That Time They Tried to Cancel Jesus

The Garden

Cancel culture is not new and it is nearly always about the struggle over who has power and control.

When you get down to it, the struggle over who is in charge goes back to the beginning when the serpent asked Adam and Eve, “Did God really say…?”

The conspiracy to silence Jesus of Nazareth began as soon as he challenged people who wanted to maintain power. From the time he disregarded their rules by healing a man with a withered arm on a day defined by a tradition to trump mercy, the religious leaders started plotting how to cancel not only Jesus’ influence, but his existence.

It started with public criticism. Where John the Baptist was accused of being too somber, Jesus, according to his critics, was too easy-going. “A drunkard and glutton!” they said.  Then they began to intimidate anyone who associated with him by threatening to cancel their access to the synagogue. The parents of a man born blind were so afraid of the religious experts, they refused to say who was responsible for the stunning miracle that gave their son sight. “Ask him yourself,” they hedged, “He’s of age.”

Jesus continued healing the sick and talking about the Kingdom of God despite misinformation they tried to spread about him. “Don’t be fooled,” they warned. “He is doing this by the power of Beelzebub. This guy is a danger to our way of life. He habitually blasphemes, calling God his father. We have witnesses right here who can attest to the fact they heard him say,  ‘Before Abraham was, I am.’”

Jesus rode into Jerusalem to the cheers of the crowd who hoped he would be the one to bring them health, wealth, and freedom from political oppression. The crowds that cheered became the crowds that jeered.

Mob mentality is a strange phenomenon. We’ve seen it at work on the streets, at concerts, and on media lately. Fans can turn alarmingly quickly when they don’t get what they want. When it appeared Jesus was not going to take down the government, they cried for revenge the way an embarrassed suitor can turn selfish “love” into revengeful hate when his plans are stymied. They somehow became convinced they should release a known criminal instead of Jesus.

Jesus knew about the plans to silence him and cancel him permanently. He knew what he was walking into. In the end the powers of hell influenced religious, political, and military authorities, as well as people in the streets to join the call to cancel The Messiah. As a line from the song Via Dolorosa reminds us: But he chose to walk that way out of his love for you and me.

God’s ways are not our ways. Only a God so humble that he would let humans do their worst to himself could prove his love for them in the most counterintuitive way. Only a God so wise would give them time to let that sink in.

All the powers of darkness cannot cancel The Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus conquered death to prove he is Love and the Light of the World.

He loves you. He loves you. He loves you.

Jesus: “How could I describe the people of this generation? You’re like children playing games on the playground, yelling at their playmates, ‘You don’t like it when we want to play Wedding! And you don’t like it when we want to play Funeral! You will neither dance nor mourn.’ Why is it that when John came to you, neither feasting nor drinking wine, you said, ‘He has a demon in him!’? Yet when the Son of Man came and went to feasts and drank wine, you said, ‘Look at this man! He is nothing but a glutton and a drunkard! He spends all his time with tax collectors and other sinners.’ But God’s wisdom will become visible by those who embrace it.” (Matthew 11:16-19 TPT)    

The Street

Immediately the Pharisees went out and started to scheme about how they would destroy him. Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he left by another way. Massive crowds followed him from there, and he healed all who were sick. However, he sternly warned them not to tell others or disclose his real identity, in order to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah:

 Take a careful look at my servant, my chosen one.
    I love him dearly
    and I find all my delight in him.
    I will breathe my Spirit upon him
    and he will decree justice to the nations.
 He will not quarrel or raise his voice in public.
 He won’t brush aside the bruised and broken.
    He will be gentle with the weak and feeble,
    until his victory releases justice.
 And the fame of his name
    will birth hope among the people.
(Matthew 12:14-21 TPT)

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