A crowd followed Jesus wherever he went.
The Gospel books of the Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John) mentions the crowd in 40 different stories. In twitter language, it is worthy of trending. #jesuscrowd
We don’t know much about the crowd, other than their shared interest in following Jesus. Most of them are Jewish. The dominant status seems to be lower socio-economic. They are far from monolithic, though. Some are rich. Some hold positions of privilege. Some are even religious. Others are foreigners.
Jesus’ teaching piqued their interest. From a distance, they like what he is saying. It sounds like the beginning of the revolution they’ve been waiting for. More than his words, many more are interested in his miracles. Stories of healing spread quickly throughout their social networks. Jesus was a magnet for the desperate and hopeless.
Jesus is conscious of the crowd. He had no choice. He fed them in the desert. Twice. He positioned himself at a high point so they could hear his teaching. When one from the crowd touched his cloak, he stopped to heal her. When they followed him around the sea, he taught them from the boat. If you ask me, Jesus is more than generous to the crowd.
The Bible’s never really clear about the crowd’s opinion of Jesus. It’s obvious they uphold some form of belief in him, or they wouldn’t follow him everywhere. You have to wonder if the majority aren’t selfishly seeking a miracle. At the gospels’ story end, the crowd is pressed for an opinion.
The verdict. Crucify him. Crucify him. Crucify him, they chanted.
Crowds are forming in response to the Ferguson decision. The media chooses to focus on the violent crowd. It’s not the only crowd. The largest crowd is the dominant group in our nation: white-privileged Americans. They are gathering on blog posts, on twitter, on Facebook, in comment sections of all forms of social media, at the cooler in your office, on televised news, at your dinner table, and even in our churches.
I believe the Gospel story warns us to be leery of the crowd. Like Jesus and his disciples, separate yourself from the crowd. Find a place of solitude where God’s voice can be heard. Ask for God’s will, not your own or public opinion.
The crowd most white Christians will be tempted to follow is one that leads you away from Jesus. This crowd isn’t compassionate or humble or penitent or reconciling or self-sacrificing or justice-seeking. It is a crowd whose shouts crucify again the way of Jesus.
As Christians who must respond to the Ferguson decision, you should be leery of the crowd. When pressed, they will turn their back on Jesus.