One characteristic of human nature is the capacity to be jealous, to envy others; many advertising tactics exploit this. The gospels repeatedly show that those in positions of authority were envious of the popularity Jesus enjoyed. In Mark 15 we see that it was easy for Pilate to “perceive that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered (Jesus) up” (verse 10). But Pilate was also a man of the world, so “wishing to satisfy the crowds … having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified” (verse 15). We need to put the four Gospels together to get a full picture of the process; they all illustrate the envious mood of the advocates raising their voices against Jesus.

Human elections these days are full of efforts to satisfy the majority, but they never remain satisfied for long. With what cynicism did those who had been envious of Christ call out and mock him on the cross, “saying, ‘He saved others, he cannot save himself. Let Christ the king of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe’” (verses 31,32).

How shocked they would have been if that had happened! How shocked the world will be when Christ does come down from heaven. Remember Mark 14; he told the High Priest, “you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (verse 62).

All envy will vanish at that time, to be replaced by awe for “the powers in the heavens will be shaken” (13:25) and “he will send out the angels to gather his elect” (verse 27) – all those whose character has been the very opposite of envy! Paul describes the character of the elect, “Love is patient and kind: love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant … rejoices with the truth … Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). It will never end in God’s kingdom, but we must practice it now in getting rid of all tendencies to envy.