35 times in his gospel Mark refers to the crowds that gathered around Jesus. Wherever Jesus was there was always a crowd swarming him. Why were they there? Most likely there were mixed motives in the crowds. Read these passages and list what the motivation seems to be for their following of Jesus.
Mark 11:8-10, 18
Did you notice what happened? Up through chapter 11 the crowds were enamored with Jesus. They loved His teaching, they loved the fact that He would heal the sick; they loved getting free bread and fish. They became star struck and convinced that this was the Messiah who would ride into Jerusalem and take over the joint. Then what happens? The very crowd that was one day shouting out “Hosanna” was, just a few days later, crying out “crucify Him!”
Crowds are fickle. One day you are the hero, the next day you are the goat. Crowds are motivated by what they can get out of something or someone. Jesus knew this about the crowds. Notice how He spent a great deal of time trying to get away from the crowds. When He fed the 5000, He was trying to get away from people so that He could mourn over the death of John the Baptist, but when He saw the crowds He had compassion on them and said they were like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus knew the crowds were selfish and fickle, and that is why He said, “boo!” to them in Mark 8:34-38. He told them that they had to pick up their cross if they wanted to follow Him. From this point on Jesus’ teaching turned intense and the crowd started to turn on Him.
So, what’s the point? There are two lessons in this; one for leaders, one for followers. For the leader: Don’t listen to the voice of the crowd to determine what your actions should be. It is the sirens’ song to listen to the praises of the crowds. They will tell you that you are wonderful…as long as you are doing what they want. As soon as you make a tough decision that ruffles feathers, the honeymoon is over. That’s just how it is. As a leader you need to listen to one voice only; the Holy Spirit’s. He will guide you. Stay true to what God wants you to do, and let the crowd follow or not.
If you are a follower: be sure to not get caught up in the undertow of popular opinion. It is easy to look around and see everyone else doing something that you know to be wrong and rationalize it. Don’t. The crowd will sweep you away into idolatry. Pull away from the crowd from time to time and ask God what He wants from you.