Developing Your Crowd Consciousness
John 12:12-50 February 16, 1997
Scripture: Unison Reading, Pew Bible, page #1671, John 12:12-16 and page #1684, John 19:12-15.
Wherever he went, Jesus attracted crowds. They flocked to him for various reasons. He was a man of controversy. Not that God is controversial, but that mankind is controversial about the things of God. And so men came to see and marvel and wonder and decide about this man of God - Jesus. We have been seeing in the messages over the past few weeks about the various reactions people took toward Jesus and the things he said and did. This morning’s message continues in somewhat the same vein but with a different focus. We make individual choices about the things of truth but our choices are sometimes colored by the company we keep because we affect one another. But being part of a crowd does not excuse us from responsibility. Nor does being part of a church excuse us from accountability as individuals before Almighty God.
Alice Cary said, “Men and women in the crowd meet and mingle, yet within itself every soul stands single.”
And someone else once said, “Never follow the crowd if you want the crowd to follow you.”
Actually, the company we keep is also a choice. To be in good company, we must make good choices about our lives and relationships, even if it means standing alone for awhile. Whatever decision we make will eventually put us in the company of others who have made similar choices. It may very well be our proper choice that will influence the proper choice someone else will make to be a part of our crowd.
Submit to pressure from peers and you move down to their level.
Speak up for your own beliefs and you invite them up to your level.
If you move with the crowd, you'll get no further than the crowd.
When 40 million people believe in a dumb idea, it's still a dumb idea.
Simply swimming with the tide leaves you nowhere.
So if you believe in something that's good, honest and bright -- stand up for it. Maybe your peers will get smart and drift your way.
The decision we make and must keep is to be a part of the company of saints, the holy crowd of the great ‘cloud of witnesses’ as it says in Heb. 12:1-2, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” That is the Jesus we must follow.
Oswald Sanders has said, “The saints are always among the unofficial crowd, the crowd that is not noticed, and their one dominant note is Jesus Christ.”
-----the news media-----
Other than this unofficial crowd of believers that no one really wants to notice but which is very real and viable none the less, a crowd is generally not very good company. This morning’s message is about four different types of crowds that were attracted to Jesus in one way or another depending on who they thought he was. We shall see ----
I. The Fickle Crowd (who desired a king): to which the implied message of Jesus was, “Come unto me.” (vv. 12-16)
Zealots - palm branches
donkey message (gentle) acted out and implied
Are we only a part of the fickle crowd who plays well or cheers for Jesus only when it looks good or is to our preconceived advantage or gives us what we need at the time? Have we taken the message of the cross for a free ticket to salvation only to say that hard obedience isn’t necessary when required? Would you be willing to be a martyr for the faith? Are we like those who are tossed and blown about (Eph. 4:14)? Do we want a God who will serve us without the call to serve him? Are we willing to be like the donkey and let him ride us? If so, then we will get to where he is going, won’t we? We must come unto Jesus like the donkey who didn’t object that he wasn’t a war horse, but in fact would one day see him upon such a mighty steed. Faith is not always by first appearance. Come unto me, says Jesus, the reality of God, not the image you think God ought to be.
“Come unto me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Mt. 11:28). But they would remain restless who clamor after an earthly king.
II. The Faithful Crowd (who desired a savior): to which the message of Jesus was, “Come unto the life.” (vv. 17-33)
life equals witness
Pharisees - us vs. him
seed definition of life
faith determines hearing
Here is the formation of the great crowd of the holy crowd of witnesses that we must desire to be a part of. See how they are unafraid of proclaiming their faith. See how they seek him out with whole hearts. See how they seek him with deep and not just surface respect. And Jesus gives them seeds of truth that assures them of eternal life. But there is just one catch. We must die in order to be changed. And he would show us how through the serving of following his service for us. And that life would be glorious. Love for God leads to service leads to honor.
But did Jesus say it would be easy? In his humanity, he didn’t want to die either. But his faith in the Father took him through. And are you a part of the crowd who hears God speak of him? By ears of faith, unintelligible thunder was the voice of God to instruct the discerning to increase their faith. God said that the glory of Jesus had already been accomplished and would continue to be accomplished. And by faith, his glory will be accomplished in your life, by life or by death, but all for life and glory. We shall, in a spiritual sense, join him on the cross in defeat of Satan. He will draw all men to himself and we have the privilege of serving him in that attraction.
III. The Funeral Crowd (who desired a corpse): to which the message of Jesus was, “Come unto the light.” (vv. 34-41)
Jesus had now predicted his death and resurrection and another part of the crowd speaks up in unbelief. We know it was in unbelief because of John’s comments in vv. 37-41. Their Jesus was dead already because to them, he never lived. They have seen and heard and yet remained in darkness. They were those who heard the thunder rather than the voice of God. The storm was coming but they didn’t know enough to heed the warning sirens. Jesus pronounces the cure. They must come into the light before darkness of death overtakes them. He offers them a storm shelter for the last time. He has entered Jerusalem for only a week before he will be crucified. He speaks to them and urges them to seek truth in him while there is yet time. How often in life we have such brief windows of opportunity in which to act. We must make the right choice or suffer the consequences. They must decide whether to go with the crowd of skeptics or be skeptical of the crowd.
