Traveling through Johannesburg, South Africa, my daughter recently, we saw an eye-catching sign. It was humorous, but startling. The sign read: Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers. After a chuckle, the sobering reality of that statement began to sink in.
A plethora of examples could address the theme of ‘crowds’. Both secular and sacred writers often speak to the influence of the crowd. For brevities sake, I will focus on a few Biblical passages that reference crowds. First, Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14: ”Enter in by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” It always seems easier to go along with the crowd than to take an unpopular position. Exodus 23:2 (NKJ) declares, “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil… ” In order to fit in, people are often willing to compromise their moral values. 1 Corinthians 15:33 (ESV) warns, “Do not be deceived; bad company ruins morals”. Wise advice may also be found in Proverbs 24:1 (The Message): “Don’t envy bad people; don’t even want to be around them”. Scripture makes it clear that following the crowd is not a good idea. It usually leads to trouble.
Secondly, Matthew provides the account of Jesus on trial before Pilate (Matthew 27:15-25). The passage dramatically illustrates the power of the crowd. “But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus (v.20). Pilate said to them, ’What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ? (v.22) They all said to him, “Let him be crucified! (v.23) Then the governor said, ‘Why, what evil has he done? But they cried out all the more, saying, ‘Let him be crucified! (v.23) And all the people answered and said, ‘His blood be on us and on our children (v.25).” It was not long afterwards, however, before the very people who shouted for His blood became angry when their participation in Jesus’ death was pointed out to them. The scripture says, “they were filled with indignation” (Acts 5:17-28). They tried to deny the truth and hide from reality of what they had done.
One could build a case from the historical record that for two thousand years trouble and tragedy have befallen the descendants of that group. Through the years, starting with Rome’s destruction of Jerusalem and other murderous moves against the Jews, to the Holocaust, and to present day chaos and conflict in Israel, tragedy and heartache have plagued the Jewish people.
Momentarily, a person may find anonymity and security in the crowd, but in the end each one will stand alone before God at Judgment. Following the crowd will be no excuse. I will be judged individually according to the works I have done.
“Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” (Romans 14:19, KJV)
~ Brother Roy