ire on the Jews for their hatred, their contempt, their manipulation and quest to eliminate the One who challenged them. Make no mistake though. The Jews may have been the engineers of the crucifixion, but our sin – my sin – was the substance of it.
I have yelled at God. I’ve raged against Him. For His perceived unfairness. In times of dark frustration and angst. When I see a way for Him to work, and He chooses another – or He chooses to wait upon fulfilling my very passionate pleas, I look around and find the mob and join them.
In sheer powerlessness, I have yelled with you (because you have too, haven’t you?), “Crucify Him!”
We are the mob.
But He is the Messiah.
He rises. He rises above. He first rises on a cross, beaten, spit upon, maligned and nailed. He rises above the heads of the mob, of us all. He offers us life through faith.
After our sin and rebellion and ugliness have supposedly killed Him, He rises from the grave. His rising announces our hope – that if we leave the mob and trust in Him, we may have life, answers, reconciliation, and peace in Him.
No need to shout. Only to kneel.
“If I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to myself.”
He said this to indicate what kind of death he was about to die.”