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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Peaceful pond
A peaceful pond scene along our country walk.
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
I took this photo yesterday on our walk. Today it's rather overcast.

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"Wanting To Please The Crowd"

"Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd" (Exodus 23:2).  "With one voice they cried out, 'Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!'" (Luke 23:18). "Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them" (Mark 15:15a).

Humankind has always struggled with a need to please the crowd.  As it relates to teens we refer to it as "peer pressure."  Yet peer pressure can affect more than just teens.  In the Law God spoke through Moses and warned the people against following the crowd in doing wrong. There's a powerful incitement to side with the crowd and God calls this a perversion of justice. 

Pilate, pleasing the crowdThe ultimate expression of a crowd pleaser was visible at the trial of Jesus.  In the Apostle's Creed there's a simple line that states Jesus "suffered under Pontius Pilate." What a way to be known and be remembered by millions each week all around the world!

Pilate was a crowd pleaser and the quintessential politician. He had neither courage nor conviction.  On this particular day the crowd had made their wishes well known.  Notice the phrase
in our daily text concerning Pilate's motive in his decision making: "wanting to please the crowd." 

Warren Wiersbe, who is among our favorite Bible teachers, comments: "Pilate knew what was right, but refused to do anything about it.  Judas yielded to the devil in his great sin; Peter yielded to the flesh when he denied his Lord; but Pilate yielded to the world and listened to the crowd.  Pilate looked for the easy way, not the right way."

Pilate had the opportunity to do the right thing and a careful reading of the Gospel texts indicates he certainly knew what the right thing was.  He was deeply troubled within and though his wife expressed spiritual sensitivity and sensibility he refused to listen to her. When he faced the pressure of the crowd who cried out "Crucify Him" Pilate's cowardly lack of convictions is his defining moment in history.  

No Compromise
We continue to face this tension in so many situations. We all deal with "the crowd" and have a compulsion to please with the intent of getting along with others. Standing up against the crowd can have severe consequences.

Are there not some characteristics of Pilate in each of us?  May God help us to be courageous and to stand by our convictions today whether it pleases the crowd or not, regardless of the consequences.   We just may be called to do that today!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father God, I'm often tempted to add my voice to the crowd or simply blend in with the majority opinion.  But because I choose to follow You I want to obey Your Law rather than the conflicting laws of human origin; I want to hear Your voice rather than the conflicting voice of others;  I want to yield to the guidance of Your Holy Spirit rather than the prevailing philosophy of my day.  I choose to follow You and I want to do so no matter the cost.  Make me strong enough, courageous enough, and prayerful enough that I will stand even when others fall.  When it feels as though I am standing alone remind me that You and I are a majority.  When I stand up for You I stand in victory no matter the temporal consequences.  It would seem that Jesus was defeated in His physical death and the seeming hopeless days that followed.  But His triumph came when He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven where He sits at Your right hand interceding for us.  Remind us that obedience is required today that we might experience victory tomorrow.

Stanley HortonAdditional note: How many of the people who cried out "Hosanna in the highest!" were gathered in another crowd days later demanding Jesus' death with one condemning voice: "Away with this man!"  I wonder how many in either crowd acted with deep convictions or were they just following the crowd? I read an interesting insight regarding these thoughts in an article by Dr. Stanley Horton, one of my professors in Bible College, who is now 91 years old.  He still studies the Bible daily, writes and teaches Bible students all over the world.

He observes: "Actually those who shouted 'Hosanna' were people who were coming into Jerusalem.  The ones who shouted 'Crucify Him' were a Jerusalem group probably routed out of bed by the Sadducees and other enemies of Jesus. 

Most of those who shouted 'Hosanna' were like the two who met Jesus on the road as they went back to Emmaus.  They said, Jesus 'was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they cricified Him; but we had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel'" (Luke 24:19-21).

When I was in Bible College I recall having a question about an obscure Bible text in the Minor Prophets. I did not even know the reference but went to ask Dr. Horton, sharing as much of it as I could remember.  He immediately knew the rest of the verse and exactly where it was in the Bible! He went on to explain the verse to me.

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

"We All Bow Down"  Audio

"Man After Your Own Heart"  Audio

"I Surrender All"  Audio

"Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus"  Audio

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

Major Events of the Passion Week

Here's an interesting chart from a study Bible that may be helpful as you study the Bible this week. It sure helps me to have a sense of when the events took place.

Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem - Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19
Jesus Clears the Temple -  Mt. 21:12,13; Mk. 11:15-17; Lk. 19:45,46
Jesus' authority challenged in the temple - Mt. 21:23-27; Mk. 11:27-33; Lk. 20:1-8
Jesus teaches stories and confronts the Jewish leaders Mt. 21:28-23:36; Mk. 12:1-40; Lk. 20:9-47   
Greeks ask to see Jesus Jn. 12:20-26
The Olivet Discourse Mt. 24; Mk. 13; Lk. 21:5-38
Judas agrees to betray Jesus Mt. 26:14-16; Mk. 14:10,11; Lk. 22:3-6
The Last Supper -  Mt. 26:26-29; Mk. 14:22-25; Lk. 22:14-20
Jesus speaks to the disciples in the upper room -  Jn 13-17
Jesus struggles in Garden of Gethsemane - Mt. 26:36-46; Mk. 14:32-42; Lk. 22:39-46; Jn. 18:1
Jesus is betrayed and arrested - Mt. 26:47-56; Mk. 14:43-52; Lk. 22:47-53; Jn. 18:2-12
Jesus is tried by Jewish and Roman authorities and disowned by Peter - Mt 26:57-27:2, 11-31; Mk 14:53-15:20; Lk 22:54-23:25; Jn 18:13-19:16
Jesus is crucified and buried - Mt 27:31-56; Mk 15:20-41; Lk 23:26-49; Jn 19:17-30

The resurrection - Mt. 28:1-10; Mk 16:1-11; Lk 24:1-12; Jn 20:1-18

(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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