Posts Tagged ‘mob mentality’

Deuteronomy 17:2-13

Requirement for Several Witnesses

I remember watching the movie, “All the President’s Men”, in which Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman portrayed the real life reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who broke the Watergate scandal and subsequent cover-up that brought down the Nixon presidency. Back in those days, newspapers were king. In those days, there was no instant news. There was no CNN. There was no Fox News. There was no instant social media. Newspapers would come out once a day (though some papers had afternoon editions) and pretty much every household subscribed to the newspapers. In those days, newspapers had the luxury of time. Because of that luxury, newspapers had the tradition of verifying news stories from multiple sources. It was expected and required. It was also a good thing. It was in that atmosphere that Woodward and Bernstein broke open all the illegal activities conducted by the Committee to Re-Elect the President (or CREEP, as was its acronym). As part of the process, each and every story they wrote about the scandal, they had to verify their original sources with multiple corroborative sources. The White House could say that the stories were not true but the evidence of corroborative sources was so overwhelming that the stories had traction. With each revelation that was corroborated and corroborated again, the nails began to be placed in the coffin of what was the presidency of Richard Nixon. The evidence was so overwhelming that President Nixon resigned his office in August 1974 right in the middle of his second term as President.

 

Fast forward to today, we have cell phone videos. We have Instagram. We have 24 hour news cycles on television. We have instant access to what’s going on in the world. Is it necessarily a good thing? I begin to wonder. Now, there is no time for newspapers, television stations, networks, etc. to verify news sources to corroborate a story as being true. We see it. We form and opinion. We report it. There is such a fundamental breakdown in journalistic standards in our nation and the rest of the world that we no longer can trust what we see and read as news. It used to be that the news providers would police themselves with what they called journalistic standards where by their own professional integrity that they would only report what they knew and had verified to be true. No longer is that true. We the news consumer must determine for ourselves what is true and what is not. Now, the news outlets seem to be outlets for whatever political agenda that their news agency supports. CNN is known to be quite liberal. Fox News is known to be quite conservative, for example. You can watch the same news event on each of these international news outlets and come away thinking very different things. Even the news agencies, once the bastions of impartiality and “just the facts” have become part of the polarized political landscape in which we live.

 

We the general public are to blame as well. We take our cell phone videos and stir up millions with our selective reporting of news events. We also knee jerk react to what we see. We do not expect that the truth will prevail anymore. We form our opinions and react to the news regardless of what the facts of the situation truly are. Police shootings are automatically the fault of the police and the facts of the case are no longer a relevant thing, only the spin that we put on things is relevant. We manage our own truth now. Journalistic standards are no longer necessary only political spin is. It is a reflection of the fact that we no longer care about absolute truth anymore as a society. We makes me happy is my truth. What makes you happy is your truth. We no longer care or believe that there are absolute truths in life. As a result, the media is a reflection of our society. We only read and listen and watch those news agencies that support our brand of the truth.

 

This morning as I was reading this passage, I thought about how tough it was for Woodward and Bernstein to crack open the Watergate scandal (so much so that it required a two hour movie to summarize it) and how different today’s knee-jerk journalism is from that. How we go about determining the truth today is far from biblical and that’s what came to mind when I read Deuteronomy 17:2-13. Let’s read it now, together:

 

2 If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the Lord gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God in violation of his covenant, 3 and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars in the sky, 4 and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, 5 take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death. 6 On the testimony of two or three witnesses a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. 7 The hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting that person to death, and then the hands of all the people. You must purge the evil from among you.

 

8 If cases come before your courts that are too difficult for you to judge—whether bloodshed, lawsuits or assaults—take them to the place the Lord your God will choose. 9 Go to the Levitical priests and to the judge who is in office at that time. Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict. 10 You must act according to the decisions they give you at the place the Lord will choose. Be careful to do everything they instruct you to do. 11 Act according to whatever they teach you and the decisions they give you. Do not turn aside from what they tell you, to the right or to the left. 12 Anyone who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to the Lord your God is to be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel. 13 All the people will hear and be afraid, and will not be contemptuous again.