Jesus then hid himself from them because it was not yet time even though the time was so very close. He hid himself from them but, in fact, it was they who hid themselves from him by unbelief. Isaiah’s quote tells us that faith is in the heart. John’s comment on Isaiah’s quote amazes me. It tells me that Isaiah was really commenting on this event himself, that, “How could anyone see and hear the glory of Jesus and not believe? They must be blind and deaf and dead already.” They could have been healed.
IV. The Fearful Crowd (who desired a wimp): to which the message of Jesus was, “Come unto the Father.” (vv. 42-50)
Here we have enough people to form a crowd, but they are too fearful to come together to put their money where their mouth is. They would like to believe but not at the expense of expedience---if they only knew what expedience really was. If they would not confess their faith, can it be said that they were saved? Jesus said that if anyone would not confess him before men, he would not confess them before his Father in heaven (Mt. 10:33-34). They were men pleasers and not God pleasers. In short, they were wimps and they must surely have thought that God was a wimp if they expected to get by with such weakness.
What is Jesus’ answer to them? He tells them to come unto the Father because they will have to answer to him for what they did with Jesus. You see, God is no wimp. He is the righteous judge to whom we must answer. Jesus and the Father are the same God. Jesus came to reveal God. Rejecting God just won’t work. Jesus, as God, did not come to judge but to save by revealing God and the power of God to us. The ball is in our court. Either play ball or sit on the loser’s bench. Christianity is not for wimps. And Jesus is no wimp either. He was meek but not weak. Meekness is power under control. He might have come into Jerusalem on a donkey but he is returning on a war horse. The donkey might have thrown some people, but it, having never been ridden, did not throw Jesus. Don’t be fooled by appearances but be convicted by the heart. Jesus had the power of God over that donkey. Will you let him have the power of God over you?
The crowd is composed of individuals, but it must also be in the power of each one to be what he is: an individual; and no one, no one at all, no one whatsoever is prevented from being an individual unless he prevents himself—by becoming one of the masses.
Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813–1855)
It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinions. It is easy in solitude to live after our own. But the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)
Sometimes God thrusts us out of the crowd into a solitude we did not desire, but which nonetheless takes hold of us. . . . He wants us to ask the question of truth that may isolate us from most men, and that can be asked only in solitude. He wants us to ask the question of justice that may bring us suffering and death . . . He wants us to break through the ordinary ways of man that may bring disrepute and hatred upon us. . . . He wants us to penetrate to the boundaries of our being, where the mystery of life appears.
Paul Johannes Oskar Tillich (1886–1965)
The soul that has been enriched by communion with God will not be dismayed by isolation but will welcome solitude. He will seek not the crowd but the closet, and emerging will never walk alone, for he has unseen companionship.
Frances J. Roberts
God calls each of us in secret to make certain sacrifices which always involve a risk, even though it may differ from person to person. God speaks to the crowd, but his call comes to individuals, and through their personal obedience he acts. He does not promise them success, or even final victory in this life. The goal of the adventure to which he commits them is in heaven. God does not promise that he will protect them from trials, from material cares, from sickness, from physical or moral suffering. He promises only that he will be with them in all these trials, and that he will sustain them if they remain faithful to him.
Paul Tournier (1898–1986)
Be careful of what crowd you follow. Cast your lot and keep your lot with the Faithful crowd. Glory awaits. Don’t drift away. And if you have drifted away, don’t drift back. Run back. Get away from the crowd of the Fickle, the Funeral and the Fearful. Jesus is not wishy-washy, dead, nor afraid. Come into the life and the light and the knowledge of God in Jesus Christ. And stay there. Keep coming to church and gain strength from the company of the saints. Stay away from those influences that will have more influence on you than you can have on them. Serve God with gladness and joy all of your days. Set your goal on God, not on the crowd.
Illustrations from the world of insects:
The Spider and the Fly
Don’t follow the crowd, follow God in single minded devotion. Then, when two or three are gathered together due to your own witness, you can have your own growing crowd in the great cloud of witnesses that shall reign in victory when Jesus comes.
Timeless Truth: Choose sides carefully, for the crowd you run with may also run you. Being crowd conscious insures against crowding your consciousness.
Developing Your Crowd Consciousness
John 12:12-50 February 16, 1997
I. The F _ _ _ _ _ Crowd (who desired a king): to which the message of Jesus was, “Come unto _ _ .” (vv. 12-16)
II. The F _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Crowd (who desired a savior): to which the message of Jesus was, “Come unto the _ _ _ _ .” (vv. 17-33)
III. The F _ _ _ _ _ _ Crowd (who desired a corpse): to which the message of Jesus was, “Come unto the _ _ _ _ _ .” (vv. 34-41)
IV. The F _ _ _ _ _ _ Crowd (who desired a wimp): to which the message of Jesus was, “Come unto the _ _ _ _ _ _ .” (vv. 42-50)
Timeless Truth: Choose sides carefully, for the crowd you _ _ _ with may also _ _ _ you. Being crowd _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ insures against crowding your _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .