During the recent hot weather some people have been flocking to crowded beaches. Sadly, in the current situation, this is not without risk. They themselves can be in danger, or they can expose other people to danger.
Crowds are often not good places to be. In a crowd we can do things that we would not do when alone. It is easy to get drawn along by the mood and emotion generated by large numbers of people. This can give us a sense of courage, and engender strong feelings about things which have previously been of little interest to us.
Ironically, the majority is not always right. Mark Twain said:
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect”
Years ago, a crowd of Jews cried out for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ: the worst crime in history. They had been incited by the religious authorities, and we wonder how many would have planned this, or indeed done it, on their own.
…the chief priests stirred up the crowd, so that [Pilate] should rather release Barabbas to them. Pilate answered and said to them again, “What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” So they cried out again, “Crucify him!”Mark 15:11-13
In fact, such behaviour was against their law:
You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justiceExodus 23:2
Not long before this, the crowds had gathered to see Jesus. They loved his miracles and signs. But few took notice of his preaching, because the miracles failed to persuade them of who he was.
But although he had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in himJohn 12:37
Thousands of years before this, the Hebrews in the wilderness faced disaster for following the majority. They were near the end of their journey to Israel from Egypt, and Moses sent out twelve spies to look at the land. Ten came back with a pessimistic report which the people believed, not trusting in God. As a consequence they had to stay in the wilderness for a further 40 years until those who had disbelieved died.
So no wonder that Jesus gave a stark warning about following the majority.
Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by itMatthew 7:13
Following Jesus can lead us to eternal life:
Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find itMatthew 7:1
So we do well to be brave and sometimes not to follow the crowds.