The Futility of Satisfaction
“So, Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas …” (Mark 15:15)
Wishing to satisfy the crowd. This statement is packed with meaning. In that crucial moment, the eternal destinies of every human being lay in the balance. Pilate, out of sheer political and personal interest, chose to cave to the persuasiveness of the crowd rather than to stand for the conviction he felt in his heart. He wished to satisfy the crowd.
The irony associated with crowd opinion is that it vacillates with the changing of times and seasons. Pilate thought that he was in control of the situation. But control was the the last thing any of these players possessed. The sovereign, omniscient God had ordained this moment before the foundation of the world. And He was fully in control, orchestrating the events of Christ’s arrest and brutal death.
The implications here typically force people into two camps–those who would say that life is nothing more than deterministic fatalism, and those who would still maintain, regardless of how it appears, that man nonetheless possesses free will. But this misses Mark’s point altogether. Mark is highlighting the fickleness of the human heart when public opinion vies for its worship and allegiance. In seeking to satisfy and please the crowd, no one wins, neither the one seeking praise, because immediately he has broken allegiance with his own heart, nor the crowd, because their fickleness is never ultimately satisfied. The very demands they seek are forgotten in mere moments, new demands are made, and the cycle continues. No one is ultimately satisfied with this game.
Yet God was satisfied on this day because “it pleased the Lord to bruise Him” (Isaiah 53:10). No human instrument, neither peasant nor prince, neither crowd nor Commander, could have thwarted the plan of God on that redemption day. No one was satisfied on that day, except the wrath of God and the will of the Lord. Our salvation rests in the fact that God was satisfied and none other.