The twelve apostles included “Bartholomew [Nathanael]” (Matt. 10:3).
Prejudice can destroy relationships and prevent people from coming to Christ.
Prejudice is an uncalled-for generalization based on feelings of superiority. It is an ugly sin that has fueled hatred and conflicts for centuries, dividing entire nations and bringing untold misery. But prejudice is most damning when it blinds people to God’s Word. The prophet Jonah was so prejudiced against the Assyrians, he refused to go to Nineveh to preach to them. Even after God convinced him to obey, he wanted to die because the people of Nineveh had repented and God had spared them.
Prejudice also reared its ugly head in Nathanael, whose last name was Bartholomew (meaning “son of Tolmai”). John 1:45-46 says, “Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” And Nathanael said to him, ‘Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?'” Nathanael was a student of the Word and was looking for the Messiah, but he couldn’t understand how Messiah could come from Nazareth.
Nazareth lay on the fringes of the Jewish world—the last stop before Gentile territory. Perhaps the people of Cana, Nathanael’s hometown, were more refined and educated than the people of Nazareth. Whatever the cause, Nathanael’s perspective seemed to be that nothing but trouble could come out of Nazareth.
Prejudice has blinded many people to the gospel. The Jewish religious leaders rejected Jesus because He didn’t fit their idea of a Messiah, wasn’t from Jerusalem, and wasn’t trained in their synagogues. Fortunately Nathanael’s desire for truth overpowered his prejudice and he came to Jesus.
Perhaps you have family or friends who are resisting the gospel because of prejudice. If so, don’t be discouraged and don’t give up! Jesus broke through Nathanael’s prejudice and redeemed him, and He has done the same for millions of others.
Suggestions for Prayer
- Pray for those you know who are blinded by prejudice, asking God to open their spiritual eyes to His truth.
- Confess any prejudice you might have in your own heart.
For Further Study
Practicing unity and humility is the best way to overcome prejudice within the Body of Christ. Read Ephesians 4:1-6 and Philippians 2:1-8.
- What attitudes did Paul encourage? Discourage?
- Who is the example we’re to follow of humble service on behalf of others?