I hoped I would have been one of those who pushed through to wipe the face of Jesus, who dipped a sponge in wine vinegar. That surely I would not have been among the mocking crowd.
But would I? Very few stood by Jesus: the Marys and John. Peter and the disciples had fled. The crowds who acclaimed him as he entered Jerusalem—vanished. They were now a mocking mob chanting, “He trusted in God, let God deliver him. Let him deliver if he delight in him.”
* * *
Where would I stand, with the mocking, mobbing horde, or with the quiet succourers?
You see, Jesus had been disgraced. He was subject to a myriad false accusations. He had been brutalized, savaged, and humiliated. Ridiculed and made into a laughing stock. Everyone said he was wrong, ridiculous and dangerous—telling them to destroy the temple, and not to pay taxes to Caesar.
He was mobbed. Only a very few had the courage not to join the mockers.
* * *
Blessed is he who does not sit in the company of mockers, Psalm 1 declares. I want to be blessed. And so I want to avoid the ugliness of mockery, which diminishes the mocker more certainly than it diminishes the object of mockery.
Sadly, both because of my cast of mind, and the company I’ve kept, irony, sarcasm, and mild mockery come naturally to me, so I guess I need some retraining of the mind.
* * *
Here’s a possible way of guessing at what kind of men and women we might have been at Calvary: Standing with the mockers, or the compassionate.
In my 34 months in the Christian blogosphere, I’ve noticed that pretty much every month, a follower of Christ makes himself, or is made, into an object of international public derision.
Mark Driscoll who baptized 1392 people in 2011 alone declares that the UK church are “a bunch of cowards,” “guys in dresses, preaching to grandmas.”
He is mocked and condemned on most blogs, though he qualifies his statement.
Mark Driscoll also said…Well, let me not go there. I am not a fan, of course; I just don’t want to take my seat among the mockers.
* * *
John Piper dismisses a young, wildly popular preacher with a three word tweet, Farewell, Rob Bell. The blogosphere explodes in mockery and condemnation of Piper who has written one of the best Christian books of the last twentieth century, Desiring God.
As it does, when John Piper declares he knows why a tornado hit Minneapolis on the day the Lutherans were debating homosexuality. The message of the tornado, he says was, Turn from the approval of sin.
* * *
Pat Robertson says the earthquake and the string of disasters which have cursed Haiti was a result of their ancient national pact with the devil. That there is a connection between terrorist attacks on America, Hurricane Katrina and American sin. He is widely mocked and scorned because, well, we are in the 21st century, without anyone considering that the Old Testament continually talks about curses on nations, peoples, and families, though well, all that seems Old to us. But Jesus warned of such things too.
And we all mock the self-professed Christ-followers on the fringes of faith—poor deluded Harold Camping, or beyond the pale, Burn a Koran Terry Jones, or Westboro Baptist Church. Or anyone really, who gets too politically incorrect, as the younger Graham does, all the time, in calling Islam wicked and evil. (Though as I wrote in a very early blog post I can see why he thinks so.)
* * *
Andy Warhol famously said, “In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.” Well, the flip side of that could be that everyone who is in any way a public figure, might make themselves the object of public opprobrium for least 15 minutes, whether on a public or private stage.
Even our Christian brothers and sisters. And the issue is: are we going to join the mobs baying for their blood? This lowers us far more than it lowers them. They have already been publicly diminished. We diminish ourselves by our eagerness to kick and stone the man or woman who is already down.
So, will we join the mocking hordes at their Golgothas, or be the discreet and kind who quietly pray, knowing: There, but for the grace of God, go I?
Will we be the One who is blessed, who does not sit in the company of mockers? (Psalm 1).
I want to be blessed, and I do not want to mock, and Lord, please lead me not into temptation.