That loud crowd

Read: Leviticus 15-17, Matthew 27:1-31

A crowd is contagious. At the moment, much of the world is currently wrapped up in the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Once every four years, I watch winter sports. In the past few days, I have been wrapped up in snowboarding hearing terms like chicken salad, 1440, goofy-footed, McTwist, amplitude, and pretzels. I can talk about the sport like I actually know something about it—which I don’t. But I’m part of the crowd, cheering on anyone wearing a maple leaf whether I’ve heard of them or not. I have jumped on the Olympic bandwagon just like I do every other year.

A couple of thousand years ago, there was another crowd of bandwagoners. Whether they shared the opinion or not, a group of people gathered to shout and, eventually condemn an innocent man to death.

“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked.

They all answered, “Crucify him!”

“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

Matthew 27:22-23 (NIV)

I don’t know if the crowd just happened to be there, or if they awaited the annual customary release of a prisoner, or if they’d been paid to be there by members of the Sanhedrin. But they were there. They were loud. And none of them could answer Pilate’s question—at least not loud enough to be heard. They shouted for the sake of making noise and, because they were so loud, anyone who could have been able to speak against them was either drowned out or too afraid to speak out.

Still today, there are a lot of people out there making noise for no other reason than to make noise. They like the sound someone is making, so they join in the cacophony. If asked why they make noise, they just get louder.

When Jesus was brought before Pilate, where were all the people who had welcomed him into the city just days before? Where were all the people who had been healed and set free? Jesus was not to ineffective in his ministry that there would not have been enough people to speak up for him.

But Jesus was passive. He was quiet. We should emulate him.

Yes, we should be like Jesus. As much as possible, we should strive to be just like him. But this moment, during and after his arrest, was the only time when Jesus was quiet. He knew what he had to do and he had resigned himself to it without putting up a fight. At no other point in his ministry did Jesus ever sit down and keep to himself in the face of lies.

If you know the truth that could set someone free, why not shout it out? Even if the crowd is loud, we should be louder because we know why we shout. The Book that we hold in our hands is not mere platitudes, but it is life. If you would only step out of the shadows and speak up, perhaps another person would find the courage to do the same. And then another. And another. And soon, the crowd proclaiming the truth will be louder than the crowd making noise.

Church, we should never, ever let that loud crowd shame or bully us into keeping quiet.

All of my life in ev’ry season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

Brooke Ligertwood, Desert Song

Take note. Take courage.

Many have tried, but no one has been able to accurately predict Jesus’ return. A quick internet search will return with lists of dates that have been predicted by the insane, the well-respected, and everyone in between. They all have one thing in common though—they were all wrong.

Take note: I will come unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me, who keep their robes ready so they will not need to walk naked and ashamed.

Revelation 16:15 (NLT)

No one wants to get caught with their pants down. Preparedness is key if we want to save ourselves much embarrassment and ridicule.

According to the Mishna (Jewish oral traditions), the captain of the temple in Jerusalem went his round of the precincts by night, and if a member of the temple police was caught asleep at his post, his clothes were taken off and burned, and he was sent away naked in disgrace.

International Bible Commentary

All through the Bible, believers are told to keep watch, be prepared, stay alert. Yet here, at the very end of the book, Jesus is still telling us to pay attention.

It’s difficult to wait when you don’t know how long the wait will be. Most of us have spent time in a waiting room. Whether it be at a doctor’s office, the department of motor vehicles, the lawyer, the financial advisor, or any other assortment of places where we may required to wait. Usually, we have an estimate of how long our wait will be, but as that time stretches, we become impatient and restless. Most of us have even entertained thoughts of giving up all together. But what’s the point in that? We’ve already spent all that time waiting, why not make it productive?

Take courage, all you people still left in the land, says the Lord. Take courage and work, for I am with you, says the Lord. My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt, so do not be afraid.

Haggai 2:4b-5 (NLT)

God, through the prophet Haggai, got the remaining Israelites to rebuild the Temple. Their focus had long been on getting the things they needed to survive, but they were barely getting by. It wasn’t until that remnant began to work together with the common purpose of preparing a place for the Lord that their natural harvest suddenly increased.

What are you doing with your wait? We have no guarantee that Jesus will return in our lifetime. Are we just going to be grateful that we have our ticket to Heaven and leave it at that? Or are we going to get to work? Are we going to be content with barely getting by and risk being caught off guard? Or are we going to work together to prepare the bride, the Church that Jesus is returning for?

Daily Bible reading: Haggai 1-2, Revelation 16