October 20

Text: Matthew 27:20

But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitudes to ask for Barabbas, and to put Jesus to death.   (NASB)

The author of the Gospel of Matthew declared that the primary responsibility for what happened rested with the determined, aggressive acts of some of the Jewish leadership.  Had the Jewish crowd followed their initial desires, they would have asked for Jesus’ release.  Pilate was correct in his initial assessment of the situation (Matthew 27:15-17).  However, the chief priests and elders persuaded the Jewish audience to ask for the release of Barabbas and the death of Jesus.  Note the persuasion is not for Jesus’ imprisonment, but for Jesus’ death.

Many people are too easily persuaded.  There was a time when mass persuasion to do good (according to God’s definition of good) was a powerful social force.  As the society increasingly blurred the concept and definition of “good,” manipulation increasingly became an acceptable form of persuasion.  It seems today that manipulation and persuasion are interchangeable.  Now “we” are manipulated for “our” own benefit.  Too many things are no longer a matter of conviction, but a matter of convenient pragmatism.

With too many, it is no longer a matter of what you believe.  Nor a matter of principle.  Nor a matter of values based on principle.  Nor a matter of understanding what is right and why it is right.  Nor a matter of determining what is “good.”  Nor a matter of determining what is “righteous.”  It is a matter of determining “what will work” right now, thus giving me “what I want” right now.  It is “sound bite” answers (that last 15 seconds) to complex questions (that require lengthy exploratory discussions).  Truth rarely is seen or determined easily!

The situation has made skeptics of all of us!  Searching is a frightening experience for most of us!

“Please, someone in authority just give us the answers.”  It is too simple to be interested in convenience and comfort.  It is too demanding to value truth.  The solution: “Think for me!  Tell me what to do!”

Suggestion for reflection: Do you prefer persuasion or manipulation?  Why?  (Read John 3:16-21.)

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 Copyright 2011 David Chadwell