Summary: A sermon about Peer Pressure and following Christ.

Mark 15:1-15

"24 Hours that Changed the World: Jesus, Barabbas, and Pilate"

Have you ever thought you had something in common with birds and termites?

Well, market research experts argue that we do have something in common with birds and termites.

Because, without even knowing it, we're often controlled by peer pressure.

For instance, researchers note how many bird species "rise from a field in complete sychnocricity as though they are doing a choreographed dance."

Scientists say that the birds are "acting as if they shared one collective brain."

And termites also act like they all just have one enormous brain.

"In other words," researchers argue, "only by observing and mimicking the behavior of its neighbors can a termite figure out what it should be doing."

Researchers observe that we human beings act in much the same way.

Just like those birds and termites, we, too, have a collective consciousness in that we size up what those around us are doing and modify our actions and behaviors accordingly.

"There is ample research to show that we instinctively look to the behaviors of others to inform the decisions we make--everything from which way we should walk, to what music we should listen to, to which kind of car we should drive.

It seems, in short, that we instinctively believe that others know more about what we want than we do ourselves."

Psychologists have a name for this phenomenon.

It's called peer pressure...and peer pressure can be terribly damaging.

It has powers that we can hardly even imagine...

...just look at some of the atrocities committed by groups of humans throughout history; and things we have done due to peer pressure in our own lives.

In the Bible, Pilate had the inclination and the authority to set Jesus free.

After all his hesitation, after all his resistance to the idea of crucifying Jesus, though, we come to one of the saddest lines in Scripture.

In Mark 15:15 it says, "Pilate wanted to satisfy the crowd, so he released Barabbas to them.

He had Jesus whipped, then handed him over to be crucified."

Pilate "wanted to satisfy the crowd."

Pilate knew it was wrong.

He had the power to stop it.

But the pull of the crowd was too intense.

Pilate sent Jesus to the Cross to satisfy the clamor of the fickle and unruly mob in front of him.

Think about it.

Can you see yourself in Pontius Pilate?

From the time we were small we have been dealing with peer pressure or the pull of the crowd.

From the clothes we wear to the way we wear our hair--we are caving into peer pressure.

When I was a kid, in elementary school, all the children wore a brand of jeans called "Tough Skins."

Anybody remember those?

They were the Sears brand.

And that was the only place you could get them.

By the time I moved on to middle school everyone who was anyone wore Levis.

Sure there were other brands--Lee, Wrangler, to name a few...

...but Levis was the only brand you could wear without being "made fun of."

And, of course, Levis were more expensive than the other brands.

And as far as sneakers were concerned, they had better have had that authentic Nike "swoosh" on the side.

And what about the "popularity" contests that take place in middle schools and high schools all across the country?

It's all about peer pressure, is it not?

Bullying finds its roots in peer pressure.

And how many young kids try alcohol, cigarettes, drugs and sex for the first time for no other reason than--peer pressure?

And these are actions that can, and often do follow and haunt us long into adulthood.

Of course, kids, are not the only ones susceptible to peer pressure--not by a long shot!!!

As adults, we feel peer pressure in lots of ways.

We feel compelled to "keep up" with the Jones' and so we worry ourselves sick as we try and climb the career ladder.

We go into debt as we make it our life's ambition to have a big enough home, and luxurious car, and toys like boats, lake houses--you name it.

And so much of this is because of our desire for acceptance and our fear of ridicule and rejection.

Oftentimes, our inability to think for ourselves leaves us silent when we should speak, and leaves us doing or supporting things we know are wrong.

What happens when you are faced with doing something you believe is right but which will cause a large number of people to be upset with you, maybe even turn against you?

Peer pressure can entice us to betray God, even to lose our souls--if our primary objective is to satisfy the crowd.

As a matter of fact, if our primary objective is to satisfy the crowd--the crowd has become our god--our idol that we worship.

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