Title: The Shouts of Selfishness on Crucifixion Day
FOCAL SCRIPTURE —- Luke 23:20-24: “Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” 22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” 23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand.”
While reading Luke’s account of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, a story I’ve probably read hundreds of times in my lifetime, I saw something that I’ve never seen before. I saw, or rather heard, a lot of shouting. Specifically, Luke shares that there were crowds of people, some teachers, and even priests (the highest religious leaders at the time), screaming at the top of their lungs for Pilate to release a known murderer (Barabbas) and condemn an innocent Jesus to death.
Obviously, their loud voices paid off, as we read in verse 24 that Pilate said “ok” and kept Jesus for sentencing to the point of death. So what, you might ask, is so significant about the shouting? Answer…they were shouts of selfishness. Those shouts signal a large group of people shouting about something they knew absolutely nothing about. The main reason they were shouting was because they were angry; angry that this Jesus person had rocked their world so significantly.
You see, because Jesus was born to and destined to remain perfect, there was absolutely no crime that Herod or Pilate could pin on this Savior. He wasn’t born into a life of crime. He was born as a symbol of God’s commitment to once again restore an imperfect, sinful creation back to Himself. Jesus was the bridge between God and his broken, fallen creation; a bridge that put the perfect love relationship that God had established with his creation in the Garden of Eden back into order. So if Jesus was guilty of any crime, then it was a crime of passion; a crime of love, restoration, healing, bonding, and of restoring order back to God’s beloved creation.
The angry shouts came from people who were disturbed by this Savior and his lifelong purpose; disturbed because he rocked their very existence to the core and dared to say such things as, “Let not your heart be troubled, My peace I give to you…” and “God so loved the world that he gave his ONLY son…”
In other words, they didn’t like this Savior who suddenly told them that they no longer had to work out their own salvation through sacrifices or good deeds, but rather, just had to believe, trust, and grow. It almost seemed too easy, if you stop and think about it. Jesus was looking at that angry mob saying, “People, it’s your decision. If you truly believe, then act like a people of belief and get committed and get right before your God.” And sadly, that was too much for them to hear.
I can’t help but wonder if we too frequently become angry, shouting mobs before our God. Sometimes we don’t like his simplicity, his silence, or his stillness because these seasons force us to do the Jesus thing of just getting alone on our knees before our daddy God and growing through prayer and Scripture and service. That’s almost too easy, and yet, we make it far too hard. We come kicking and screaming if the church asks us to serve or lead any of this stuff, because after all, our time is our time and we don’t have to do that stuff to be “spiritual,” do we? But worse, we come kicking and screaming before our Jesus saying, “How dare you ask me to be still, absorb your word, absorb your silence and absorb your very essence while I step out in faith and wait to see your final decision.” It’s as if we resent that the Christian faith is actually a faith of just turning over every piece of our heart and every remnant of selfishness so that like Christ, we can say at the end of every day, “Not my will, but thine…”
This Easter, don’t fall into the angry, shouting crowds. Instead, become the person God ordained you to be; a person who seeks the very presence of God almighty through prayer, silence, Scripture, service, so that every ounce of your being yearns to be with the people of God (church) and with God himself (prayer) daily, weekly, and annually. Stop shouting and start yielding today.