There is an astounding contrast of leadership revealed when you read Mark 15. In the biblical narrative Jesus has already been arrested by the Jewish religious elite. His time had come to move toward the cross. Those who arrested him thought that they were doing away with him. But this is why he came, to go to the cross. The trial was a mockery and all that they could truly accuse him of was laying claim to his very identity: Messiah, the Christ, the son of the blessed, the son of man. This was blasphemous to these religious leaders. But they needed Pilate’s judgment as a civil authority to have Jesus executed. When Jesus comes before Pilate he makes no defense, save one. Again, he can’t deny his very identity as King of the Jews. Usually a rival king would be enough for a Rome appointed authority to have someone executed, but Pilate refuses to do so. He knew that it was out of envy that the Jewish leaders desired to have Jesus put to death. The religious leaders stirred up the crowd to invoke a custom of substitution, Barabbas for Jesus. And this brings us to Mark 15:15.
So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
Allow me to make a few leadership observations.
The religious leaders used the crowd to get what they wanted.
Pilate, fearing a riot, satisfied the crowd to keep the peace.
The crowd, in true group think mode, decides that it is better to substitute a murderous insurrectionist for a teacher/healer/holy man and have him put to death.
Jesus, wishing to serve “the crowd”, lays down his life for their sins-a genuine substitute. The innocent for the guilty. The living for the dead. That they might have real life.
Allow me to stretch the leadership application a bit.
We always have three choices regarding “the crowd”: use the crowd, satisfy the crowd, or serve the crowd. Using the crowd is usually for our own ends and our own glory. Satisfying the crowd is usually out of fear and the need for acceptance. Serving the crowd is hard and humble work and can often mean difficult choices of sacrifice to give them what they don’t want in the present to take them where they ultimately want to go.
What are your thoughts?