Today’s Reading: Matthew 27-28
Today’s Reflection: Matthew 27:15-18
15) Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16) And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17) So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18) For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up.
We know Jesus came to die for our sins and open the doors to salvation and eternal life to all people (John 3:16), but His death was not some simple or random event. It was, in fact, the inevitable outcome of sin’s effect on humanity: that rather than worship the God who created us, loves us and wants to save us, our sinful human pride would drive us to kill Him.
The powerful and destructive role pride played in the conspiracy to murder Jesus is shocking, not just in how easily so-called righteous men could be driven to sacrifice the life of a completely innocent and truly righteous man, but also in how everyone knew the truth behind their motivations but still went along with the plot. Consider:
- Pilate, the Roman prefect governing over the occupied territory of Judea, knew the Pharisees conspired to kill Jesus because they were jealous of His influence, and feared losing their authority over among the people (Matthew 27:18)
- Pilate had further evidence of Jesus innocence, from the dreams tormenting his wife (Matthew 24:19), but he feared that if he stood in the way of the Pharisees and the crowds crying out for Jesus death, he might lose control of Jerusalem (Matthew 27:24), something which would cause him embarrassment among his superiors in the Roman Empire.
- Many of the people knew Jesus was the Messiah, even among the authorities of the Jewish people, but they wouldn’t openly admit it for fear of being cast out of the synagogue by the Pharisees (John 9:22; 12:42). Many of these same people, who had just a week earlier greeted Jesus arrival at Jerusalem with cheering and praises (Luke 19:37-40) were same ones who now called for Jesus death, convinced to do so by the chief priests and elders (Matthew 27:20).
What were the motivations of the people who conspired to kill Jesus? Jealousy, fear of losing status or reputation, fear of rejection, fear of judgment—all egotistic, prideful concerns. How often do we find ourselves consumed with the same cares and worries? Doing things that are wrong in order to boost our own feelings of self-worth?
Note that even religious authorities are not immune from this. Remember that people in positions of spiritual leadership are still people first. Sadly, I’ve witnessed that pride can take hold even of those charged with spiritually nurturing others, leading them to do terribly misguided things that are ultimately destructive to those following them and to themselves.
Jeremiah 23:2 – Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD.”
We should know that when we allow ourselves to be led by pride we are adopting the same attitudes as those who murdered Jesus and participated in the conspiracy surrounding His death. No matter how noble we may think our intentions are, pride and self-assurance will lead us to destructive actions that separate us from the life to be found in Jesus and the salvation He freely offers. Pride kills.
Proverbs 16:18 – Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.