Skip to main content

Power of the Crowd - John 19



In Chapter 19 of the Gospel of John, Jesus was beaten and questioned by Pilate.  Pilate kept trying to release Jesus, but the crowd was insistent that he be killed.  When they questioned Pilate's commitment to Caesar, Pilate reluctantly ordered to have him crucified.  The soldiers gambled for his clothing and stuck a crown of thorns on his head.  They mocked him, placing a sign that said "King of the Jews" above him.  Jesus' mother and friends were there, and Jesus told one of his disciples to care for his mother.  He said he was thirsty and the soldiers gave him vinegar with a sponge.  After this he bowed his head and died.  They pierced his side to be sure he was dead and then removed him from the cross.  Joseph of Arimathea, a secret disciple, asked for his body and placed him in a tomb in the nearby garden.

As I was reading this I was struck by how powerless Pilate seemed.  Pontius Pilate was the governor of Judea.  He was a brutal leader, known for massacres and bloodshed.  He was eventually called back to Rome to answer for his cruelty.  Yet, somehow, here, he seemed carried along by the crowd.  During this time in Judea, Jerusalem was known for turmoil and unrest.  Pilate would have seen many rebels and upstarts in his tenure.  In fact Barabbas, whom he released in the last chapter, may have been an insurrectionist, not a thief.   I suspect that Pilate was simply protecting himself here.  He didn't want to have Jesus crucified, but he also didn't want to answer to Rome for another uprising.  Caesar was known for killing governors who allowed revolts to happen in their districts.  

All of this speaks to the power of the gathered people.  This example demonstrates that the crowd can demand terrible things, but our history shows us that the crowd can also demand needed positive changes.  How many changes in our culture have come only as the result of crowds of gathered people demanding change?  I think we need to remember that our politicians are just humans, they will follow their own agendas, until the crowd demands something more of them.  We can let the crowd demand evil and cruel things, like they did of Pilate, or we can set aside the status quo approach and gather our own crowds to demand changes that look more like Kingdom values.  

God help us to know when we should gather a crowd and make some noise.  Give us the wisdom to demand the right things.  Let the spirit prompt us to speak when we should speak.  Give us courage to stand up when we should be standing strong.  Lord, make this place more like your place.  

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Death Will Lose it's Sting

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 1 Corinthians 15:51-57. In these verses, Paul reveals a mystery, that in the end some will be transformed, given a new body, instead of facing death.  In other words death is not one of life's two certain terms.  It seems taxes may be the only guarantee.   "...in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except  death and taxes ." - Benjamin Franklin. Ok, all jokes aside, these verses are difficult to read.  Paul looks forward to a time when death will have no victory, it will have lost its sting.  But today, we are in the middle of a pandemic, surrounded by death.  Many are scared for their lives, or their loved ones, and too many have already been lost.  Death does not seem to have lost its sting at all, it feels as if it is closing in. When I worked in wilderness therapy I remember holding a child who was desperately trying to kill himself.  We cried together as he struggled to end it, and I struggled

Fool for Christ

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 2 Corinthians 5.  Verse 13 stood out to me. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. - 2 Corinthians 5:13a (NLT) John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard churches did a famous sermon called "I am a fool for Christ, whose fool are you?".  Reading this week's text reminded me of this wonderful sermon.  Wimber's sermon reminds us that, as christians, we are called to something truly radical.  The christian walk is strange and counter cultural.  Jesus once explained this to his disciples in John 15 "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. You don't belong to this world, I have chosen you out of it.  That is why the world hates you."   Peter, in a letter to the church, later referred to all of us as strangers just passing through this world.   Do you feel like a stranger?  Do you feel like the world hates you?  Are you a fool for Christ? Here is the thing, you are going t

Prayer Part 2 of 4

  This is the second of four weeks the narrative lectionary is focusing on the Lord's Prayer as found in Luke 11:2-4.  This week we are focusing on the second section: "Give us this day our daily bread." At the time and place that Jesus said this, bread was the center of every meal.  To his people, it had a long history of being a symbol for God's provision.  It was often used to refer to any meal or food, and in this case Jesus expands it to represent all of our needs.   A long time ago, in a place that had been ravaged with war, orphanages were overwhelmed with children.  In one of the facilities, the relief workers noted that the children had trouble falling asleep each night.  They struggled with anxiety, wondering if they would have food for the next day.  Their lack of sleep led to more anxiety and a troubling downward spiral of their mental and physical health.  In an effort to meet their needs the workers tried something new one night.  As they tucked each chi