 

In this passage, we see that a person was not put to death on the testimony of one witness. On the witness of two or three, a man or woman could be condemned and then sentenced to death. This process protected the rights of the accused person two ways. First, by requiring several witnesses, it prevented an angry individual from stirring up a mob mentality with false testimony. Second, by requiring the accusers to participate in the execution of the court’s judgment, it made them think twice about accusing someone in an unjust manner.

 

Shouldn’t we be that way as Christians in the world in which we live. We must discern the real truth from political spin. We must have the discernment not to participate in mob mentalities. We must have the discernment not to be ready to stone those who do not believe in the same manner that we do until we have corroborated the facts. We are commanded by the Bible not too quick to judge. It is upon this basis that our court systems were developed. It was under this basis that all of our system of government was built so as to prevent the mob from destroying our country just because they believe something to be true when the truth might be something different. We may hate our court systems for letting criminals go free over technicalities. But I think it was Benjamin Franklin that said that it is better for a 100 criminals to go free than for 1 innocent man to go to prison. We have become a nation that no longer cares about the truth. The truth is what I frame it as. Let us not be participants in this mentality and let us as Christians lead to way in changing our nation into a nation that seeks the absolute truth and not just our version of it. Absolute truth comes from God and everything else is just opinion.

 

We must not be a people who participate in knee jerk reactions and opinions taken as truth. We, of all people, should seek truth, the absolute truth. We should be the ones that seek it and find it. We are children of God who have been given the benefit of the doubt. We were actually rightfully convicted by our sin and condemned to the death known as hell if it were not for the action of Jesus Christ to take our punishment for us. We were redeemed and set free from our punishment. Therefore, it is biblical for us, to seek the truth and not join the mob just because the mob is large. Jesus was crucified as part of God’s plan but on the human side of things, He was crucified by public opinion. We must have discernment and a willingness to find the truth and corroborate it. We must not join the bandwagon because everyone else is. We must stand for the truth. We must seek it. We must find it. We must not be the like mob that crucified Jesus unjustly. We must honor Jesus by seeking truth always, not just that which is easy – following the mob’s perception of truth, their spin of the truth. We must be willing to stand up for what is right and true even if the media spins the truth, even if the mob determines its own truth.

 

Amen and Amen.

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Matthew 26:57-68 (Part 1)

Caiaphas Questions Jesus

 

The more things change; the more they stay the same is an old saying. The reason that it is an old saying, meaning that it has been around a long time, is because it is truth. Truth tends to stand the test of time. And so it is with old sayings. The more things change; the more they stay the same. In today’s passage, there is a rush to judgment, a rush to justify one’s opinion, and you will do anything to support it. Even non-believers who know the Jesus story condemn the hastiness, the kangaroo court atmosphere of the trail at Caiaphas’ house. However, are we not doing the same today in our political correctness. One of the recent events that baffles me is how my once rock ‘n’ roll idol, Bruce Springsteen, has decided to cancel a concert in the state of North Carolina, Greensboro to be exact, because of the state’s decision to pass a law that overturns the ordinance of the City of Charlotte allowing transgender individuals to use the public bathrooms of their choice. I was blown away by Bruce’s decision to stand with such a law. Bruce has always been the working man’s rock and roller. He sang about things that mattered to the common man, unemployment, making ends meet, marital issues, working for the man, and so on. He was the balladeer of the common man’s struggles in a world that glorifies riches. Yet, here he is so many years later, where the common man has made him a rich man and has made him rich for a very long time, supporting something that is so completely against the nature of the common that it shows how distant Bruce has actually become from the people he has championed over the years. Here, in one statement made to the press via press release, not in person, he claims that he stands with those who identify themselves with those who identify themselves as female when anatomically male and as male when anatomically female. I believe that Bruce has rushed to judgment over the state of North Carolina. He sits remotely in his Rumson, New Jersey estate and has made up his mind without trying to understand the situation.

