When admiration becomes adulation
You will not find any performer in the history of entertainment that loved his or her fans more than Michael Joseph Jackson loved his. But what if he was worshipped in return? Consider this ancient incident:
What Would Michael Do?: “A man who was born lame was in Lystra. He was always sitting because he had never been able to walk. He listened to what Paul was saying. Paul observed him closely and saw that the man believed he could be made well. So Paul said in a loud voice, ‘Stand up.’ The man jumped up and began to walk. The crowds who saw what Paul had done shouted in the Lycaonian language, ‘The gods have come to us, and they look human.’
“They addressed Barnabas as Zeus and Paul as Hermes because Paul did most of the talking. Zeus’ temple was at the entrance to the city. The priest of the god Zeus brought bulls with flowery wreaths around their necks to the temple gates. The priest and the crowd wanted to offer a sacrifice [to Paul and Barnabas]. When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening, they were very upset. They rushed into the crowd and said, ‘Men, what are you doing? We’re human beings like you.
“We’re spreading the Good News to you to turn you away from these worthless gods to the living God. The living God made the sky, the land, the sea, and everything in them. In the past God allowed all people to live as they pleased. Yet, by doing good, he has given evidence of his existence. He gives you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons. He fills you with food and your lives with happiness.’ Although Paul and Barnabas said these things, they hardly kept the crowd from sacrificing to them.”–Acts 14:8-18, God’s Word Translation.
After Paul miraculously cured a crippled man, the local people mistakenly thought he was the Greek god Hermes (Latin, Mercury), primarily “because Paul did most of the talking.” Interestingly, the English word “hermeneutics,” which comes from the Greek word hermes, means ‘the science of interpretation, especially of the Scriptures.’ Indeed, Paul was taking the lead in preaching, explaining, and interpreting the Scriptures. Barnabas was thought to be Zeus (Latin, Jupiter).
“Barnabas was called Jupiter,” says one Bible commentator, “possibly because his personal appearance was more imposing than Paul’s.” Another scholar notes: “It may be because that Barnabas was the oldest man, of the tallest stature, and largest bulk, and made the best figure; whereas Paul was younger, of a low stature.” Whatever the case, upon realizing the priest’s and crowd’s reaction, both Paul and Barnabas “were very upset,” and “rushed into the crowd and said, ‘Men, what are you doing? We’re human beings like you.'”
Another situation: “As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. ‘Stand up,’ he said, ‘I am only a man myself.'” (Ac 10:25, 26, New International Version) What about Michael?
In spite of being idolized and adored by millions, Michael never for one moment thought himself to be a god. And while during a performance he humbly and warmly acknowledged the sometimes frenzied admiration of adoring fans, if he thought for a moment they were heaping upon him worshipful adulation, it would not be beyond him to ‘rush into the crowd and kindly and innocently ask, “What are you doing? I’m a human being just like you.”‘
A Date with Hate: Some feel it was inevitable that Michael would encounter hateful schemes designed to ruin him. With all good he has done for countless individuals over the years, the sad reality in this wicked system is that, “No good deed will go unpunished.” Being as he was, a delicate soul, this concept was incomprehensible to him.
He felt as did the psalmist who sang, “Those who hate me without reason are numerous. Those who repay my good with evil slander me when I seek what is good.” (Ps 38:19, 20, NIV) His prayer could be summarized thusly: “O may those who for no reason are my enemies not rejoice over me; as for those hating me without cause, let them not wink the eye. For it is not peace that they speak; … deception they keep scheming.” (Ps 35:19-21, New World Translation) But, in the end, all will be made right. Peace and blessings to all. Amen.