Scripture Reading: Leviticus 21:1-22:33 / Mark 15:1-32 / Psalm 31:19-24
April 1 – April Fools’ Day is not a national holiday but is widely recognized and celebrated in many countries as a day when people play practical jokes and pranks on each other. In 1957, the British Broadcasting Corporation pulled a prank known as the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest prank. They broadcast a fake video of a Swiss farmer picking freshly grown spaghetti. The BBC was later flooded with requests to purchase spaghetti plants!
April Fool’s pranks are harmless and certainly not designed to malign or bring reproach on others. The tragedy is when others look for an opportunity to foster deceit, error and rebellion. One such attack that took many months to prepare took place before Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea.
Jesus was brought before Pilate and charged with insurrection. They said Jesus claimed to be the king of the Jews in opposition to Caesar. This was a serious accusation and a political threat against the Roman Empire. This was a trumped up attack on Christ and he was falsely accused.
The chief priests and elders did not stop because, “The chief priests accused him of many things.” (Mark 15:4) They were filled with anger, envy, hostility and hatred. It was prophesied that Jesus would come unto His own people but they would not receive Him but reject Him. He was certainly despised and rejected by the Jewish nation. Spiritual envy and pride are destructive. Those who defy a holy God and attribute His holy work to evil, darkness and satan are guilty of blasphemy.
Pilate was unconvinced of Christ’s guilt and turned to the crowd for direction. The crowd was worked up into frenzy and followed the prompting of the religious rulers. When Pilate asked them, “What crime has he committed?” They shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” (vs.14) I find it strange why the world is so opposed to Christ when they know nothing about His divine grace and love.
Pilate publicly declared Jesus was innocent of all charges but “Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.” (vs. 15) Barabbas was an insurrectionist. He was a murderer and resorted to terrorist methods to overthrow the Roman government. Ironically, Barabbas was imprisoned and Jesus came to set the captives free. Barabbas means “son of the father” and the only begotten Son of the heavenly Father took upon Himself the sin of Barabbas and mankind, dying in our place.
The chief priests presented false reasons to condemn Jesus; the crowd offered no reason to condemn Christ and Pilate had selfish reasons to crucify Jesus. Those are not valid reasons for Christ’s crucifixion but there is one reason that validated and orchestrated the way of the cross… Jesus willingly laid down His life so we may live!