Part of the Crowd

scapegoat
Did you know that scapegoating is in the bible? It comes from deep in the Old Testament, all the way back to Moses. The scapegoat was to be used on the day of atonement as a way to cleanse the people of their sins. And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness. All the sins, all the iniquities, all the the transgressions of the people (the crowd) were put on the head of a goat, and the goat was sent far, far away into the wilderness, carrying all those sins along with it. If it happened to escape into that wilderness right over a cliff, guaranteeing it would never come back with all those sins, then that was all the better. Because the worst possible thing would be for that escaped goat to return, bringing all those sins back with it.

angrymob
We’ve been scapegoating ever since the foundation of the world. Whenever a crowd (mob) is coalesced around a hot button issue or problem, it almost always identifies and attacks a scapegoat. The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once said “The crowd is untruth.” Meaning that once in a crowd, responsibility is either completely erased or greatly reduced. We who would have to put our own two hands on a situation, and be held responsible for what we do and say, are now dissolved into the crowd. Now we are not responsible for any of our own actions, “the crowd” did it, right? We dissolve ourselves in cowardliness into the crowd, which itself is cowardliness. We see the same thing with social media today, people hide behind avatars saying and doing things they would never say if they could be held accountable.
Kierkegaard goes on to say that “Therefore was Christ crucified, because, although He addressed himself to all, He would have no  “dealings with the crowd, because He would not permit the crowd to aid him in any way, because in this regard He repelled people absolutely, would not found a party, did not permit balloting, but would be what He is, the Truth, which relates itself to the individual…it is not so great a trick to win the crowd. All that is needed is some talent, a certain dose of falsehood, and a little acquaintance with human passions…” Christ was crucified in part because He would have no dealings with the crowd. We see this many different places. The feast of tabernacles. After the feeding of the 5000, when the crowd wanted to make Him King – Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. At His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, when the crowds were cheering Him, shouting “Hosanna in the highest“, Jesus wept. And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Jesus fed the crowds. He taught the crowds. He healed the crowds. He loved the crowds. But He never joined the crowd.

Jesus teaching
All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world. Jesus spoke in parable because they both reveal and conceal at the same time. Some in the crowd would understand. Many in the crowd would not. May those with eyes to see and ears to hear understand, right?

Cain and abel
Jesus’ life and death shows the problem with the foundation of the world. The foundation of the world came in Genesis 1, but the foundation of our world, the way our societies are built, started with Cain vs Abel. Cain killed Abel, hid the body of his brother, lied to God about it (“Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?””Genesis‬ ‭4:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬), then went and started the first city. Civilization has been based on force and power ever since, built on the blood and buried bodies of innocent scapegoats for millennia. This is the foundation of the world referred to here.
The trouble with the crowd is that the crowd is almost always wrong. We see it right here in our own political system, the elephants vs the donkeys. Both sides doing their best to blame and scapegoat the other for all the problems of he world. And everybody’s wrong.
Jesus, the Lamb of God, became the ultimate, once and for all time scapegoat for us all. He was the scapegoat in Jerusalem for all the trouble that was brewing there, all the political unrest, all the anger and bitterness between competing groups of people. “The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.” Luke‬ ‭23:10-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The priests and scribes, Herod, and Pilate. All competing with each other, antagonizing each other, accusing each other. They all found their scapegoat in Jesus. It feels good sometimes to pick a scapegoat. It can be cathartic. Notice what it says here – And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other. Herod and Pilate put all their sins, all their anger, into the scapegoat they found, and two enemies became friends.
Jesus became the ultimate scapegoat for us, carrying away all of our sins with Him. We don’t have to live this same way anymore. He revealed to us in His life and death the problems in the foundation of the world. He re-founded the world system, not on the blood of scapegoated people or groups, not on the basis of being able to kill and destroy others, but on the basis of His own death, His own blood.

jesus
But – this scapegoat came back, didn’t He??!! He rose from the dead on the third day and came back, proving He was indeed the the Truth, the Son of God. But he didn’t come back seeking vengeance. He came back as He lived before dying – “Peace be with you.” He forgave us our sins. He reset the world, gave us a New World Order we still haven’t figured out.
Jesus never leads a crowd, just a little flock. Even if His little flock is 2 billion strong. We don’t fight for the kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God can not be fought for, can not be won. It can only be received. It’s a free gift, given to us by the blood of Jesus Christ, the last and only scapegoat we ever need.

jesus on the cross
We don’t play the blame game as Christians. Well…let’s just say we shouldn’t. Every time we do, it’s a failure of our Christianity, not of our Christ. We don’t need to play the blame game, we don’t ever need to scapegoat. We must never forget that when Jesus forgave us our sins…He forgave THEM too. Whoever it is we are trying to join the crowd against, we don’t need to. The blame has been settled, the sins forgiven. “”Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke‬ ‭12:32‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭19:41-44‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.”

‭‭John‬ ‭6:15‬ ‭ESV

“And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord and use it as a sin offering, but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel…”And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat. And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness.”

‭‭Leviticus‬ ‭16:9-10, 20-22‬ ‭ESV‬‬

 

“All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭13:34-35‬ ‭ESV‬‬

 

John Lewis

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