April 3

Matthew 27:11-25

“Pilate said to them, ‘Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?’ All of them said, ‘Let him be crucified!’” vs. 22

According to Matthew the mood of the crowds reversed in the course of a week. They went from cheering Jesus’ arrival as the Son of David to demanding his death as a common criminal. Some explain this by saying that there were two different crowds, one made up of Galileans, the other containing skeptical Judeans. But the truth is that any crowds can be enormously fickle, easily stirred up by clever politicians, and always thirsty for blood–even in the Jim Crow period of American history, less than one hundred years ago, large cheering crowds gathered for the lynching of innocent black men. For them it was a social event, an opportunity to give voice to prejudice and hate. Two thousand years ago the religious leaders did a masterful job of besmirching the character and ministry of Jesus, and the crowds were eager to accommodate them. And Pilate, who knew that Jesus was innocent, lacked the heart to oppose their will, and eventually acquiesced to their demands. As we move beyond this pandemic crisis we’ll be entering the heat of the election campaign. Once again we’ll see efforts made to stir up crowds with accusations and half-truths–and it remains to be seen what influence those crowds will have. While it’s good to let the people have a voice, it can be a disaster when they have the final say.

Thought for the Day: Why is crowd behavior so fickle?

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