Matthew 27:15-26 (Part 1) – Mob Mentality, 1st Century Style & 21st Century Style

Posted: April 21, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 27:15-26 (Part 1)

Pilate Hands Jesus Over to Be Crucified

 

In this day where it seems that we have lost our ability to understand reason simply in the name of inclusivity, this particular passage rings loud and clear through the centuries. In today’s world, in order to champion the cause of alternative lifestyles, we have forgotten basic human safety and we have forgotten the needs of our children. It seems that there is a mob mentality to it. To be seen standing against the mob of alternative lifestyle supporters can be dangerous politically and few are willing to stand against the tide of public opinion. Even though to ensure that transgender people can take a piss where they want to, we may be endangering our wives and daughters. Target just announced that it will allow people to use whatever bathroom they desire as part of this jump on the bathroom bandwagon is evidence of mob mentality at its finest. Everyone bowing the supposed negative press that they will receive for standing against this tide. The LGBT lobby uses its threats of condemnation to further its agenda and everyone wants to be on the side of the cool kids. We don’t want to be perceived as backwards so we either say nothing or jump on the bandwagon. I am sorry but this is just wrong on the basest of levels. The LGBT lobby says that the rights of those who have a sexual identity crisis have greater rights than my wife for the fear she will now have when she goes to a public restroom. Transgender rights are more important than the rights of my adult daughters and stepdaughter to use the restroom in the freedom that used to be a sanctuary of sorts for women (and I mean women who are women by birth and have all the anatomical features of a female). Transgender rights are more important than the right of my as yet unborn granddaughter. As a husband, father, and about-to-be-grandfather, I am shocked and dismayed at the rolling tide that becomes these LGBT issues. They gather momentum so quickly and to stand on the top of the table and say this is insane and stupid and wrong can get you vilified in the press and the court of public opinion. Most are afraid to do so and you certainly will not get any press time for doing so. And the tide rolls on and destroys and crushes. In order to make sure 1% of our country feels good about themselves (and God forbid that they would have to deal with struggles just like the rest of us), we break down the safety and security of our mothers, wives, and daughters. Sure, the LGBT lobby says that will never happen. Sure, it might not happen from them, but there are sexual predators out there and the LGBT lobby is sticking its head in the utopian sand to say that there is not. We are creating a risk to our women that everywhere else we try to protect. We are creating a risk when there doesn’t need to be one. What’s next? What will our mob mentality bring about next? As the line from the movie, Courageous, says “Where are you, men of courage?” We need men of courage now. We need the voice of reason to stand up against the mob mentality. But sadly, the tide will roll on, the mob will rule even though the mob does not represent all of us.

 

That’s the kind of thing that I think of when I read this passage for today, Matthew 27:15-26. Let’s read it together, shall we:

 

15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus[a] Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.

 

19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”

 

20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

 

21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.

 

“Barabbas,” they answered.

 

22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.

 

They all answered, “Crucify him!”

 

23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

 

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

 

24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”

 

25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”

 

26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

 

Pilate wimps out here. For a leader who was supposed to administer justice (and remember that the Roman rule of law is pretty much the basis of our legal system), Pilate proved to be more concerned with political expediency than doing what was right. He had several opportunities in this scene to do what was right. His conscience told him Jesus was innocent. His wife’s dream gave him an excuse to re-examine the situation and Roman law dictated that there be tangible evidence of crime. None of these things held water for Pilate in the face of mob mentality. He conscience told him that Jesus was innocent, but that was nothing in the eye of public scorn. He perceived that they simply jealous of a teacher who was more popular with the people than they were. But when the Jewish leaders threatened to report Pilate to Caesar (see John 19:12). Pilate caved to public opinion. The Roman governor could not afford another bad report to Rome. His history in the region had been one of brutality and the utter disregard for the religious traditions of the Jews. He had no need for more complaints about him in Rome. If Rome had to send additional troops to Palestine, Pilate would be more than likely be recalled to Rome. In making no decision, and bowing to public opinion, regardless of the lack of legal reasoning, Pilate made a decision. His acquiescence was acceptance. His silence was approval. Washing his hand of the situation, both literally and symbolically, does not take away the fact that he gave in and allowed a travesty of justice to occur.

 

How often are we Pilate in our daily lives? How often are we more concerned with acceptance by the culture around us than we are about honoring God and His Word? When we are quiet on issues where the tidal wave of public opinion is clearly against God’s Word, are we not acquiescing to the mob? When in the name of fitting in with the world, we accept things that are clearly against the nature of God as expressed in His Word we are being Pilate. Are you Pilate when you are asked to doing things that are against your Christian beliefs? Do you blend in to the point that no one can tell the difference between what a Christian is and what a non-Christian is? There is an old Christian phrase that says, “if you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Are you Pilate when being a Christian may cost you friends, money, jobs, and public favor? Too many times today, we as Christians are more interested in fitting in than standing out. We are more interested in our Christianity being easy and advantageous. Help us not to be Pilate when it comes to choosing Jesus over the crowd. Help us not be Pilate when it comes to choosing Jesus over a cushy life. Help us to stand up and stand out. Help us to address the world as Jesus’ known representatives and do so in a loving and compassionate way that draws people unto Christ. We can stand our ground not in hate but in love. We can stand out. If more of us did this rather than being Pilate, maybe this would be a different world. Amen and Amen.

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