Christianity 201

November 28, 2022

First Century Cancel Culture

A couple of times in our earlier years we featured the writing of Claire in New Zealand at the blog One Passion, One Devotion. I’m not sure how we broke that continuity, but today, after a long break we’re catching up. Click the title which follows to link to this article at its source, and then click that blog’s header for some really excellent articles.

Influenced – Blind Bartimaeus

You don’t have to be on the internet for more than 2 minutes to know about cancel culture. Some of its valid – they should cancel certain people for certain things – but others you’re like,  ‘Come on!’ …

Let’s jump into the bible and see where the crowd tried to cancel someone and how they didn’t let that crowd influence them and stop them from encountering Jesus.

Mark 10

Jesus and his disciples went to Jericho. And as they were leaving, they were followed by a large crowd. A blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus son of Timaeus was sitting beside the road. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus from Nazareth, he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” 48 Many people told the man to stop, but he shouted even louder, “Son of David, have pity on me!”

49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him over!”

They called out to the blind man and said, “Don’t be afraid! Come on! He is calling for you.” 50 The man threw off his coat as he jumped up and ran to Jesus.

51 Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”

The blind man answered, “Master, I want to see!”

52 Jesus told him, “You may go. Your eyes are healed because of your faith.”

At once the man could see, and he went down the road with Jesus.

I love it when we read the bible – it’s not just a story locked into the pages – it’s God showing us what He is like and what He can do and we can ask Him to speak and show us what He wants to say today about our lives and what He wants to do to and through us.

So Jesus has been in Jericho – doing miracles, healing people, teaching.  Because of this a large crowd had started following Him.  He’s the man, He’s amazing.

But there is a difference between following Jesus in the crowd and being a follower of Jesus.

The crowd were buzzed about all the cool stuff Jesus was doing.  But followers declared Jesus was Master, Lord, Saviour and their lives completely changed because of His influence.

So Jesus is leaving Jericho and the crowd is following.  Crowds are noisy right – unless you’re in one doing a minute’s silence – there is always some level of noise.  People talking. People yelling. People moving.  In this case there were probably people bustling to get closer to Jesus, to hear what He was saying or to get Him to touch them and heal them.

There is a blind man sitting by the road – this was his spot where he would have been dropped off every day, or maybe he slept here, and it was where he would beg for money and food.   They didn’t have health insurance or disability allowances back in those days.  Bartimaeus heard all the noise and the buzz of the crowd and asked someone what is going on? What’s happening?

When he was told Jesus was walking past he called out loudly JESUS SON OF DAVID, HAVE PITY ON ME!

What he is saying here is important.  Son of David is one of those spiritual titles for who Jesus is – that he is the son of God, the messiah.  So Bartimaeus KNOWS who Jesus is, he knows his true identity.    He has heard of his great fame, he has heard of the great things that Jesus has done and he has made up his mind that this is the one who has the power to change his life and heal him.  He has made up his mind that this is God Almighty.

And the crowd tried to cancel him. They told him to sit down and shut up.  They tried to block him from meeting Jesus.

Sometimes when we’re Christians people will tell us to sit down and shut up.  The world have tried to cancel Christians and call us intolerant and narrow minded.

They’ll try to cancel us because sometimes what we believe is counter cultural.  It’s upside down to the world.

It’s bless your enemies instead of get vengeance.

It’s serve not be served.

It’s deny yourself instead of follow your heart.

It’s righteousness and holiness instead of whatever feels good.

It’s purity instead of player.

It’s self control instead of whatever I want I want it now.

It’s seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness instead of building my own kingdom.

It’s grace instead of guilt, hope instead of hopelessness.

Disclaimer here:  Being a Christian isn’t about rules and to do and to do don’t lists.  It’s about a relationship with God, its about peace with God, and when its like that we make God our greatest influencer because we see He’s worth it and His way of living, while hard and upside down sometimes, we do it in response of how good and loving God is.  Knowing Him is worth everything.

Bartimaeus didn’t let the crowd cancel him. In fact, he got louder. He called out even louder.

The cool thing is that over all the noise of the crowd Jesus heard Bartimaeous.  There would have been hundreds of people potentially calling out His name, but there was something about this man calling that grabbed His attention.

