- Rick LoPresti
Jesus offfended people
God started the human race with one man – Adam (Gen 1-2). After Adam sinned, the world descended into chaos until God had to destroy it with a flood (Gen 6-9). God chose one man to start over with - Noah. After the flood man again fell into sin, and it led to judgment at the tower of Babel (Gen 11). Because of the confusion of languages at Babel, man spread abroad like God told him to, and God again chose one man to start something new – Abraham (Gen 12). God’s plan was to raise up a nation of righteous people which would show the rest of humanity what God wanted – the nation of Israel (Ex 19:5-6). Israel also failed its mission, so God raised up one man to start a new testament – Jesus Christ (Mt 26:28).
During the interval of approximately 450 years between the last book of the Old Testament (Malachi), and the first book of the New Testament (Matthew), there was a shift in the spiritual culture of Israel. In the Old Testament, Israel kept falling into worshipping the idols of the nations around them. God warned them that if they kept doing this, He would eventually allow the nations of the idols they chose to invade and conquer them since they had already yielded to them spiritually (Lev 26, Deut 28, 1Ki 8, 2Chr 7). The northern kingdom is Israel fell to the Assyrians (2Ki 17), and the southern kingdom of Judah fell to the Babylonians (2Ki 25). The Jews were either killed, dispersed into other lands, or left in the land. The prophet Ezekiel prophesied in person to the captives in Babylon, and by letter to the remnant left in Judah. He said 51 times that after the word of God was fulfilled about their situation that they would know that God is the Lord. This was fulfilled in that when during the 450 years between the Old and New Testaments there was a change in the culture of the Jews. They no longer worshipped the pagan idols of the nations. When Jesus came, He reproved many faults He found, but He never said anything about the Jews worshipping idols, which He no doubt would have.
However, they had gone from one extreme to the other. They were no longer backsliding in that way, but they were now so religious that they had become rigid, legalistic, and so focused on their outward performance of rituals, that they lost the spiritual meaning and heartfelt relationship with God which was the whole purpose of their religion (Mt 5, Mt 23). Jesus never rebuked the average sinner. He forgave the adulteress (Jn 8:1-11). He ate with publicans and sinners (Mt 9:10-11, Mt 11:19). He even said these people would go into the kingdom of God before the religious leaders (Mt 21:31-32). Some of them had already repented and been baptized by John (Lk 3:12, Lk 7:29). Jesus even reached the chief of the publicans named Zacchaeus (Lk 19:1-10). The publicans were especially hated by the Jews because they collected taxes for the Romans. They were seen as traitors. He allowed a woman with a bad reputation come and worship at His feet and even touch Him (Lk 7:36-39). The Pharisee who had invited Jesus to dinner criticized Him for it. This was right after the passage about the sinners responding to the preaching of John and the religious leaders rejecting it.
Jesus did not go out of His way to be insulting, rude, or offensive; but He did come to deal with sin (Jn 7:7). It was not that He was trying to be offensive. It was that people were offended by the truth because they chose their sin over repentance (Jn 3:19-21, Jn 12:35-50). They chose to justify their superficial, hypocritical lifestyle rather than acknowledge their own Messiah. If Jesus came back today in the same manner He came the first time, He would be treated the same. The world would reject Him and kill Him again. There is nothing that can be done for people who find the truth offensive unless they humble themselves and repent.
Today we live in a society that is bent on eliminating the “offensiveness” of the truth. The truth is supposed to offend us when we are in error. That is how we become aware that we are mistaken. The world is claiming that it loves people more than God does. It says God is offensive, and they are the true compassionate ones. They say Christians are full of hate, and they are the ones who truly love their fellow man. They say they are the tolerant ones, and Christians are not. Their hypocrisy is exposed like the Pharisees’ was when they tolerate everything no matter how evil except for Christianity. They demand Christians tolerate them, but they refuse to return the favor. This is manifested even in earthly issues. Some people are so emotionally driven, that when their position is challenged with facts, they lash out with false accusations, hatred, ignorance, prejudice, emotional outbursts of rage and even violence. They blame others for the very things they are doing themselves, and then play the blame-shifting game. This is what people become when they reject the truth because it convicts them of sin. When people choose to justify what God clearly calls an abomination in a vain attempt to dodge the truth and even their own conscience so they can avoid conviction of sin, then instead of being offended by evil, even their own, they are offended by truth and righteousness. “An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked (Prov 29:27).” We are witnessing a vain attempt by the world to redefine even the most basic values to avoid what they call “offense”. “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight (Is 5:20-21)!”
