In the movie Men In Black, Edwards (Will Smith), in a scene before he has become agent Jay, says to agent Kay (Tommy Lee Jones):
“Why the big secret? People are smart, they can handle it.”
Kay’s reply is:
“A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.”
This moment in the movie made me wonder if this insight into human nature had been known almost two thousand, by the Chief Priest Caiphas as he plotted to get rid of Jesus.
It was a custom at the Jewish Passover Festival in Jesus’ era, to release a prisoner (Matthew 27: 15-17). At the time of the festival, both Jesus and the murderer Barabbas were in the custody of Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor of Jerusalem, Barabbas already convicted of murder but Jesus on trumped-up charges. When Pilate gave the crowd the choice to release Jesus, or the murderer Barabbas, they chose Barabbas, the murderee.
We will never know for sure but it is possible, even likely that when the time came to choose the prisoner to release, Caiaphas had men planted in the waiting crowd in an attempt to influence the outcome of which prisoner would be released. With such an insight into human nature, although the outcome couldn’t be certain, it would have given Caiphas an edge to have influenced the crowd’s choice (Matthew 27: 20-21).
It might be that Caiaphas didn’t even need to manipulate the crowd by lying about Jesus. He could probably accomplish the same end by simply telling the truth or at least part of the truth, a truth that would make people fearful, the simple truth that with Jesus, everything would change; people are afraid of change.
Agent Kay went on to say:
“Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat”
And with both those discoveries people were afraid of what it would mean. They tried to deny it, ignore it or pretend it wasn’t so. They were afraid of change. Often it doesn’t matter if people are afraid of change for good or bad, it is simply the change they are afraid of.
Kay’s final words in the scene, as true now as when the film w made and in Jesus’ time:
“Imagine what you will know, tomorrow.”