READ: Mark 15:1-20
THINK: Have you ever noticed how fickle people can be--how quickly their moods, opinions and behaviors can be swayed depending on the situation or how others respond to them? Have you also noticed how people will do things when they are with a group or in a crowd--things they would never do, or even consider, on their own? Call it peer pressure, a group dynamic, a herd mentality--call it whatever you want--but it's a sad reality that unrestrained crowds tend to throw aside inhibitions and bring out the worst in people. And when a few lose control, others often follow, all for the sake of two extremes--getting attention or trying to blend in. Christ's followers, however, must dare to be different, resisting the inclination to imitate destructive behaviors. Instead, they must lead by example and seek to influence others for good.
RESPOND: Why do you think the crowd--some of whom had likely witnessed Jesus' ministry and even celebrated Him before--was so easily persuaded to ask for Barabbas' release and for Jesus' crucifixion (vv.9-14)? Why did Pilate eventually hand Jesus over to be crucified (v. 15)? How are we sometimes like Pilate? Why do you think the soldiers were abusive to Jesus, when they likely had little or no previous interaction with Him? How do you think you would have handled yourself as a soldier in that situation? Would you have joined in the ridicule? Why or why not? Why do people so easily engage in destructive behavior when they are with a group or crowd?
PRAY: Ask God for boldness and strength of character to avoid destructive situations and to resist pressure from people to behave shamefully. Ask for wisdom in choosing the friends and groups with whom to keep company.
ACT: When you are with a friend or in groups today, make a conscious effort to resist negative pressure to say or do anything that might displease God or hinder your witness for Him. Instead, be a leader and try to influence your groups for good, helping to bring out the best in those around you.
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