Their Shouts Prevailed
Luke 23:20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.”
23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.
In many ways this is a rather strange interaction. Pilate is the leader. He finds nothing wrong with Jesus and wants to release him. (I really wonder why he just doesn't!) Of course the crowd is out of control and they continue to shout that he needs to be crucified. Pilate comes out again and announces to the people that he won't have Jesus crucified, but he will have him punished. Another interesting thought since he finds that Jesus did nothing wrong, but why not punish him??? But no, the people don't want him released and they don't just want him punished, they want him crucified. Pilate, again -- he is the leader, finds nothing that this man has done wrong and finally we are told "their shouts prevailed." Pilate gives in to their demands and decides that a completely innocent man will be put to death.
The leader was not a leader -- instead, the people became the leaders and forced their opinions and desires upon the leader. He responded to the growing crowd and not to the truth.
As we look back upon this story today we imagine Pilate as a rather weak leader. Why couldn't he stand up to the people? Why did he test the wind, so to speak, and then decide how to respond?
Sadly, this seems to be the way in which society leads these days. All over the world there are political experts who are willing to tell leadership what it is that people "want." The problem with this is that leaders, like Pilate, will become more interested in their own political survival than in being leaders. The reality was that Jesus had done nothing wrong and simply should have been set free. When Pilate saw that this was a problem he began to bend the law. Okay, why not just punish this man? (For what???) Well, that didn't make the people happy -- okay, we'll put him to death! (Again -- for what???) The problem was that the shouts of the people prevailed over the law of the land and in an effort to maintain his popularity, he gave in to the shouts.
This scenario may seem extreme, but I'm afraid that if we examine our Christian lives we, too, may be guilty of succumbing to the shouts of popular culture and society. To stand up for right and to be a genuine follower of Jesus Christ may not be popular. There may be shouts of ridicule which come to us from those around us, and yet, we must be willing to follow Jesus and allow him to inform the way we live our lives. Living for Jesus on a daily basis should result in a clash with culture, and this may not simply be popular culture, but possibly even Christian culture. A culture has developed within the church which may not always be true to following Christ. At times there are loud voices in the congregation saying how things need to be done, and they may be the popular voices. Do we succumb to the shouting, or do we get away and seek the face of God?
In the busyness of our lives it may be difficult to turn off the clutter of the noise around us. Everything that wants our attention and our time is shouting at us. Will we let those things prevail? Or will we find ourselves in that quiet place of rest in the presence of God, allowing his truth to shine into our lives and guiding us and our decisions. There will be many voices shouting at us today and the only way that we can keep on the right path is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and allow him to lead us into all truth.
Lord, please help the shouts to be tuned out and me to be tuned in to you. Amen.