Just a short thought on Jesus and “the crowd”. And that is this – Jesus was almost always against the crowd. As Soren Kierkegaard says, “The crowd is untruth.” Kierkegaard goes on to tell us, “The crowd is indeed untruth. Christ was crucified because he would have nothing to do with the crowd.” When the crowd shouted their Hosannas and brought the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday, Jesus wept because he knew their violent ways would eventually lead to their destruction – “As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” 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 19:37-44 ESV. And of course within the week some in that same crowd would a part of a different crowd, the crowd shouting for the release of the violent revolutionary Barrabas while calling for Christ to be crucified.
Look at the this scene right after the feeding of the 5000. “So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” 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 6:13-15 ESV. This crowd had seen enough, they knew that He was indeed Messiah by the miracle they had just witnessed and experienced. They were ready to take on all comers and make Him their King – by force. But Jesus would have none of this, He had already dealt with this temptation out in the wilderness before He started His ministry. He would be crowned king, but he would not take His crown through violence. He would not take His crown by killing. He would take His crown by being killed.
The crowd feels good. The crowd feels right. The crowd can bring together those who had always been on opposite sides of all the battles if only it can find that scapegoat, the one it can send all of its anger and rage into. Just as the crowd did with Jesus at Golgotha, and Pilate and Herod became friends after being lifelong enemies, because they had come together to put that rage into the great scapegoat, Jesus of Nazareth. “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 23:11-12 ESV.
Putting all their anger and rage, all their sins, into Jesus was a cathartic experience for Herod, Pilate, and the crowd. It felt right to them. It brought them together. They thought that in killing Jesus, they were doing God’s work. “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 11:14 ESV. Imagine that…in committing the crime of deicide, the murder of God, they thought themselves doing God’s work.
Because…”The crowd is untruth.”
“So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” 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 6:13-15 ESV