Matthew 27:15-26 (Part 2) – Where Are You, Men of Courage, While Sand Is Sold As Water?

Posted: April 22, 2016 in 40-Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 27:15-26 (Part 2)

Pilate Hands Jesus Over to Be Crucified


Yesterday, we talked about how Pilate would not stand up against the tide of public opinion even though legally he had every right to set Jesus free.  Today, let’s talk about the Jewish leaders and the crowd. Just a few days prior to this scene, the crowd was hailing Jesus as the potential conquering king, but on this day, they want Him killed. The Jewish leaders had successfully changed public opinion of Jesus. There was one of my favorite movies, The American President, that had this famous exchange about leadership:


Lewis Rothchild (presidential aide): People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.


President Andrew Shepherd: Lewis, we’ve had Presidents who were beloved, who couldn’t find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty. They drink the sand because they don’t know the difference..


The issue in Lewis and Andrew’s argument was that Andrew Shepherd was not responding to the character accusations of President Shepherd’s opponent. Andrew was simply not responding to issues of character in their presidential debate because he thought the race should be about the issues and not about character. His miscalculation and his silence about the character debate caused President Shepherd to take a nose dive in the polls. At issue was the fact that President Shepherd, a widower, now had a girlfriend. Since his opponent was the only one doing the talking, people were listening. The crowds followed where the noise was coming from.


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.


Here we see that same idea at work. The crowd was following the Jewish leaders because they were doing the talking. Where were the disciples? Where were their voices? Where was the voice of reason to oppose the insanity that was taking place? Jesus was about to be convicted of treason against the Roman Empire but there was no evidence to convict Him. Where was the voice of reason to stop a clear travesty of justice? Where were the men of courage in this scene? The crowd will follow who is making the noise. The crowd is fickle. Public opinion is fickle. The Jewish leaders were the only ones doing the talking and making the public believe that they were drinking water when it was really sand. Where are the men of courage in this crowd? Where are the disciples of Jesus? Are they in the crowd but quiet? Are they far away from the crowd? The Jewish leaders were the only ones doing the talking and they would do anything the maintain their control on power. Where, indeed, were the men of courage?


Today, we see much of the same thing. We see people becoming presidential candidates because the crowd will follow those who pander to what they want to hear. Just yesterday, Donald Trump seemed give responses to questions that were the polar opposite of what his party stands for yesterday on the Today Show. His answers on the transgender issue in North Carolina, about taxes, and about abortion are all evidence of the fact that the man will do anything, say anything and stands for nothing but amassing power. He will say anything to the crowd to win their favor. He is feeding the world sand and telling it that it is water and we lap it up as if it is indeed water without thought of what it will do to our digestive system. Trump is telling every crowd what they want to hear and the crowd follows. Where are the men of courage out there? Are there men of equal wealth and political status that are willing to stand up to Trump. Where are the men of courage?


Equally as important is the trend over the past decades of shrinking Christian liberties and the voice of moral reason in our society? Christians are being forced to perform ceremonies and provide services that are against their beliefs in alarming numbers and yet the majority of Christians are silent. Christians who take a stand against that which is against their beliefs are crucified in the press. Christians seemed to be in a damned if you do and damned if you don’t scenario in today’s world. The anti-Christian rhetoric that pervades our society is a tide that gains momentum easily. Couch anything in terms of equality, the god of times, and crowd will swallow the sand as water. This whole bathroom thing is sand being poured down our throats as water because only those with the sand in their glass are doing the talking. The insanity of the whole issue gathers momemtum because the crowd follows the noise. The crowd is fickle and the crowd will follow the noise. Where are the men of courage? We must speak up. The longer the Christian voice is silent, the more the crowd will listen to those are feeding them sand and calling it water.


When are we Christians in America going to be more concerned about Christ than we are about public opinion and our pocketbooks? Where are the men of courage? Otherwise, sand will continue to be sold as water. Amen and Amen.


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