I have a new article up at NewEvangelizers.com.
We just celebrated Palm Sunday, where the people hailed Christ as King with loud “Hosannas.”
Five days later they cry out “Crucify Him!”
Often I am asked by my students how they could turn on Him so quickly. The answer is mob mentality.
Gustave Le Bon wrote extensively about how mobs of people can behave in ways that individuals do not. In these mobs, people lose their individuality and get swept up in the emotion of the group. Anyone who has been to an intense sporting event understands this feeling as the cheers, the boos, and the chorus of “We Will Rock You!” echoes through the stands. But that is only a small taste of how mob mentality works.
Mobs are fired up by emotion and then they act without thinking. Rational discourse and discussion are not how to communicate with a mob. Instead, leaders of mobs whip up the group into a frenzy and then turn them towards some action. You can see this when there are riots in the streets of our cities. Let’s say some great injustice occurs and a large group of protesters turn to rioting. Sometimes they will attack and destroy business and buildings that have nothing to do with the injustice they are protesting. If, while they are rioting, you try to reason with them, it will have no effect. That is because the emotion of the group has sublimated their rational thought. While this may sound a bit like brainwashing, it is a common occurrence for those who are caught up in the moment.
And the emotion of the mob is fickle. It can turn from love to hate quickly. Again, think about how quickly an Atlanta Falcons fan, for example, could go from “Falcons are awesome!” to “Falcons are awful!” in a few minutes during the Superbowl. Fans can have these turns on their own, but the shifts are more powerful and more volatile in the crowd.
When Jesus entered into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He allowed the people to hail him as King. This is something that he staunchly avoided throughout most of His ministry. When I was younger I always found this very curious, since Jesus is, in fact, the King. Why not have the people acclaim Him that way. But in John 6, after He multiplies the loaves and fish, He runs away when they want to make Him King. It wasn’t until years later that I think I finally understood why:
Jesus is not the leader of a mob.
You can read the entire article here.