Section 1: Perspective
In the story Horton hears a who. Horton is an allegory <interruption – no he’s not– he
is an elephant>
Yes – Horton was an elephant – but he was also an allegory.
What is an allegory?
An allegory is a little bit like a parable – it’s a story with a hidden meaning. – a story in
which the main characters represent something else – just as Aslan in c.s. lewis’ narnia
Let me give you an example. – When doctors use Radiotherapy to help to get rid of a
cancer, they use enough radiation to damage and destroy the bad cells that are out of
control and are causing the cancer.
The only problem is, radiation doesn’t just kill cancer cells – it kills any cells. So when
when the cancer is surrounded by good cells, how do you get enough radiation to hit the
cancer cells without also killing all the good cells?
Apparently, in a psychology experiment, 20% of people asked that question get it right.
However, they also took another group of people and told them a story:
The army was trying to attack a castle. Unfortunately, the soldiers defending the castle
had sewn land mines on all the roads to the castle, so that if more than 10 people at once
walked down any road, then the land mines would explode. Nobody had ever managed to
take the castle, until one clever general divided his army into groups of 10 soldiers, and
sent each group separately down 10 different roads at the same time. In this way, 100
soldiers were able to attack the castle at the same time, and the army was able to defeat
the soldiers defending the castle.
Apparently, people who are told that story BEFORE being asked how to treat the cancer
almost ALWAYS get the answer right – the answer is that you send the radiation into the
body in smaller amounts from several different directions, so that they only meet up
exactly where the cancer is – and in that way only the cancer cells are damaged.
And that’s how an allegory works. And for me, Horton as well as being an elephant, is
also an allegory
You see, Horton is a full size elephant – and the whos are so small that their entire town
fits onto a speck of fluff light enough to float through the air, or be carried on a single
The most amazing thing about the whole story is Horton and the whos are able to
communicate at all. They come from completely different worlds and they’re completely
different in scale.
And I sort of wonder whether you can see that in some ways, Horton is like God, and
we’re like the whos – That God is so far above us that we can’t even being to imagine
what he’s like and what sort of world he inhabits and what he’s really capable of – and
that on the scale of the entire universe, we’re nothing more than a collection of really
small people clinging to a ball of rock – almost too small even for God to notice.
And yet somehow, against all probability, somehow he does notice us, and somehow he
does communicate, and somehow the one who created the entire universe, who formed
every star and made the galaxies is able to communicate with us across all the fantastic
barriers between us
Like any allegory, though, they can only be taken so far.
You see, Horton cared for the whos and looked after them, but he could never really
know what what it was like to BE a who
Imagine if perhaps, for the sake of the story, some mad scientist monkey was able to
shrink Horton so small that he could actually live in the WHO town and looked just like
Because that’s what our God did for us. He wasn’t content to remain in his own world,
unreachable and untouchable, but instead he took a step that made true real
communication possible – he actually became one of us. Lived like one of us, and died
like one of us. And now, through that sacrifice he has made it possible both for bartimeus
and for us to hear him, talk to him, and to know him…
Do you know, one of the strangest things I’ve ever been told to do as a Christian is to
give something to God in prayer and leave it with him.
Do you know why I think it’s one of the strangest things I’ve been told, because I think
it’s one of the most common misconceptions which are found in the church today, and I
think it goes dead against what Jesus taught, and it goes dead against the experience of
those who’ve spent large parts of their lives in prayer.
There were many hundreds and thousands of Christians who used to meet together
regularly to pray that God would do something about the Berlin wall. For tens of years,
nothing. And then suddently within the space of a few years – or even a few months,
God’s appointed time came and the wall came down. These people did not just call on
God once, ask him to do something and then leave it in his hands. You’ll find the same
story behind the fall of apartheid and many other systems of injustice, some of which are
still around today waiting for God to move.
