Then he [Jesus] said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
-- Luke 9:23, NIV
In the church or liturgical year, we call this coming Sunday “Palm” or “Passion” Sunday. It marks the beginning of Holy Week. While Holy Week begins on a positive note, with the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey and people waving palm branches, we need to remember that later on that week things will not go well for Jesus. His approval rating will drop dramatically. As one person put it, “The cheers will turn to jeers.” In a few short days Jesus will find himself standing before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate with the crowds no longer shouting, “Hosanna!” but, “Crucify him!” Perhaps if we were a part of that crowd shouting, “Crucify him!” we might be doing the same thing because “Everybody’s doing it.” But does that really make it okay – to do something because “Everybody’s doing it”?
There was an article in The New York Times about moral choices some persons have made -- choices that seem to go against their ethical framework. In the article, Stanford professor Dr. Albert Bandura identified eight mechanisms that people use to rationalize immoral behavior. For example, sometimes we say things like, “We were just carrying out orders.” We may even dehumanize the person we are mistreating, or we might “blame the victim by saying, “they were asking for it.”
However, one of the eight mechanisms is what he calls “diffusion of responsibility.” He describes it as “shifting the responsibility for a transgression with others who took part, or who played indirect roles.” In other words, saying, “Everyone was doing it.” It is sometimes how we rationalize being part of a crowd, but does it make it okay simply because everyone is doing it?
Probably one of the hardest things we will ever have to do is to go against the crowd and take a stand for what is right – even if the crowd around us does not. Maybe that is one of the ways we take up our cross daily as followers of Christ. Join us this Sunday as we hear about someone who literally carried the cross of Christ.