“So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.”
Growing up, we are all warned about the power of peer pressure. We hear about saying no to drugs, standing up to bullies, and of course, “if your friends told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it?”
Peer pressure is powerful, even when it’s not facing the formal, “you should do this to be cool,” kind of peer pressure we all expected in middle school. As adults, that peer pressure sometimes takes the form of “people pleasing.” We fear doing anything that will cause resentment, disdain, or rejection from our peers. We want to keep everyone happy. This is certainly the pressure that Pontius Pilate felt when he stood before the Jewish religious leaders at Jesus’ last trial.
When reading through the story in Scripture, it’s obvious that Pilate is, at the very least, unsure about Jesus’ culpability. It’s probably safe to say that he almost positive that Jesus was innocent of the crimes they claimed against him. He knew that it was only out of envy that the Jewish leaders had brought Jesus to him. But he that’s not the judgment that he pronounced. No, he delivered Jesus to be crucified even though he knew that he was innocent. Why? Because he wanted to satisfy the crowd.
Today, let’s reflect on the ways that we betray our beliefs and values in order to satisfy the crowds. Do you ever refrain from speaking up about something because you fear the reaction of people around you? Do you ever change the way to speak or behave to fit into a crowd? Do you act one way around a certain group of people and another way at church or in churched crowds?
People-pleasing doesn’t sound like the worst thing a Christian could struggle with. Underneath it all, however, it can be a very dangerous tendency. After all, it was people-pleasing that ended up condemning Jesus to death.
Sometimes it’s small. But as the desire to satisfy the crowd grows, the repercussions can too. Be careful of who you’re trying to please. Remember that the satisfaction of God is worth far more than the approval of man.
Help us not to be people-pleasers in that we succumb to their pressure rather than your will. Help us to prioritize your will over our own and over the crowd’s.
In Jesus’ Name,