Matthew 27 reveals the sad nature of our fallen humanity. Beginning in verse 15-22, “Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the multitude one prisoner whom they wanted. And they were holding at that time a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas.”  Pilate said to the crowd, “Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah (Christ)? But the chief priests and elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas, and to put Jesus to death. Pilate replied, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate replied, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Messiah (Christ)? They all said, “Let Him be crucified!”  “Why what evil has He done?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the more, “Let Him be crucified!”

The crowd had gathered early that morning at the governor’s residence and judgment seat. They wanted to learn the fate of Jesus of Nazareth. Some hoped for His release. Some hoped for His execution. It became a custom during Passover for the rulers to release a prisoner in commemoration of the Jew’s deliverance from bondage in Egypt. Pilate wanted to honor the tradition. But he was no political novice. He knew whatever he decided some of the Jews would not be pleased. So he let them make the decision.

The choice was Jesus the One who had raised Lazarus and others from the dead or Barabbas the one who had sent many to their death. The crowd was asked to decide between good or evil, between righteous or unrighteous, between law-abider or law breaker, between God-fearing or God-resisting. You would think any rational, God-fearing, law abiding, moral citizen would choose the right man. Even if they disagreed with His political and religious views, was not His character, His morality and His good works enough to spare His life when compared to the evil, murdering, insurrectionist. Instead, pressured by the jealous Jewish leaders, they yielded to mob hysteria. They shouted loudly for the evil, unrighteous, law breaking, God resisting insurrectionist Barabbas.

Mobs seem to prefer the evil-doers,  the rebels, the law-breakers, the maniacal. Often they choose the jackals like Barabbas, Stalin,  Hitler, Hussain and others like these. They reject the lowly, the humble, the kind, the gentle, the servant to the downtrodden – the Lamb of God and His lambs.

What if we had been there? Who would we have chosen? We want to believe we would have chosen Jesus. But would we have chosen Him? The voice of the crowd is powerful and moving.

A few days before the trial, the crowd shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” Now the crowd cries out, “Crucify Him!” The pressure of the multitude can carry us away – even if we are not in complete agreement with the crowd.

Sometimes we find ourselves in the crowd of friends, the crowd of co-workers, the crowd of classmates, the crowd of families. In spite of all we know and believe,  the pressure from these  crowds tempt us to choose the evils of the jackal. God give us the wisdom, the moral strength, and the courage to choose the Lamb, the right, the truth, and the noble!

This week, beloved of God, as you encounter the crowds, don’t be persuaded by the jackal with all of its evil. Resist the jackal’s pressure, resist the crowd’s clamor, choose the Lamb of God. The world’s crowds  will try to pressure you to fit into its mold, but with God’s help, follow the gentle and humble Lamb of God. — Tom