Have you ever thought about how God hears us when we pray even if the 8 billion people on the planet all prayed at the same time? He cares about you and what you have to pray.  Prayer doesn’t have to be special words at special times, it is us talking to God, listening to God and about us connecting heart to heart.  We can be honest about how we’re feeling.  If you read Psalms you’ll see often that David, author of probably over half of them, talks about how life sucks, how he feels like he’s drowning, that everyone is against him, that he’s alone, scared, frustrated, angry.  They’re emotional!  They’re raw!  But he always ends it by realizing that in it all, despite how he feels, in the middle of the mess, God is right there, God rescues Him, we can call out to Him and He will hear and respond.  God hears you when you pray.  If we could see what happens when we prayed, how God turns His attention to us we would want to pray more.  If we could see angels move in response to our prayers, we would want to pray more more more.

49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him over!”

They called out to the blind man and said, “Don’t be afraid! Come on! He is calling for you.” 50 The man threw off his coat as he jumped up and ran to Jesus.

Now I want to pause here and point something out.  Minor details in the bible can have major meaning.

Bartimaeus threw off his cloak and jumped up and ran to Jesus.

That cloak wasn’t just a jacket, wasn’t just a jumper, wasn’t just a hoodie or an item of clothes.  It was an item of clothing, a cloak that defined that he was a beggar.  It was like his permission slip to be sitting there asking for money.  If you were wearing a cloak like that it showed the people around you that you were a beggar.  It was his identity.  In biblical days, being blind was often seen as a curse. There was really no way to support yourself financially, so beggars were given cloaks, which gave them permission to beg. Beggars were defined as such by the cloak they wore. Usually, the cloak was the beggar’s one and only possession and their only source of income.

Bartimaeus threw off his cloak. He threw off his old way of life. He threw off his comfort zone. He was done being defined as a beggar. He didn’t just toss aside a jacket or sweater, this was life or death. It was sink or swim time; either he was going to be healed or he would have nothing. His faith was remarkable; he was so desperate for change he went to Jesus expecting a miracle.

When he encountered Jesus he threw it off and left it behind.  Jesus changes us – he gives us a brand new start.  He takes off our old life and gives us a new one.

It’s like how we talked about last week with our panel – God gets to define our life.  He gets to say how we do it.  He gets to say leave this behind and live differently because He is good, wise, great and most importantly because He loves us.

So Bartimaeus meets Jesus.

51 Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”
The blind man answered, “Master, I want to see!”
52 Jesus told him, “You may go. Your eyes are healed because of your faith.”
At once the man could see, and he went down the road with Jesus.

What do you want me to do for you?  Surely Jesus could tell this man was blind?

But He asked.

Loaded question potentially.

He’s asking the blind man what do you expect me to do?  What do you believe I can do?   What do you have faith in?

Jesus asks us the same question.

What do you believe I can do?  What do you want me to do for you?

Now we don’t turn this into a Christmas list for Santa situation where we reply with our wish list, a Lamborghini, to be 5 foot 5, doc martin boots, a swimming pool….

Psalm 37:4 says Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Philippians 2:13 says: for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

It’s like God places His dreams in our heart and the Holy Spirit transforms us that our desires become His desires and His desires become our desires.  It is God at work in us to make us willing to do His will.

But its also an invitation.

What do you want me to do for you?

How big can you believe God for?   How big can you dream?  How big can your vision be?

God wants to do amazing things to and through our lives.  We are not made for normal.  We are not made to blend in.   We follow an amazing God who is the creator of the universe, who loves us so much that He gave His son Jesus to make the way for us to have peace with God.   Nothing is impossible for God.

So how do we make this real in our lives?
1.  Position yourself where Jesus is – Bartimaeus was on the main road where everyone has to pass through.  In the same way, get yourself where God is.  River Youth.  Camp.  The Guys Group, Glow  Church.  We don’t put these on just because we like to have fun together, but because we believe that when you position yourself where God is you meet Him and He changes your life.

2.  Call out to God.  The bible says that everyone who calls out to God will be saved. Calling out to God can look like prayer, can look like worship, can look like getting prayed for, can look like fasting.

3.  Leave the old behind and follow Him.  Bartimaeus threw off his cloak and left that identity behind and left everything that was familiar to follow Jesus.  He became a disciple.

God is inviting each one of us into that adventure.

The challenge is the same.

Will we see Jesus for who He really is?

Will we fight the cancel of the crowd telling us that this is crazy?

Will we hear Jesus calling us to come closer?

Will we believe He can do what He can do?

Will we throw off our old life and follow Him?

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks so much for sharing! Lovely to see you again!

    Comment by fireball3316 — November 28, 2022 @ 5:38 pm | Reply


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