Monday, November 13, 2017

Jesus was sinless, yet his peers wanted to award him first prize as the master of offensive.  What did Jesus say or do that was so offensive?  Some thought it was terrible!  Some may have thought it too offensive to print, but Matthew did.  I don’t want to offend anyone by quoting it, but truth is truth and this truth needs to see the light of day!

On one occasion when he, a hometown carpenter who had become a Rabbi, was in Nazareth, he got up to teach in the local synagogue.  What was his offense?  First, he “amazed” them.  Second, he surprised them with his “wisdom.”  Third, he offended them with his “miraculous powers” (Matthew 13:53-57).  They asked, “Where then did this man get all these things?”  Then “they took offense at him.”  Another translation says, “they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him” (NLT).  In another translation, “Who does he think he is?” (The Message).   I am wondering if those who were outraged weren’t the biggest offenders?

The Greek word skandalizo is found 30 times in the KJV as “offend.”  Our word scandalize comes from that word.  Certain Jews considered Jesus’ teaching as heresy and blasphemous.  Offense is often in the eye of the beholder.  What one considers offensive another doesn’t.  These folks did!

At another time Matthew records this event, “Then Jesus called to the crowds and said, “Listen to what I say and try to understand:  You aren’t made unholy by eating non-kosher food! It is what you say and think that makes you unclean.”  The surprise is that the apostles sided with the crowd rather than Jesus.  “Then the disciples came and told him, ‘You offended the Pharisees by that remark.’” (Matthew 15:10-12 (TLB).

If the preacher is talking about someone else’s sin, we usually urge, “Preach On!”  When we recognize that the sin is ours, it’s time for him to “Move On!”  What did Jesus say that was so brutally ugly?  He mentioned what they ate wasn’t offensive, but what came out of their mouth could be.  Here was an audience that had refused to dine on catfish for sixteen hundred years being told it wasn’t what they ate that was offensive!  He rubbed it in by implying what they taught was.  What good, sound, faithful Christian wouldn’t be offended by such insinuations?  Since the apostles were defending the offended, they included themselves in that category.

It is not until later that Matthew informs us of a stinging denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees by Jesus (Matthew 23).  Just before this he had defeated every attempt on their part to destroy him with trick questions (Matthew 22).   Jesus did not surrender to the Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, scribes, or even his followers, but offered the truth to all.  Truth usually offends those who are uncomfortable in its presence.

When Paul was on trial and the offended Jews attempted to have him found guilty, his defense was, “I’ve done nothing wrong against the Jewish religion, or the Temple, or Caesar. Period.” (Acts 25:8 (Message).

Isn’t the same thing happening today?  Anything a Jesus believer does is offensive to someone.  The objections and ridicule heaped upon the Christian is categorized as non-offensive by the giver!  The Christian is offensive, because he is a Christian!  The world wants the Christian to keep his mouth shut and practice his faith behind his closed doors.  Their slogan is, “Out of sight, out of mind”!  If the Christian is offended by their language and demands, they think he is being “overly sensitive.”  Is it a sin for a Christian to defend himself?  Did Jesus?  Did Peter and John?  Did Stephen?  Did Paul?

A Christian must not present himself arrogantly.  He must not do so with false pride.  Jesus offended some, but his followers should not attempt to “out do him”!  Paul did command Timothy to, “Preach the word . . . rebuke, exhort . . .”  Jesus taught because he loved his students.  We are his followers!  Let us teach with the same spirit.