Fickle Crowds and Tepid Rulers

Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.”

But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.) Luke 23:13-19

As humans we long for leaders with backbone and boldness. More often than not we get weak-willed, lukewarm politicians who are afraid to make unpopular decisions. Combine that with mob rule in the streets, and you have chaos.

The crowd in the Easter story wanted blood. Actually, according to Matthew 27:20, “But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.” The religious leaders had a lot of influence over the people, and they used that to their temporary advantage. They wanted blood, and they eventually got it.

They were so smug in their actions, so full of themselves. Finally! At last this pesky Jesus would go away. Wouldn’t they be surprised in a few days!

The crowds, however, have me a bit puzzled. Generally speaking, they liked Jesus. They liked his honesty and forthrightness. Of course they loved the miracles he performed. But they turned on him so fast. The leaders had a major part in that about-face. But still, the crowd turned on Him.

The Bible talks about these people “for the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” The crowds had itching ears and wanted to believe what they spiritual leaders said. They were fickle.