The reading deals with the "trial" of Jesus before Pilate and Herod. Pilot makes it crystal clear that Jesus is innocent of the charges being made against him.
- "I find no basis for a charge against this man" (v.4),
- "I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him...he has done nothing to deserve death" (vv.14-15),
- "For the third time he spoke to them: 'Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty" (v.22).
Why? Why did people hate Jesus so much?
For the religious leaders, the answer is because they saw Jesus as a grave threat to their religious institution, to their leadership, and to their way of living. Jesus challenged the status-quo, and challenged their institutional loyalty. Jesus was more concerned with what God might want than the preservation of a religious organization.
As great as Judaism was - after all, prior to Judaism, people had no clue what the gods wanted or what the gods would find pleasing. Prior to Judaism, it was a total guess game as to what might please the gods. But Judaism was the first religion where people no longer had to guess because God spoke to His people and made it clear how one could please God. That's pretty awesome - and as great as Judaism was, there came a time when its institutional and religious practices ran the course of its effectiveness.
And as great as some of our main-line denominations have been in recent history, it is not the end all if some of our denominations come and go, and if our denominations go through a massive transformation.
What is a travesty is when we get so stuck to our institutional ways that we fail to see the new things God is doing.
When we're asking why the crowds were so hateful toward Jesus - particularly after the incredible reception on Palm Sunday, that's a more difficult question to answer.
How could the crowds at one moment sing His praises, and then within a week cry out for His blood?
I guess, it's not uncommon even today. We sing the praises of an athlete, politician, or an entertainer, and within the same week they can be in our black list because of something they do or say.
Crowds are fickle. Crowds can never be the sole criteria for what is right and wrong. The crowds in Nazi Germany allowed Hitler to go after the communists without a protest. They allowed the Nazis to go after the Jews without protest. They allowed the Nazis to go after the protestants without protest. Then they allowed the Nazis to go after the Catholics without protest. And toward the end, there was no one left to protest.
Crowds do not determine right and wrong. Only God can, and only the Bible can show us right and wrong.