 

He is willing to sell out North Carolina to please the intolerant tolerance of our nation. We are so afraid of offending anyone in this country that we have become intolerant of anyone disagrees with the anything goes mentality of the world. Bruce is so enamored with the chic-ness of the LGBT movement and how everyone is jumping on that bandwagon that he has sold his soul to appease them. There are so many instances such as this where the chic-ness of the LGBT movement is like a tidal wave that people jump on and ride without really even knowing what they are protesting against. They just know that it’s cool to protest against this thing and they do it. It’s mob mentality. And that is so far from the Bruce that I used to know and idolize that it just shows how out of touch with his real fan base that he really is. Let one Bruce say he is not going to do concerts in North Carolina and every other act joins in the protest because…well because everybody else is doing it. Didn’t our parents teach us not to jump off a bridge just because all our friends were doing it. As this tidal wave against North Carolina gains momentum, can we not be our parents once again and say stop. Don’t jump off the bridge just because all your entertainment industry buddies are. Think about what you are throwing your support behind and protesting against first. Bruce, what if your daughter, Jessica Rae, is attacked by sexual predator in a women’s bathroom because there was so much pressure on North Carolina to allow transgender men to use women’s bathrooms. What if it was Jessica? How would you feel then? Protecting the rights of transgenders is fine but in so doing we open the door for all kinds of weird perversion of sexual predators. What if it was your daughter, Bruce? What if it were your daughter? Rush to judgment can lead us down paths we do not want to go in the end. Bruce is joing the mob mentality here and the more things change, the more they stay the same. Don’t get me wrong, I think that transgenders deserve our compassion and love, but I do not think that this behavior should be celebrated and certified. The risks of doing so are far greater than the benefits. Sometimes we have to limit our freedoms to ensure the safety of the entire society. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, to quote Spock.

 

That is what I think about when I think about this hasty trial of Jesus. The minds were made up. There was rush to judgment. If does not matter to the priests that Jesus was in truth the Messiah. They just wanted to preserve their system. They did not want to hear what Jesus had to say. It was mob mentality. It was a tidal wave gaining momentum. It was jump on this bandwagon with us because we want what we want and it does not matter what the truth is, really. When we think of how things gain momentum without thought and without facts and without personally investigating things today, let’s read the passage for today, Matthew 26:57-68:

 

57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.

 

59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.

 

Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”

 

62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent.

 

The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

 

64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”[a]

 

65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?”

 

“He is worthy of death,” they answered.

 

67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”

 

Jesus was railroaded. Plain and simple. It did not matter what He said or did that night. He was going to be convicted and sentenced to death somehow, some way. I bet there were those there that night that were members of the high council, the Sandhedrin, as it was called, that felt like Jesus was right in saying what He said. There were those there that I bet felt like Jesus was the Messiah. But the mob mentality took over. They were afraid to speak out for fear of being singled out and maybe suffering the same fate as Jesus. That’s why Jesus’ disciples deserted Him. That’s why the cooler heads in the Sanhedrin said nothing and kept quiet. When the tidal wave gains momentum most of us don’t want to be the one to stand up and say, “This is wrong and I do not care what happens to me for standing up for what is right and what is biblical!” The more things change, the more they stay the same. Mob mentality rules. Nazi Germany was the same way. If you spoke up against the party line, you were marginalized, set aside, imprisoned, or killed. That may not be happening in the United States now but the power of the intolerance of tolerance can be and overwhelming social tide. This same thing. This same mentality happened to our Savior. No one would speak up against the high priest. No one would stand by Jesus’ side. No one was willing to say I believe Jesus is the Messiah – which is the truth. Those who wanted Him dead did not care about the truth. They just wanted Him silenced so they could get their way.

 

Would you and I have stood up for Jesus or would we have stood idly by and just joined the tidal wave against Jesus? Are you willing today to stand up, stand out and stand against that which is against bibilical principles or do we cave in to public pressure, peer pressure. Are you willing to stand up for what is right. Or are we quiet? Do we take our beliefs out into the streets and make the rubber meet the road when it comes to what we believe in. Or are we silent and let the mob take over. We complain about how our world is running away from Christ but we complain from inside our houses. We need to get out in the streets, run for office, vote, make a difference. Stand up and stand out. Stand against the tide. It did not happen that night with the Sanhedrin and does not happen now.

 

The more things change…the more they stay the same.