By John Hutchinson
Let’s face it — people control us. This was brilliantly illustrated in a former TV quiz show — ‘The Money or the Mob.’
Participants sometimes faced a critical decision — take the money and go — or risk it by trying to answer further questions. But, then mob persuasion kicked in and they played on — often losing all they’d won.
Secret ballots often get different results to the raising of hands in meetings. Is it because people are scared of what others think?
Someone I know was invited to address a political party and was then able to sit in on their business meeting. He couldn’t believe what he saw and heard. They were like reeds in the wind - blown all over the place by voter opinion.
Mobs, of course, are not necessarily bad in themselves. In fact, many good changes have been won when people have risen up and said, ‘NO’ to oppression and injustice.
On the other hand some have resisted the mob — and even risked their lives for the welfare of others.
The man or the mob
Someone who melted in the knees and gave in to the rage was Pontius Pilate. He washed his hands publicly and said, "I’m innocent of this man's blood."
But, can you wash your hands of responsibility? Pilate had pleaded the innocence of Jesus Christ and said, ‘I find no fault with him,’ and then caved in to the crowd.
The frenzied mob, shouted back, ‘Crucify him - crucify him!’
Crucify him they did. They got what they wanted — the crucifixion of Christ.
The crucifixion of Jesus is a stark reminder of how the pressure of negative opinion can weaken people to the point of aborting justice and decency.
The trial of Jesus shows us a man pathetically weak and another with incredible strength.
Jesus said He was the Messiah, the Son of God and nothing could shake Him.
Who, in their right mind, would let themselves be flogged and crucified for something they made up? At any point he could’ve said, ‘Look, you’ve got it wrong. I’m just an ordinary man - not the Son of God at all.’
Interestingly, the Roman Centurion guarding the place of execution observed and listened as Jesus hung with outstretched arms by nails to a cross and said, ‘Truly this man was ‘The Son of God.’
The strength of Jesus under pressure, and his torturous suffering and death followed by His resurrection has been a life changing inspiration to many.
Peter, the fisherman, who became a disciple, was often impulsive and cowardly. He even denied Jesus in the night of his arrest. After the crucifixion and the resurrection he was incredibly strong in championing the cause of Christ, having been indwelt by God the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
More than once he did time in prison for preaching about Jesus, and despite being flogged we read, “they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 5:42).
The apostle Paul, once the enemy of Christ, became His greatest advocate. He resisted many a raging mob, was whipped, beaten and imprisoned for his unshakeable conviction that Jesus had risen from the dead.
Through the years many have endured persecution, torture and death rather than deny the truest man who ever lived. In the twentieth century more Christians died for their faith in Christ than at all times before.
The Christian faith lives today because of those who defied ridicule and rage — ever inspiring us to stand firm in our convictions that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and Saviour of the world.