Woke mobs aren’t new. There was one out and about on Good Friday, if you recall.
Following a Passover custom, Pilate offered to release Jesus, if the crowds so wished. But the leading priests stirred up the people, until in unison they shouted, “Crucify him!”
“Why?” Pilate shot back. “What crime has he committed?”
At this point, the Gospel of Mark informs us that the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”
Doesn’t it all sound so familiar?
Intolerance is a staple of human nature. But in this project called the West, all things considered, we’ve done a reasonably good job of keeping it in check. We carved out a public square that gave space to a broad range of ideas — some of them quite terrible if we’re honest. Only in such a way, in fact, could we have arrived at the many good ideas that we’ve embraced.
In the not-so-distant past, the noble disposition of Westerners was, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This sort of intellectual integrity was a hallmark of Western debate; a high point of our civilisation.
In a window of time that can be measured in just years, a conglomeration of late modern forces have battered this bulwark and begun to storm the gate. Identity politics, corporate virtue-signalling, cancel culture, and many other weapons of the woke mob have proven very effective in suppressing the marketplace of ideas.
With so much anger raging around us, it’s tempting to be dragged into it ourselves. But Easter shows us a better way.
Jesus wasn’t afraid to push back on the clever word games of the Pharisees when the occasion called for it. He was no pushover.
But He also knew when to remain silent, and He knew how to show mercy and forgiveness. Good Friday was one such moment.
“He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word,” the Scriptures say.
“He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, He did not open His mouth.”
Jesus the Nazarene didn’t need to defend Himself, because He knew what He had come to accomplish.
“Unjustly condemned, He was led away… He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.”
Westerners today might dismiss Christianity or its specifics, like the death and resurrection of Jesus. But the free, secular, democratic societies we have long enjoyed owe their heritage to the Christian faith — and to the Christ Who gave rise to it.
In the words of New Testament historian John Dickson, “Our culture remains cruciform long after it stopped being Christian.” Dickson describes the suffering and willing death of Christ as “nothing less than a humility revolution”:
Honour and shame are turned on their heads. The highly honoured Jesus lowered Himself to a shameful cross and, yet, in so doing became an object not of scorn but of worship and emulation… Honour has been redefined, greatness recast. If the greatest man we have ever known chose to forgo his status for the good of others, reasoned the early Christians, greatness must consist in humble service.
Thousands of years on from Good Friday, our memory of these matters has faded — and that may help explain the widespread return of the woke mob mentality.
This makes the message of Easter even more timely. The kind of meekness, humility and forgiveness displayed by Jesus are in short supply today. It might be time to resurrect them.