Crowd Reaction: Day 29 of Lent
13 Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16 I will therefore have him flogged and release him.”
18 Then they all shouted out together, “Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!” 19 (This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) 20 Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22 A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.” 23 But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed.
CROWD. Although it is often suggested that the people were especially fickle (shouting “Hosanna” and then “Crucify” within a few days), that may not be the case. If, as suggested in Note 3, there was a gap of some weeks between Palm Sunday and Jesus’ arrest, there was time for people to become disillusioned and for Jesus to lose some support. Few people are going to be on the streets at daybreak when the trial before Pilate begins! A “rented crowd” seems more likely. It may well have been that, by the time word of these events had flashed round the markets, the sentence had been passed and was being carried out.
John gives special treatment to the Pilate confrontation.
Chief priests and Sanhedrin councilors, yes; but not all the people, surely, Lord?
Not that early in the morning.
Were the others “rent-a-crowd,” with rabble-rousers positioned by the priests to sway the mood?
Were none of your friends and followers there or those who shouted “Hosanna!”?
Surely not all people are as fickle as that? Or are we naive about crowd dynamics?
It’s easy to feel lost and alone in a crowd;
it’s so easy to be carried along and to accept what everyone else is saying;
and we are manipulated more than we realize by advertising and marketing and polls.
Help me keep my wits about me; and save me from going with the crowd till I know where they’re going.
We praise you with all the crowds of heaven.
We pray for all who feel lost or alone in a city, and all whose voice is never heard.
We pray for calm in crowds of people shopping, in traffic jams, at sporting events and in demonstrations.
And for the crowds of refugees we pray help.