Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. (Mark 15:15 NIV)
When I was a kid, it seemed like parents, teachers, and other adults were always talking about the danger of peer pressure. My dad often used to quote me 1 Corinthians 15:33: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Peer pressure could lead you to do things you’d never do on your own, it was full of pitfalls and evil influences and would cause you to turn your back on your family, your church, your God, and everything good in this world.
So, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration… but then again, maybe it’s not. I don’t know what they call “peer pressure” when you’re an adult, but I don’t think it’s any less real or dangerous. By all accounts, Pilate would’ve released Jesus to go free. However, he gave Barabbas to the crowd and condemned Jesus to crucifixion because he wanted to satisfy the crowd. He had an innocent man tortured to death because he wanted to please the people.
One of the greatest challenges pastors face is what I call the tyranny of man. It’s the desire to please the people, which isn’t necessarily bad until it conflicts with pleasing the Lord by being obedient to what He calls us to do. Rather than pursuing the path God has laid out for us and our churches, pastors often struggle with a desire to keep the peace, avoid rocking the boat, and hope that it all turns out in the end (because let’s be honest, most people really don’t like change–even good change). One seasoned pastor told me early in my ministry, “When you’ve got equal numbers of people mad at you on each side of an issue, you’re probably right where God wants you to be.” It’s funny but true!
No doubt it’s the same in your workplace, home, school, or circle of friends. Whether you’re a kid or a grown-up, we all battle with the need to be accepted, to be approved and to be included, and that can easily turn into the tyranny of man. We can revert to living at the beck and call of others, failing to set appropriate boundaries, and living in fear of letting someone else down, and even flirting with sin because we want to “satisfy the crowd.”
This verse reminded me of what the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Galatia.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10 NIV).
My prayer for us this week is that we will be servants of Christ, living for His pleasure and not by the tyranny of man.