Today's verses are Mark 15:6-8: "Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked.  And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas.  And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them." Pilate, the Roman governor, annually instituted the custom of releasing a prisoner to try and gain favor with the masses.  One of those criminals was named Barabbas.  He was a notorious prisoner who had committed crimes of insurrection, robbery and murder.  He may have been a member of a local stealth militia that tried to victimize the wealthy upper class and the Romans.  That made criminals like Barabbas very popular in the eyes of the common person.  The masses looked upon him as a hero.

The crowed approached Pilate and began to ask him for this favor.  Had the crowds been salted with antagonism and hatred against Jesus?  Had the chief officials planted in a few the desire to free Barabbas instead of Jesus that then spread through the masses? Had the few then influenced the larger crowd to be against Jesus and demand his death? That's the way mob violence most often happens.  A few angry people stir up all the others.  Then the angry mob does what the few desire.  That seems to be what's happening as the crowd gathered during the Passover feast.

It can happen to all of us too.  We can easily become angry against someone not because we've done the necessary research about who that person really is but because a few other people have stirred our hearts toward anger.  It's easy to be moved toward hatred against another because of what we hear about someone without knowing them personally.

For love to persist within, we must resist hatred at all levels.  When we hear something about someone else, we must first choose to love. Then we do our research.  We find out the facts.  Love must win over hatred.  We must return evil with good.  Even if we find out the person is evil, we cannot allow hatred to consume our hearts.  We must refuse to let a few others influence what we think about people.

We are not only guardians of our own reputation but also guardians of others' reputation.  We must work hard not to give into the path of least resistance when it comes to our opinion of others.

That's what we'd want if someone said something negative about us, isn't it?