Will you please God or people?
Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. 19 Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, "Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream." 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, "Which of the two do you want me to release for you?" And they said, "Barabbas." 22 Pilate said to them, "Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" They all said, "Let him be crucified!" 23 And he said, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Let him be crucified!"
To make personal application of the truth of this passage, let's review how we got to the second day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the day when the Passover lamb was eaten and Jesus was arrested. Matthew 26:1-2 informs us of Jesus' prediction two days before the Passover that He would be delivered up and killed. Matthew 26:3-5 informs us that the chief priests and elders plotted to arrest and kill Jesus by stealth, but didn't want to do it during the feast lest there be an uproar among the people.
The religious leaders wanted to please the people.
Matthew 26:47 tells us that Judas had persuaded the chief priests and elders to change their minds and arrest Jesus after the Passover meal when Jesus took the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane.
Let’s also review what Pilot knew before he gave the Jewish people a choice of having a notorious prisoner, Barabbas, or Jesus released to fulfill the custom of the Roman governor to release a prisoner during the feast. He knew the chief priests and elders wanted Jesus killed because of their envy of the following Jesus was gaining. He knew Jesus had done nothing deserving imprisonment, let alone death. He knew the desire of his wife was to release Jesus because of how she suffered in a dream because of Jesus, a righteous man (Matthew 27:18,19,23).
Pilot, the Governor, wanted to please the people.
What can we learn from this passage?
We can learn that what Jesus says happens. He was arrested and killed during the Passover Feast despite the chief priests and elders not wanting to do it during the feast. What Jesus says happens even if circumstances may make it appear differently.
We can learn that unrighteous rulers rule for their own benefit and not to do what they know is right. If enough people threaten the ruler, the ruler will go against what he knows is the right thing to do so he can please the people and benefit himself. We can learn that envy of another person's success can cause us to do what is wrong to keep that person's success from removing our personal benefits.
God's word commands us not to covet or envy what other people have for good reason. Envy leads to the practice of evil and destroys people.
We see in this passage of scripture the danger and destruction of living according to wrong motives. We need to follow Jesus' example and teaching. As we do, many people will benefit right along with us and be saved from the destructiveness of sin and Satan.
Who will you choose to please, God or people?
Three key questions to ask as we prayerfully read the scriptures:
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