12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.”
To readers of the gospels, the scene of Pilate and the crowd arguing over Jesus is quite familiar. Pilate knows that there is no good reason to put Jesus to death. The crowd has adopted a mob mentality, stirred up by their religious leaders. And it appears that nothing goes right—though we know that God is accomplishing his ultimate plan through this event.
It is tempting to be harsh with the crowd, and indeed they deserve a harsh judgment for what they did. However, I also have to notice a little similarity between myself and the people. I certainly see a similarity between our culture and the mob.
Notice, when it gets to the main point of the matter, Pilate asks the crowd why they want Jesus put to death. Why would they want him to die even though the governor has seen that Jesus does not deserve death? Why would they want to kill a man they hailed earlier as a king?
What does the crowd do? What reasons do they give? IN this passage, they give nothing. No rational reason comes out of the mouths of the crowd. They just shout more and shout louder. Once reason is gone, there is only shrillness and force.
Is this like our culture? You bet it is. We are not so far removed. Watch TV news shows if you can. Notice the form most arguments take. It is no longer a debate, but rather a shouting match. There are seldom actual arguments made. Instead, sound bites and zingers are the order of the day. Noise, sarcasm, straw men, and character assassination are the victors, often above substantive discussion and dialog.
But then, as I get myself to the point of self-righteous indignation, I realize that my heart is not so far above the culture. When I hurt, when I am sad, when I fear, am I not similar? Do I not, at least on the inside, shout, stomp, and demand my way? Were I honest, would I not see that sometimes my best argument for wanting my way is simply that I want it?
Perhaps a look at the ugly scene of the crowd before Pilate could serve as a correction for me, maybe even for you. Let us learn to watch ourselves when our hearts demand. Let us learn to check ourselves when, rather than expressing valid reason, our hearts simply shout louder and louder. And, may we also learn to be more gracious to a world that is not all that different than us when we are not careful to guard our hearts with the word and ways of God.
What about you? Do you see yourself in the crowd? Do you catch yourself reasoning more with noise than Scripture? How do you check this all-too-human tendency?