We have often read in the newspaper or heard about challenges from groups or individuals that have tried to remove God or prayer from schools or public settings. There has to come a point that, in a country where there is freedom of speech or expression, where Christians need to defend their own rights to take a stand for God’s Word. Yes, there will certainly be conflict when we take this stand, but even today we need to remember what occurred when Jesus was in His ministry here on earth. At first, there were always crowds that gathered when He traveled from place to place. Within the crowds of people that gathered, there were those that sincerely wanted to hear what He had to say, and there were those who doubted Him or flat out refused to acknowledge who He was (John 2:23-25). Jesus knew the hearts of every man and woman that He encountered, yet He still ministered to those who were in need. When Jesus was arrested and had to face the Sanhedrin (Luke 22:66-71) and stand before Pilate (Luke 23:1-5), the crowds disappeared. When there was opposition to Christ, where did the crowds go? Where were the people who supported Jesus Christ?
The crowds that Jesus encountered in His ministry were ever-present and persistent everywhere that He traveled. “When Jesus saw large crowds around Him, He gave the order to go to the other side of the sea. A scribe approached Him and said, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go!’ Jesus told him, ‘Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head” (Matthew 8:18-19). He had the huge, frequent crowds because of the many miracles that He performed in healing sicknesses and those who were demon-possessed (Matthew 8:14-17). There was never a shortage of people that came to see Him and to hear Him speak; as a result, at times He needed to withdraw. He understood that not everyone in those crowds were gathering to see Him as the Messiah. There are many people today that still refuse to take Jesus, and for that matter, God’s Word, seriously. “When Jesus came to the leader’s house, He saw the flute players and a crowd lamenting loudly. ‘Leave,’ He said, ‘because the girl isn’t dead, but sleeping.’ And they started laughing at Him. But when the crowd had been put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. And this news spread throughout that whole area” (Matthew 9:23-26). Even members of the crowds around Jesus were not seeking the truth. It took the example of two blind men, who could not see anything, to seek more from Jesus than what the others did. “As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed Him, shouting, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’ When He entered the house, the blind men approached Him, and Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I can do this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ they answered Him. Then He touched their eyes, saying, ‘Let it be done for you according to your faith!’ And their eyes were opened (Matthew 9:27-30a). The crowds that followed Jesus and that were with Him all day were stirred by Jesus’ compassion for them in the feeding of more than 5,000 (Matthew 14:15) and they rejoiced for Him during His triumphant entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:4-10).
With all of this popularity, why didn’t more people support Jesus Christ when He went before Pilate (Matthew 27:17-21) and when He was forced to carry the cross? Only Simon help Him bear the cross (Matthew 27:32). Others looked on, but those who supported Christ did not speak up for Him for fear of reprisals, and His disciples were in hiding. Note that Pilate’s wife had told Pilate to “have nothing to do with that righteous man, for today I’ve suffered terribly in a dream because of Him!” (Matthew 27:19). When there is opposition to Christ, can we do, at the very least, as much as what Pilate’s wife had said? Can we bear the burden of the gospel with Him?
When the world attacks Jesus Christ with issues of God, family values, and prayer, where are the saints who will defend the faith? Where are the holy ones? Will we continue to allow the world to say whatever it wants to remove Christ from the forefront and we simply acquiesce? It’s time to pick up your cross and follow Him. Don’t wait for others to assist you. God, in His sovereign wisdom, will send others to bolster you and to stand with you in your faith and trust in Him. The crowds may scatter and dissipate, but you, the believer in Christ, must stand firm. Jesus Christ makes the same declaration. “Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven. Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. The person who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; the person who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Anyone finding his life will lose it, and anyone losing his life because of Me will find it” (Matthew 10:32-39).