38 Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God’s Son.’” 44 The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.
45 From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46 And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Have you ever succumbed to peer pressure, and then been ashamed that you did? Between my junior and senior year of high school, a group of girl friends and I rented a house in Beach Haven for a week. There was something about that week that caused me to give in to peer pressure and do something I never would have done at home. It was a harmless prank but it was still something illegal.
One of the two chaperones was my mother. She never spoke to me of the events of that week, although I’m sure she was surprised by some of our shenanigans. She would have been even more appalled at the things about which she wasn’t aware. When I think of Jesus on the cross in a public display of torturous punishment, we can only imagine how the peer pressure in the crowds encouraged others in saying and doing horrendous things. Scripture tells us just a fraction of what he endured and leaves a lot to our imagination. It’s no wonder Jesus felt like God had abandoned him.
By Kathleen Stolz
For Pondering & Prayer
Are there ways that you succumb to peer pressure even now as an adult? Do you join the chorus of critics of one party or the other? Does the desire for independence and wealth cloud your care for those who struggle with economic insecurity? Or have you found ways to think for yourself and avoid the stress that comes with information overload?
Prayer: Gentle Jesus, we ask for guidance in following your pathway, steering clear of the pressures of American society that surround us. Even when we feel alone in our choices, help us to stand firm in doing what you would have us do. Amen.