Of course, Jesus criticised those who stood in the market places and used long impressive
words in their prayers so that people would hear them and know what holy people they
were. But then he also taught the lesson in Luke chapter 7 – just after he had given the
disciples the Lord’s prayer:
Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend
me three loaves of bread, 6because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I
have nothing to set before him.'
7"Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my
children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' 8I tell you, though he
will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's
boldness[e] he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
9"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the
door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and
to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
That passage doesn’t make a great deal of sense without 2 vital bits of information.
Firstly, if you look down at the footnotes of your bible, you’ll see that in verse 8, the
word translated Boldness has the same meaning as the word “persistence”
Jesus is saying that the man will get the things he needs – not for asking once and then
going away but only with persisting in making his request.
Secondly, the passage has a little bit of a problem when translated into English – and that
is that we don’t have the right words in English to make sense of it properly.
In the original greek they have a tense that we don’t – and it makes this passage really
difficult to translate. But listen to it again – this time from the amplified bible:
8I tell you, although he will not get up and supply him anything because he is his
friend, yet because of his shameless persistence and insistence he will get up and give
him as much as he needs.
9So I say to you, Ask and [b]keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and [c]keep
on seeking and you shall find; knock and [d]keep on knocking and the door shall be
opened to you.
10For everyone who asks and [e]keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and
keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and [g]keeps on knocking, the door shall
So far from teaching that we should pray once and leave everything to God, we’re told to
ask and keep on asking. – in effect we’re told to pester God until we get what we’re
Of course, God is God, and if we’re asking for something that’s bad for us, or less than
what he has planned for us, then like any good parent he will say no and keep on saying
And it’s this principle that Bartimeus followed in today’s reading. He didn’t just shout
out to Jesus and leave it there – he shouted again and again until finally Jesus heard and
Jesus healed him.
So there we have it. If you didn’t know it before then you know it now – pester power:
it’s a biblical principle.
Ok – most people here will know the Christmas story, so help me out here if you can.
Who was Jesus’ father?
Ok, various answers, if you’re looking for the man who fulfilled the earthly role of being
Jesus’ father then we’re talking about Joseph. However, we also know that Jesus is the
son of God, by the Holy Spirit.
However, the strange thing is, Bartimeus doesn’t call him the son of God, nor does he
call him the son of Joseph. Instead, Bartimeus calls him the son of David. – so what’s
going on there then?
The thing is, as strange as it might sound to the younger members here, the people of
bartimeus’s time didn’t have video games to keep them occupied. There were no DVDs,
no TV, not even Radios had been invented in Jesus’ days, and only the very richest of
people would have been taught how to read or write – so what did the people do for
Well there were two main possibilities for those who had time on their hands. According
to the historian Josephus, Herod the great was a great sport-lover, to the extend that he
personally sponsored the olympic games for many years and even built a stadium close to
At other times. When sport was not available, the main attraction was to hear the many
rabbis speaking and teaching.
Bartimeus was a begger – he didn’t want to be a beggar, but in those days if you couldn’t
work, you either begged or you didn’t eat. And So, bartimeus would have known the
best places to beg – and that would have been where the most popular rabbis were
teaching. Because of this, Bartimeus would have heard the scriptures read out and
explained many times – and he knew something very important
He knew that the messiah, god’s chosen one, had to be a decendent of King David. In
Jeremiah chapter 23 it reads:
5 "The days are coming," declares the LORD,
"when I will raise up to David [a] a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely
and do what is just and right in the land.
6 In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called:
The LORD Our Righteousness.
So, Bartimeus would have known that the Messiah that God had promised would be the
decendent of David. – he’s have heard the scriptures many times.
And so, when Bartimeus cries out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me” again and
again, in a voice so loud that the people around him were telling him to shut up, He was
doing more than trying to get Jesus’ attention – much more. He was making a statement
He was saying Jesus – I believe that You are the decendent of David – I believe that you
are the messiah who has come to save us.
And the real irony of it is this., this blind man, this man who could see nothing at all,
could see the truth of Jesus far more clearly than the rabbis he’d been listening to.