In the audio podcast of this service, the Scripture Reading starts at 25 min 20 secs: Mark 15:1-15

The Sermon starts at 27 min 20 secs: “Leading with a wet finger”

Pastor Todd Buurstra

Pastor Todd Buurstra - Pastor of Worship and WitnessPilate was clearly shaken as he huddled with his version of Karl Rove and James Carville. Now what do I do? he said as the crowd continued chanting in the courtyard: Crucify Him! Funny, replied one advisor, just a few days ago they were yelling Hosanna! Pilate was nervous because Palestine was a tinderbox. Just a little friction and occasional insurrections, like the thug Barabbas led, could become a bonfire of riots. Crucify Him! Here’s my problem, Pilate began, you and I know that this Jesus character is no threat to Caesar, but since they didn’t take the bait and chose Barabbas to be freed this Passover, what choices do I have?! Not very many. Your poll numbers are dangerously low. I think you’re going to have to sacrifice this Jesus guy for the unity of the people. So Pilate…

If you remember Mel Gibson’s flogging scene, the Romans used a leather whip with sharpened pieces of bone/rock. It tore Jesus’ back to shreds. Few floggees remained conscious. Some lost an eye from a stray lash–39 lashes were to be one shy of death.
Shame on Pilate for caving in and using Jesus for a whipping boy! As William Barclay commented on Jesus’ silence before sentencing, The cowardice of Pilate in face of the mob was a barrier no words could pierce. Pilate was leading with a wet finger.

Do we ever cave in like Pilate? I suppose that we could ask this of many situations, but how about with the kids on retreat, we apply it to grand/parenting. Doesn’t it seem like the pendulum has swung from Father Knows Best of 50 years ago to Father Knows Less today? I think the culture has moved from a more parent-centered family to a more child-centered society. So parents feel a more pressured to parent by poll numbers. Whether its:

Those revealing V neck blouses that everyone is wearing; or,

Those late night Saturday parties that make church impossible since all my friends.

That language composed of f-words so common on MTV that every other word..

That individual grazing that make the family meal an archeological treasure;

That sedentary lifestyle plopped in front of computers for games/social

That me-oriented approach rather than a mission-oriented life.

So that when we get wore down and just give in to the pressure, the kids end up getting whipped. This Newsweek cartoon says a lot. Wishing to satisfy the kids…he flogged…

So how do we respond to the crowd’s pressure? First, I think leaders choose the crowd they want to be pressured by—Pilate’s crowd was different from Palm Sunday’s crowd. Pilate’s crowd were Barabbas supporters who, because he was an insurrection thug, would have been radically anti-Rome, whereas Palm Sunday’s crowd were Jesus supporters, hoping for the Messiah. What crowd do you want to be pressured by-maturing kids or mature adults? Do you talk to anyone about the struggle? Support group, anybody?

And yet sometimes everyone has to face an opposing crowd, so what do you do? I try to pray out a clear stance, and stick firmly to it. Normally I don’t have a problem fin-ding a place where I believe God wants me to stand, my weakness is staying there. Be that in church leadership or parenting, staying firm can be tough. But in my best moments, I sort of put my helmet on and say, I’m going to feel beat up about this one, but here goes…

because I’d rather feel whipped than have my kids get whipped by life later on. You, too?
So this morning, let Communion symbolize for you how Jesus led the interference to go against the flow of the crowd. It got him flogged, but by his stripes we are healed.


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