“And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.” (Mark 15:15)
Of all the fears that plague humanity, none are more soul-imperiling than the fear of man. Many a man, like Pontius Pilate, has sacrificed his immortal soul on the altar of public opinion. It was in order to please the people that Pilate consented to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. For a fleeting moment of public pacification, Pilate was willing to forfeit his eternal soul and put to death the Son of God. Go figure!
The Bible teaches us that the “fear of man is a snare” (Proverbs 29:25). It enslaves us to public opinion and imprisons us behind the bars of other people’s expectations. Not only will it keep us from ever being our own person, but it will also keep us from ever coming to Christ. How can we confess Jesus Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9-10), when the fear of what others are thinking of us or saying about us is always lording it over us?
Pilate’s capitulation to the people is what sent Christ off to Calvary—a place outside the city of Jerusalem where the most notorious criminals were executed. As the Book of Hebrews teaches, the only way to get to Christ is to be willing to “go to Him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore” (Hebrews 13:12-13 NIV). Anyone worried about their worldly reputation will never come to Christ, who “made himself of no reputation” (Philippians 2:7).
The fear of man will never allow anyone ensnared by it to venture one inch outside “the city gate.” On the other hand, all who come to Christ will certainly share His reproach. They will be thought of, spoken of and treated just as Christ was in this world (John 15:18-21). When they are, they can count their mistreatment by the world as a sure sign that they are no longer of the world.
“If ever I become so one with the world, so tolerant of its spirit and atmosphere that I reprove it no more, incur not its hatred, rouse not its enmity to Christ—if the world can find no cause to hate me and cast me from its company, then I have betrayed Christ and crucified Him afresh in the house of His friends. On intimate terms with this world that nailed Him to the tree? Perish the thought!” (L. E. Maxwell)