This is how Jesus becomes offensive to people. Instead of being the foundation stone of truth to build their lives on, He becomes to them the “stone of stumbling and a rock of offence (Is 8:14, Rom 9:33, 1Pet 2:8), thus fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah. “And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed (Is 6:9-10).” Jesus quoted this prophecy about the religious people in His day (Mt 13:14-15, Jn 12:37-41). So did Paul (Acts 28:25-28). This not God’s choice. It is theirs. He merely honors their choice to harden their hearts like He did for Pharaoh (Ex 3-14), and for Israel (Num 13-14, Heb 3-4). People need to be very careful because these are the most dangerous choices they can make. Choosing to sin is dangerous enough on its own, because we can be lost for eternity, but when we choose to find the truth offensive, we cut ourselves off from the path back to God; and then even God Himself cannot help us until we choose to repent. There is a place where we can harden ourselves against the truth to the point of no return. This is not the will of God, and He is very gracious to forgive; but we must be careful.
Christians are not exempt from this danger. Even people who have been filled with the Spirit of truth can be deceived (Mt 24:24). It is sad to see Christians parroting false teaching without properly doing the research before they do so (1Jn 4:1-3). This can be religious teaching or even taking a position on a political or societal issue. It is shocking to see people who claim to be people of truth posting or sharing information on social media that is contrary to the scriptures and/or contrary to the facts, and even condemning those who would dare point it out as those who are divisive and insensitive. I don’t know what Bible they are reading, and which Jesus they are claiming to represent, but they should pay attention to the way He talked to people before judging others. He called the religious leaders poisonous snakes (Mt 12:34, Mt 23:33). He called a political leader a fox, and was not complimenting his appearance (Lk 13:32). He even called out His own disciples, sometimes right in front of everybody (Mt 15:15-16). He even looked right at Peter and spoke to Satan (Mt 16:23). They should read the writings of the prophets and apostles and see the way they spoke. There was recently a big uproar over violent, murdering gang members being called animals. The Bible repeatedly calls evil people animals. People promote an offenseless gospel, but this is impossible. We talk about making people comfortable and avoiding offense. Sometimes people need to be made uncomfortable so they can face the truth. Sometimes people use unity as a guise for avoiding the rejection of men. God values unity (Prov 6:16-19, Jn 17), but not at the expense of truth. Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me (Mt 10:32-37).” If we value our relationships with others more than our relationship with God, we lose our relationship with God, and our relationships with others become tainted and will eventually be lost as well.
We must use wisdom. That is the principal thing (Prov 4:7). We must speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). We must have the right motive and attitude (1Cor 4:21, 2Cor 10:1, Gal 6:1, 2Tim 2:25, 1Pet 3:15). We must also know when it is time to move on and end the discussion with those who do not want to hear (Prov 26:4, Mt 7:6). Yet we must also take a stand and not be silent. The church will never be politically correct, so we might as well not even try. The truth will never be relevant to the world. The truth is only relevant to those who come out of the lies the world is deceived by. It is shocking to see how a whole list of facts can be presented to some people and they just gloss right over it. “Don’t confuse me with the facts. I want to believe what I believe.” The world is going to hell with its fingers stuck in its ears. There is not a lack of truth. There is a lack of heeding it. God always sees to it that the truth is available. It is up to us to embrace it. Christians ought not to be offensive just to be offensive, but neither must we tip-tow around trying to coddle everyone lest they get offended. That will not produce what God intended in anyone. Let’s stop using offense as an excuse to avoid the truth. The truth will make us free (Jn 8:32).