“Pilate said to them, ‘Then what am I to do with Jesus whom is called Christ?’ And they all said, ‘He shall be crucified!’”
“And then Pilate again asked them saying, ‘What then do you wish for me to do with the one called King of the Jews?’ But they again shouted angrily: ‘Crucify him!’”
“Yet again Pilate called out to them, wishing to release Jesus. But they were shouting, saying: “Crucify! Crucify Him!’”
Perhaps we have simply heard these words too many times that we often miss the sheer horror of what is taking place. Here is an angry crowd — a mob really — crying out for the death of an innocent man. Luke describes them as shouting, Mark uses the term kra/zw (kradzo), which means to shout angrily or vehemently with ill intent. Even the repetition that Luke is recording just drives home the point even further about this angry mob. These people are out for blood and there is no way that Pilate does not see that as well. At this stage, justice is giving way to preserving control of the situation.
We do find a peek into the mindset of Pilate in these verses, though. Luke records that Pilate was intentionally seeking to find a way to release Jesus. What we will find in the verses that follow is that Pilate even goes as far as to protest Jesus’ innocence — not something we might expect from a Roman official, but indeed Pilate is no dummy nor is he a puppet of the Jews as some have portrayed him. He recognizes the innocence of Jesus, his wife has already warned him not to have anything to do with this man, and Pilate also realizes that most of this is taking place because of the jealousy of the Jewish officials. Yet, he is being pressed hard.
It strikes me as interesting that we often falter when it comes to such pressures as well. True, most of us don’t have to face tribunals like this, but how often we falter when pressed from various sides and sacrifice truth, justice, and righteousness, for an “out” from whatever it is that we happen to be facing. We compromise and what we fail to remember is that one compromise always begets another until we find ourselves losing the battle for which we once hoped to stand.
Beloved, we are fallen and frail and apart from the work of God in us there is nothing good that can come from us. Yet, let us find hills that we are willing to die on and let us make those hills Truth, Justice, and Righteousness. Let that hill to die on be the call of Christ for he indeed commands us to take up our cross and follow him.