The Danger of Crowds

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 justice

Exodus 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 him

John 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 it

Matthew 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 it

Matthew 7:1

So we do well to be brave and sometimes not to follow the crowds.

Image by Pierre-Laurent Durantin from Pixabay


“one man’s trash…”

Nowadays people are leaving unwanted possessions outside, inviting passers-by to help themselves.

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. How true! People find valuable articles for next to nothing in car boot sales; we value trinkets which have little monetary value but huge emotional significance; and we bid ‘over the odds’ for things we really want.

What is important to us? The answer shapes our lives both now and for ever.

Jesus said:
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”

Luke 12:34

Prior to this he had warned about setting too much store by material things and possessions. He told the parable of a rich man who concentrated his efforts on building barns and filling them, so that he could give up work and enjoy himself. But this man died before he could benefit from his efforts. Jesus calls him a ‘fool’ (Luke 12:13-20), and adds:

“So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God”

Luke 12:21

Not everyone believed Jesus then, and not everyone is interested now.

The message of the early Christians was met with scepticism and opposition. Paul wrote these words to people in the prosperous Greek city of Corinth:

“For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men”

1 Corinthians 1:22-25

So to some the gospel is of little value, and to others it is silly or foolish. But it is the message from God about how we can be saved eternally by being a follower of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said that the gospel (the kingdom of heaven) is worth more than anything else we can have.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasurehidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field”

Matthew 13:44

So what is our treasure?

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay


Across the country homes are displaying pictures of rainbows, usually but not always drawn by children. These are generally accompanied by messages. These messages warn us to stay at home in order to keep ourselves and others safe, offer us hope for a way forward, and give special thanks to keyworkers – notably the heroes in the NHS. These colourful displays are a joyful sight.

The Bible tells about the first rainbow after the cataclysmic flood of Noah’s time.  Noah and his family were isolated in the ark for a full year. In this way they were saved and avoided the mass destruction in the world. After the flood was over God put the rainbow in the sky as a sign that:

 “never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth”

Genesis 9:8-17; verse 11

The flood was a disaster for everyone except Noah’s family. He had tried to warn them of impending doom, but they ignored him and just carried on as normal (2 Peter 2:5, Matthew 24:37-39).

Jesus told us that he would come back to the earth, but he warned that people would not be ready for him. He would come like a thief.

….if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Matthew 24:43-44

In fact he compared this with the days of Noah:

“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be”

Matthew 24:37

People would be taken by surprise, absorbed by their daily lives of eating, drinking and family business.

We had warnings about the Coronavirus. Despite this, few of us were adequately prepared either physically or emotionally for the way things have happened. We were largely taken by surprise. We hate to see the suffering and death. And we are immensely grateful to those trying to save lives, risking their own lives in the process.

Two thousand years ago Jesus died a cruel death specifically so that we could be saved and offered everlasting life. An amazing hope for the future! Are we truly grateful for this? He asks us to believe, to watch and to prepare for his return.

“Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is”

Mark 13:33

They were not ready in Noah’s day. We were not ready for the virus. Let us try to make sure that we are ready for Jesus.

Image by cm_dasilva from Pixabay