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Mark 259 - Satisfied

Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

Mark 15:15

Some people are harder to satisfy than others. Some people are satisfied easily and quickly. Some require more time, energy, and effort. And there are some people that are just about impossible to satisfy.

As I write these words, my mind is in overdrive as images of faces flash over top of one another in my mind. Yep, there are faces of people who were easy to satisfy. And then there’s faces of people who were were impossible to satisfy. I’m confident that different faces and names have also flashed in your mind.

The faces that make the biggest impression always seem to be those who can’t be satisfied. They created the greatest emotional upheaval inside. They generated the most disappointment and anger in the people around them.

I always thought, “What is it that I’m missing? What can I do or say to help them? Satisfy them?” And then I came to the conclusion that it was a whole lot less about me and mostly about them. The questions changed into “What’s wrong with them? Who hurt them? And how?”

This shift changed my thinking and feelings about the unsatisfied. They were still responsible for their actions and words, but they had taken a turn down that dark road known as emptiness, which leads to the land of unsatisfied.

Pilate, the master politician, knew that he couldn’t control the crowd. The mob was worked up into a lather and wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less that releasing Barabbas and a guilty verdict for Jesus followed by a public execution. And this wasn’t any humane, pain free death by lethal injection done behind closed, sanitized doors.

I just can’t wrap my brain around choosing a well-known terrorist and murderer over someone who said things like, “Your faith has made you well” or “I came for the lost sheep of Israel.” He had healed the sick, raised the dead, given hope to the hopeless. And yet they choose Barabbas.

And why did Pilate give them Barabbas? Because it was just enough to satisfy the crowd. But they were more than just a crowd. They were a bloodthirsty crowd. They wanted to see the spectacle. The mind-blowing high of seeing someone else suffer. Their lives were empty, so they wanted them filled. Even if it was just for a moment, with cheering, jeering, mocking, and insulting.

And they got exactly what they asked for. Jesus was beaten with a whip that had many leather thongs that were loaded with bone or metal. When the whip hit its mark, it did more than just hit skin. Bone or metal got stuck and ripped out gashed of flesh and muscle.

One thing to remember is that the flogging wasn’t carried out by just anyone, or even armatures. No, these were professional soldiers who were well trained and experienced. They knew how to inflict maximum pain and suffering. And when they were done with him, when his back was one, big, open wound that was bleeding and oozing, they turned him over to another set of soldiers who were professionals at crucifying.

It’s easy to point the finger. What’s wrong with them? How could they be so cruel? How could they treat someone like that? How could they let someone like Barabbas walk out scot-free and then turn their backs on some like Jesus? Someone who hadn’t hurt anyone.

The answer is simple, but hard. You and I are no different than them. We would do the same because we’ve already done the same thing. No, we probably haven’t whipped anyone with a physical whip, but we’ve all emotionally whipped people with our words and actions, inflicting searing emotional pain. We’ve also turned our back on good people, not wanting to be associated with them because it wasn’t the popular thing to do.

Not only have we done this with people, but we’ve also all done it to God. The one who gave us life. The one who loves us to the point of dying for us on the cross. We have turned our backs on him, denied him.

It’s a well-known fact that pain is magnified based on the source and closeness of the person inflicting it. When a complete stranger says things, yes, we feel it, but we can easily brush it off. When a friend disappoints, it huts more. When a very close friend says that hurtful word, it stings deeper. When a parent, child, or spouse does it, the excruciating pain goes deep and won’t go away.

Imagine the pain that God feels when we turn away from him? When we’re not thankful for him and what he gives us daily. When we abuse his kindness. When we ignore his patience with us?

If you’ve got that painful picture in your mind, you’re starting to grasp how much God loves you. Because instead of just wiping you off the face of the planet, he sent Jesus to pay the price for that and every other offense we’ve ever committed. Now, God is satisfied and can love on us.

Now that’s amazing grace.

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