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Monday, March 29, 2021

Lebanon County pond (Click to enlarge)
We often pass this country pond on Mount Wilson Road in Lebanon County.
(Click to enlarge)

"The Peril Of The Crowd"

Message summary: Standing up against the crowd can have severe consequences. I’m convinced, as our culture continues to slide into unrestrained decadence, that the faithful, godly remnant will have to stand up against the crowd and will likely pay a high price. That's already happening.

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"The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, crying out, 'Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!'" (John 12:12,13). "What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them. 'Crucify Him!' they shouted. 'Why? What crime has He committed?' asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, 'Crucify Him!' Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed Him over to be crucified" (Mark 15:12-15). "Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd" (Exodus 23:2).

Triumphal entryYesterday was Palm Sunday, a day when we especially remember our Lord's Triumphal Entry. It begins Holy Week culminating in the suffering, death, burial and glorious resurrection of Jesus.

There were two large crowds that gathered that week both responding to Jesus: One rejoicing and "crying out, 'Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!'" The other angrily shouted, "Crucify Him"

Sometimes crowds are a blessing. Generally I am a smaller gathering type of person and avoid crowded places but can still on rare occasions enjoy the dynamics of a large crowd such as at a Christian rally or concert or even walking through a crowded city like New York City (as it was when I last visited). The last really large gathering we attended was last September when we went down to Washington for a Prayer March. What a great occasion to be amongst the crowd!

And what great joy it must have been for those in the crowd at the "Triumphal Entry"! Can you just imagine being there!

But with every crowd there is a potential peril; the thrill of the many may cause us to get caught up into something wrong or dangerous.

Years ago in the church we served in New England we had a poster on the wall of a Sunday School classroom that’s often attributed to Albert Einstein: "What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right". That quote is a good thought-provoking message especially for teenagers, but really it’s true for people in all seasons of their lives. However as morals continue to erode and people move farther and farther from God’s standards it may be more accurate to state, "What is right is not usually popular and what is popular is not usually right."

People have always felt the tug to walk the road more traveled where they simply go along with the crowd. With teens we refer to it as peer pressure, yet peer pressure can affect more than just teens.

In the Law Moses warned the people against following the crowd in doing wrong.
"Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd" (Exodus 23:2). There’s a powerful incitement to lose the sense of right and wrong and side with the crowd. But God warns us through Moses, "Do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd".

Crowds almost always have crowd pleasers that can stir them up. We see that dynamic a lot today in entertainers and politicians but it’s nothing new. The ultimate expression of a crowd pleaser was visible at the trial of Jesus.
Pilate was both a crowd pleaser and the quintessential politician. He had neither courage nor conviction. On this particular day the crowd had made their wishes well known, as they "shouted all the louder, 'Crucify Him!'" Notice the phrase "wanting to please the crowd" in our daily text.

The late Warren Wiersbe, who is among our lifetime favorite Bible teachers, comments: “Pilate knew what was right, but refused to do anything about it. Judas yielded to the devil in his great sin; Peter yielded to the flesh when he denied his Lord; but Pilate yielded to the world and listened to the crowd. Pilate looked for the easy way, not the right way.

Pilate had the opportunity to do the right thing and a careful reading of the Gospel text indicates that he intuitively knew what the right thing was. He was deeply troubled within and though his wife expressed spiritual sensitivity and sensibility he refused to listen to her. When he faced the pressure of the crowd who cried out “Crucify Him” the deadly blend of his cowardice leadership and lack of personal conviction became his defining moment in history.
In the Apostle’s Creed the oft-recited line states Jesus "suffered under Pontius Pilate". What a way to have your name recorded in the history books!

We continue to face this tension in so many situations. We all battle with "the crowd" mentality whether we are literally in a large group of people or in our own homes exposed to the "internet mob". We have a strong compulsion to just go along to get along with others. Standing up against the crowd can have severe consequences. I’m convinced, as our culture continues to slide into unrestrained decadence, that the faithful, godly remnant will have to stand up against the crowd and will likely pay a high price. That's already happening.

Are there not some characteristics of Pilate in each of us? May our ears not be tuned to the reckless leanings and deviate behavior of the world. Instead let our ears be tuned to the bold message of God’s Word that teaches us to stand by our convictions, whether or not it pleases the crowd and regardless of the consequences. We’re called to do that today and everyday!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father God, I’m often tempted to add my voice to the crowd or simply blend in with the majority opinion. But because I choose to follow You I want to hear Your voice rather than the conflicting voices of others; I want to yield to the guidance of Your Holy Spirit rather than the prevailing philosophy of our day. I choose to follow You and I want to do so no matter the cost. Make me strong enough, courageous enough, and prayerful enough that I will stand even if others fall. When it feels as though I am standing alone remind me that You and I are a majority. When I stand up for You I stand in victory no matter the temporal consequences. It would seem that Jesus stood alone and was defeated in His physical death and hope diminished over the days following His crucifixion. But His triumph over death finally became evident when He rose from the dead. Remind us that today’s obedience brings tomorrow’s victory. In the precious name of Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Additional note: Many have speculated just how many of the same people who cried out “Hosanna in the highest!” at the Triumphal Entry were in another crowd days later demanding Jesus’ death with one condemning voice: “Away with this man!” I wonder how many in either gathering acted with deep convictions or were they just following the crowd?.

I read an interesting insight on this matter in an article by the late Stanley Horton, one of my professors in Bible College. He observes: “Actually those who shouted ‘Hosanna’ were people who were coming into Jerusalem. The ones who shouted ‘Crucify Him’ were a Jerusalem group probably routed out of bed by the Sadducees and other enemies of Jesus. Most of those who shouted ‘Hosanna’ were like the two who met Jesus on the road as they went back to Emmaus. They said, “Jesus ‘was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him; but we had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel’” (Luke 24:19-21).

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)"  Video  Paul Baloche

"Blessings"  Video  Laura Story  Special prayer request from Brooksyne: A special song dedicated to our dear friend, Anna Ruth, and her family whose aunt died yesterday of a sudden heart attack. Ester and I visited with Aunt Liddy along with Anna Ruth and her children as we gathered to sing hymns and Christmas songs at her house. Would you pray for the two "children" who survive their mother along with their other siblings. I refer to two of them as "children" as does their family because they were completely dependent on their mother for the necessities of life though they are actually in their forties. Both are mentally handicapped so losing their very loving and attentive mother will be a great sorrow and struggle for these two who are unable to speak, dress, eat, rise from a bed and so forth without assistance. Please pray for the remainder of the siblings who will have many decisions to make right away even as they grieve the loss of their precious mother. I will say, even with tears in my eyes, I can never remember witnessing such love and devotion from an aged mother as I did while visiting them only a few months ago. Now Aunt Liddy will reunite with her husband in heaven along with their other special "child" who died last year.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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