Today’s reading is Matthew 27.
There is an increasingly romanticized notion about the life and ministry of Jesus. To hear it told today, Jesus came into town, ticked off all the oppressive elites, while He called all the marginalized, vulnerable, oppressed people to Himself just loving on them until they turned their lives over to Him. But those wicked, awful Roman oppressors and hypocritical religious elites got Jesus crucified. Have you ever noticed though who actually got Jesus crucified? It was the crowds. It was the marginalized, vulnerable, weak common people. Pilate knew the religious elites had brought Jesus to him because they were jealous. That is, he knew Jesus had garnered a following among the people of which the Jewish leaders were envious. So, Pilate, backed into a corner because of his own political situation and trying to get out of crucifying Jesus without causing a career ending riot, decided to give the decision to the people–the oppressed, vulnerable, marginalized people whom Jesus had welcomed, touched, loved, served, healed, cleansed. And they shouted, “Crucify Him!!!” They chose a known thief, murderer, and insurrectionist to be set free. Of course, the priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to do this. But how? Up until then, they hadn’t taken action because they feared the crowds. But somehow on that day they were able to persuade the crowds. And here is the key we need to understand. The vulnerable, oppressed, weak, poor, marginalized crowds turned on Jesus for the exact same reason the scribes, elders, priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees did. Jesus didn’t measure up to the kind of Messiah they expected or wanted. As far as every one of these groups was concerned, Jesus had demonstrated He didn’t come to serve their interests. And so they were pliable. A week earlier, they were ready to make Jesus King. But He hadn’t come in doing what they expected, so today, they were amenable to His execution. Wow! The amazing thing was, there wasn’t a single person in that crowd that if you had asked them would have said, “Why yes, I think the Messiah should be crucified.” Yet, they ended up doing so because they all, with just a handful of exceptions (perhaps 120), decided this guy couldn’t possibly be the Messiah because He didn’t act the way they wanted Him to. I know I need to take that as a warning.
Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 28.