May It Please The Crowd

Mark 15:12-15 

Answering again, Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” They shouted back, “Crucify Him!” But Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify Him!” Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.

If you have ever attended church on a Palm Sunday or Easter morning, I am sure you have heard this story. Jesus is betrayed and captured, put on trial before Pilate and Herod. Utter tragedy. Inconceivable unfaithfulness. Jesus double-crossed by His very disciple, denied by His beloved Simon Peter, and sentenced to death by the very people who just days before were welcoming Him with celebration and adoration. And all to fulfill Scripture…and to save our souls!

This story is also depicted in Matthew 27:22-16, Luke 23:13-25, and John 18:38-19:16. The Gospels compliment each other, to paint a complete picture of this moment. Each time I read this story, my heart cries out at the injustice served to my King. Today, however, I want to take a closer look at the war raging within Pilates’ heart, as he ultimately dismissed Jesus to death.

Pilate, faced with a difficult decision, turns to the crowd. “What do you want me to do?” He found no evil or wrong-doing in Jesus. The Gospels tell us that Pilate found Jesus innocent, and even wanted to set Him free. He found no guilt in Jesus, for Him to deserve death. But, he was afraid. He was afraid that a riot would ensue if he did not do what would please the crowd. The crowd’s voices were loud and persistent. He washed his hands of all guilt and refused to take accountability for his own actions. Even though it went against what he knew was right, he gave Jesus over to the crowd’s wishes.

This story contains an important lesson for us concerning the motive behind the decisions we make. How many times have we based our decisions on what would please those around us? How many of us live in the bondage of the expectations and opinions of others, afraid to do what we know is right or what we know God is telling us to do? Oh, how our lives would change if we cared about the opinion of the Lord more than the opinions of the crowd! We are faced with a decision to make, or we stumble across a difficult season in our life, or we are unable to deny that the Lord is telling us to “go” or “do.” And the first thing that comes in our mind is, “what would they think?” We make a decision based on what we think would be most approved by those in our social circles. We cope with the difficult season by seeking out the opinion of others, never going before the Lord for counsel. We fight the Lord’s direction in our life because we fear that He is taking us somewhere those we love the most on this earth may not be willing to follow. And then we wonder why we have an emptiness in our soul and an uneasy sense that we are not really doing what we should do. We are not really living where and how we should live.

What was the last thing God told you to do? Did you do it? Or did you succumb to doing what pleased the crowd? Now, I do acknowledge that the Lord will put people in your life to speak truth and help guide your way. But, we must not first listen to man, then later see if God agrees and only listen to Him when we does. Rather, we must first go to God, and test man’s guidance according to what is congruent with the truth of Scripture.

The promise in 1 Corinthians 2:9 is for those who dare to follow the voice of God over the rioting voices of this world. Who do you live to please? Who is your master? Who do you love? “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

 

What a Catch

Luke 5:3-11

Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking…And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”[a] 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

There once was a lowly man named Simon. Simon was a fisherman. Not a glorious job, by any means. But it provided. And he was good at it. Fishing is what he had always known. While the more privileged ones had the opportunity to grow up in the synagogues, learning the scriptures of old, following a teacher and maturing into a scholarly man,…Simon…caught fish. He loved working with his hands, and being outside in the fresh open air. But there was always a part of him that felt deep down inside that he was a fisherman because he could never amount to anything greater. This was his destiny. His past, present, and definitely his future was covered in funky fish smell. His insecurity was deep, and something he rarely let surface. But one thing this job did was teach him to rely upon the Lord for His provision. Every time he cast his net, he looked to the heavens and prayed for it to come back with a bountiful catch. most of the time, he made ends meet. And he continued on day by day, fish by fish, cast by cast. Over…and over…again.

Until the God of all Creation interrupted his mundane routine like a bolt of lighting over a darkened and desolate field!

Today was just one of those days. Simon cast that net all day. And nothing! The fish sure weren’t biting today. When he finally convinced himself that it was time to give up (something a man never does easily), his heart cried for God to provide for tomorrow. As he brought in his net, his heart tingled…Jesus. Jesus came into his boat. Imagine! The dirty smelly boat of a lowly fisherman. Oh no, He had heard of this Jesus. And as he stood in the radiance of His presence, Simon’s soul unmistakably knew this man was exceptional. “Cast down my net? I’ve been doing that all day and have gotten nothing.” As his mind questioned this intrusion – his heart knew he needed to obey. And with the toss of the net, and a dash of timid obedience, Simon pulled back into his boat the catch of his life! The nets were breaking and the boat was straining to keep the weight of this catch above water. Simon could not believe his eyes! Did he sell this fish in returns for a profit, securing himself the comfortable and privileged life he had always envied as the homely fisherman he was? No!

For Simon knew a great and powerful secret. That this man Jesus had brightened his past, transformed his present, and rewrote his future…with just a cast of a net.

Walk away with this in your heart today:

  1. Jesus did not cast that net out. He told Simon to cast his net, and Simon obeyed. Jesus calls us to walk to the precipice and put action to our faith. But it is there, in the moments where we reach the limits of ourselves, when we are on the brink of something glorious – that the Lord can do the mightiest of works in our lives.
  2. Simon had just reeled in the biggest catch of his life. AND HE WALKED AWAY FROM IT ALL. In our world view, this just does not make sense. He left security and comfort, for what? To be a nomad and “have no place to lay his head?” Simon was entrapped with the realization and conviction that the reward of following Jesus would be far far greater than any other earthly achievement. He dared to love Jesus for Himself, and not for the things that Jesus could do for him. For this catch was a sign of the Lord’s provision, to tangibly show him the truth of the words, “follow Me and I will meet your every need. You will never be in want again.”
  3. Simon obeyed. IMMEDIATELY. As each of the Gospels foretells this story, we see a general theme of PROMPT OBEDIENCE. Simon did not hesitate. Nobody had ever chosen him before, and here was Jesus, of all people, choosing him. He dropped every earthly comfort and he immediately left the boat.

Matthew 4:19-22

19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”[b] 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him…22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Mark 1:17-18

17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”[f] 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 

I DARE YOU TODAY TO PUT OUT INTO THE DEEP AND LET DOWN YOUR NETS. FOR IF YOU DARE TO BE BRAVE…YOU WILL BRING BACK INTO YOUR BOAT THE CATCH OF YOUR LIFE…A LIFE OF FREEDOM AS A DISCIPLE OF JESUS. HE IS CALLING. DO YOU HEAR HIM…”BELOVED, FOLLOW ME.”