The Roman governor Pilate declared three times that Jesus was innocent and did not deserve the death penalty. Even the perverse Herod had pronounced him innocent. Pilate hoped he could appease the Jewish leaders by having Jesus beaten and then released. He even offered to release Barabbas, a convicted criminal, but that did not work. Appeasement never works, not in families, schools or in government. Finally, Pilate gave in to the demands of the mob to have Jesus crucified (Luke 23:23-24).
Let us examine why Pilate did what he clearly did not want to do and went against what he believed was right. I observe two primary reasons that motivated Pilate to give in to the demands of the mob and have Jesus killed. First, is the fear of rejection. He feared to be rejected by Caesar. He had already made some mistakes as governor, and he could not afford another one. Human beings fear rejection more than anything else in life. Pilate could not stand the thought of being rejected by Caesar. However, he was ultimately rejected anyway.
Children who grow up not liking themselves have greater difficulty making friends because of their concerns about rejection. These concerns often trigger self-defensive behaviors that interfere with building meaningful relationships. Rejection is one of the most difficult human emotions to deal with. If a child learns how to deal with it early on, they will be miles ahead in preparing for future feelings of rejection. If they do not, they will be overwhelmed with feelings of inferiority all through life.
Parents, your children will face situations like this where they will be tempted to appease the crowd to gain their acceptance. Having gained that acceptance at the cost of their integrity, they will feel like they have sold their soul.
What they need is the emotional and spiritual strength to be able to stand up against peer pressure and stay faithful to their convictions. They need courage to face the opposition and even the consequences. In appeasement, we lose our authenticity. Only when we are true to our convictions and beliefs can we hang on to our integrity. If they live in a home where they see their parents demonstrate their own security in Christ, they will embrace it.
The second reason Pilate gave in to the crowd was that he had no commitment to the truth. He didn’t even know what truth was (John 18:38). He would have fit in well in today’s society where people think that truth is whatever you want to make it; there is no such thing as absolute truth. Jesus, however, declared to the world that he is truth (John 14:6).
If I gave you a map to help you get to the St. Louis Arch, or maybe if I helped you use your phone app as a GPS to guide you there, I would be helping to guide you. However, if I said, “I will lead you there, follow me”—then I become your map. Jesus became our map to truth—to God and to heaven. Knowing Jesus is the beginning of having a conviction to the truth. The truth empowers you to overcome the fear of rejection and always do what you know is right even if others don’t think so.