Today’s Bible reading is Mark 15. It’s good to read chapters like this and compare what we read with what we believe.
If you’ve been around church very long, you may have seen a Passion play that chronicles the last week of Jesus’ life. Normally the play portrays the masses of people welcoming Jesus on Palm Sunday, waving their palm branches. A few minutes later, the same masses call out for Jesus’ crucifixion.
Is that how it happened? Well, sort of.
In Mark 15:6-8, the people approach Pontius Pilate, requesting that he release one of the Roman prisoners as was his custom for the Passover. Pilate expected them to ask for Jesus to be released; he would gladly release Him because he felt that Jesus was not deserving of death.
However, the Chief Priests whipped up the crowd into a frenzy and the masses actually demanded that a prisoner named Barabbas be released. Barabbas had been convicted of what the Jewish leaders were accusing Jesus of: insurrection.
It’s important to note that when the people came to Pilate, they were hoping that he would release Jesus. But as is too frequently the case, the religious leaders exercised their toxic authority over the very people that God had entrusted to them. A mob mentality resulted and people behaved very differently than they would have otherwise.
Unfortunately, there are still religious leaders today who spiritually abuse the very people that God has entrusted to them. James tells us that God holds leaders to a higher standard (James 3:1). Jesus says that those who have been given more will be held more accountable. (Luke 12:48b)
This higher accountability is just limited to the “ordained”. There are many other “ordinary” people in leadership positions who will have to give an account for their toxic leadership. And there are still others who exercise toxic leadership who don’t have a leadership title.
Now, while God will hold the leaders accountable, isn’t there some accountability to the ordinary people to be careful who they “hitch their wagon to”?
Matthew 7 begins with the famous, “Don’t judge” (Matthew 7:1), but just a few verses later, Jesus cautions his followers to discern (ie, to judge) false teachers in order to avoid them. (Matthew 7:15-16)
Be careful who you “hitch your wagon to”. We all need healthy leaders who can lead us into a healthy relationship with God and other believers. And just because a particular religious leader is very popular doesn’t necessarily mean that they are godly or correct in what they’re teaching.
Be careful of the mob and the mob