But Pontius Pilate was a politician – and the politician knows nothing about justice or injustice, right or wrong; he always thinks in terms of power. Everything is decided to help him to be in power. He was afraid that if he refused to crucify this young, harmless, innocent person, his political career would be jeopardized. All the Jews would appeal to the Roman emperor that this man should be removed from Judea. His whole career, respect, power, richness – in Judea he was almost the king – were at risk. But still he tried his best; he talked with Jesus and he became even more convinced that Jesus was innocent.
There was only one hope – because there were two other criminals to be crucified with Jesus Christ: he would ask the crowd, “Whom do you want to be forgiven?” And he hoped that for their own son, utterly innocent, they would come to their senses and would ask that his life should be saved. And in comparison to him the other two were as great criminals as there could be. One had committed three murders, a few rapes; the other had committed seven murders, was a drunkard, was a nuisance. He had been in the jail almost his whole life. He would come out and within two or three days he was bound to do something and he would be back again – jail was his home.
His name was Barabbas; and when Pontius Pilate asked the crowd, “Whom do you want to be released on this religious festival, your festival, your national festival?” – with one voice, the crowd shouted, “Barabbas, we want Barabbas back.”
Even Barabbas could not believe it. Looking at this young man…he had heard about him that he was absolutely innocent. Even he felt ashamed and guilty that he was being saved. And these idiots who were shouting his name – he had harassed them his whole life! But Barabbas was saved and Pontius Pilate, just out of frustration, went inside and washed his hands.
His washing of the hands had remained without any commentary until Sigmund Freud, almost two thousand years later. Why did he wash his hands? Sigmund Freud, who was always looking deeper into symbols, said that whenever people feel that they have done whatever they could do, then they wash their hands of it completely; they are no more a part of it. He was not responsible for the crucifixion of an innocent and harmless person. But why was the crowd so against Jesus and not against Barabbas? – because after his release, just the third day, Barabbas murdered again and was back in jail.
The psychology of the crowd has to be understood. You are asking, “Why is it that so many people abandon their intelligence, their sensitivity, their responsibility and their individuality, when they become part of a group?”
When you become part of a group, a crowd, a mass, a collectivity, you surrender yourself; you say, “Now the group exists, I am no more.” As an individual, you have committed suicide. Now you will think the way the group thinks, you will live the way the group lives. You will be obedient, subservient, a perfect slave, because the more you are a perfect slave the more respect you will gain from the crowd, from the group, from the collectivity you have become a part of. The collectivity honors those who sacrifice themselves.
Yes, your ego will be fulfilled it is to fulfill your ego that you sacrifice everything – your intelligence, your sensitivity, your responsibility, your individuality – and just become a mechanical part which cannot say no to anything.