At the crucial moment of Jesus' trial, the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate proclaims Jesus’ innocence, but Luke tells us that “with one voice they cried out” (Luke 23 v 18) for Jesus to be crucified. Who are the “they”? It’s the chief priests, the rulers and the people—everyone else.
They all cry out together. This is a universal, unanimous verdict from people of every walk of life and social class. Everyone cries out: “Get rid of Him!” Five days previously, crowds had hailed Jesus as a king; now, crowds are calling for His blood.
In Acts 3 v 13-15, Peter places the blame squarely on the crowd. Speaking to the men of Israel, he says:
The God of our fathers has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life.
Why? Why do they call for His death so viciously? Surely there is some mob mentality there—people do crazy things when the crowd is going in that direction. Perhaps there is a sense of disappointment with Jesus. This guy obviously isn’t the king who is going to overthrow Rome. He’s a fake; he’s a phony.
But perhaps there is something deeper going on, because in that shout we see most clearly the natural state of man. We are, at our core, God’s enemies. There, in the howling hatred of the crowd, we see something of our natural attitude towards God. When it came down to a choice, they prefer to have a murderer live among them rather than God Himself.
Human beings simply can’t be neutral towards God. There is no middle ground. He is perfectly holy. We were created to know Him and enjoy Him and obey Him and worship Him and be satisfied in Him. But we have all rebelled against that. We have all looked for fulfillment and joy in other places. We have invested our lives in the pursuit of wealth and power and pleasure. We have done whatever seemed right to us rather than what God has told us is right.
And so now we are God’s enemies. We are rebels against Him and He is a threat to our way of life. He stands between me and my desire to run my world the way that I want to. And every time I decide to live my way instead of under Jesus’ rule, I am wishing He did not exist; that He were dead.
Do you think you would have been different from the people in the crowd that day? Can you hear your own voice calling for Jesus’ death? I can see my own face in that mob. The tragedy of our race is that every human being has divine blood on their hands. The wonder of history is that the divine Son shed His blood for this same human race.
Extract taken from Passion p76-77