But they all cried out together, ‘Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas’— a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city, and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus; but they shouted out, ‘Crucify, crucify him!’ A third time he said to them, ‘Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no crime deserving death; I will therefore chastise him and release him.’ But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed.” (Lk 23: 18-23)

So, where were the healed, the consoled, the raised from the dead, by “this man,” Jesus Christ? Why are they not raising up their voices, witnessing to Him? They are still powerless, still incapable of being His witnesses. They were yet to receive the “power,” which did not come from them, to be true witnesses: “you shall receive power,” he says to His followers just before His ascension, “when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1: 8) But what we see at Jesus’s trial is the “power” of false, merely-human witness, confused and blinded by its innermost, unresolved issues of anger, envy, and fear, – and venting these issues in the “safe” anonymity of the public forum.

I cannot be His witness today, if I am out of touch with His Holy Spirit, no matter how “right” I believe any given cause to be. Because an angry Christian with a picket-sign does not yet His witness make. Let me take pause, and ask for His power and wisdom, lest I be carried away, perhaps unwittingly, by merely-human “witness,” which so often tramples the innocent. “Come and abide in us,” O Heavenly King, that we not smother Your voice with our “loud cries.”


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