Mark 15:8

So, when the crowd went up and began to ask Pilate to follow his usual custom,

pushy crowds
make up
their own rules

it makes no difference
generations old tradition
made up on the spot

whatever they want
they want now
and brook no delay

they’ll do the deal
we want you to get rid of
so now you get rid of

it doesn’t have to make sense
it just needs to be obeyed
and that right soon

The crowd enters the scene. While it is easy to make a connection with the mob that arrested Jesus and those who brought false witness at his trial before the Sanhedrin, the crowd may have been there to advocate for the release of Barabbas rather than for the trial of Jesus.

It may be that the triumph of entering Jerusalem cannot be connected to the venom expressed at the Antonia fortress that protected Pilate when he was in Jerusalem. The crowd may not have turned against Jesus; he became only a cog in their attempt to release Barabbas.

A Reader might also begin reflecting on Pilate’s political calculus about which father’s son was most likely to cause him the most difficulty in the near term. Is it the pretend insurrectionist who has already proved his ineptness by being captured in the first place? Is it the gathering a grass-roots movement that has already affected the economy of Geresene and thus of the Roman army with the loss of pigs (after all an army travels on it stomach), and sheer numbers of 4,000 and 5,000 people in one place (where a healing service could quickly turn into a political rally that looked at the root causes of poverty in an occupied country)?

While it is never easy to peer into the motivations of an occupier well-schooled in benign reasons for how Rome became so powerful and Israel so weak, it doesn’t take much to be able to see Pilate glad to play Barabbas-oriented crowds off against the chief priests and their anti-Jesus orientation. He can make two critical opposition factions happy for another day, thus delaying their resistance to his rule.

It also doesn’t take much to not see this as some grand G*D-Plan. Power refuses to recognize its own irrelevance and all the actions to this point are understandable as business-as-usual.

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