When Jesus Offends You


I have seen it posted several times that this year would be the year of everyone being offended. Though it would seem there is some merit to this statement; it is certain that sometime in your life, God will offend you as well.

In the book of John, the bible seems to record Jesus offending people on every turn. In chapter five He heals a man who has been an invalid for thirty-eight years. The religious sect of Jerusalem was offended not by the healing, but because Jesus did this on the sacred and religious Sabbath day. When they accused Jesus of breaking the religious law of the day He responded by saying God was His Father and He was just doing the work of the Father. That added insult to injury. Not only did Jesus break the religious law of the Sabbath, now He was making Himself equal with God by calling Him Father.

After the continued discourse of chapter five, Jesus leaves Jerusalem and went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Here, Jesus feeds the crowd of five thousand people with five barley loaves and two fish. So far so good, until the people saw what had been done and they wanted to force Jesus to become their king. Their intent was for Him to lead a rebellion to overthrow the Roman oppression. Jesus knew this was coming and he withdrew to a mountain leaving the disciples to deal with the crowd. He also left instructions for the disciples to leave that night and go once again across the sea. Only this time the disciples were to go to Capernaum. In the night, Jesus came to the disciples as he walked upon the water.

The next morning the crowd calculated that there had only been one boat there the night before and that only the disciples had entered, not Jesus. However, when they could not find Jesus they elected to go across the sea and follow the disciples. By this time several other boats had come near the site of the miracle and the crowds got into these boats and went to Capernaum. You could imagine their surprise when they found Jesus with His disciples. There had to be some leaders in this crowd to move such a large contingency to the other side of the water. Mind you, I doubt it was all five thousand, but I’ll bet it was a pretty big group that went to Capernaum. And I will also wager that there were more than a few of the religious leadership among them.

The crowd began asking Jesus how he had gotten to the other side. With the attempt to make him king on the other side of the water still fresh in His mind, He ignored their question and challenged them. He plainly told them they were superficial in their devotion and only wanted what Jesus would give them. They should be doing the works of God, not looking for a miracle show with give-a-ways and door prizes. They asked Him what kind of works they should do. When He told them the works should start with believing in the one that God sent, these people asked what sign He would do so they may believe in Him. HELLO? They had just seen Him feed five thousand people on the other side of the sea. Really? Are you kidding?

The crowd began playing this kind of ping pong debate with Jesus over bread.

Crowd: “Hey, our fathers ate manna in the wilderness.”

Jesus: “Yeah, that bread came from my Father.”

Crowd: “Really, so give us an endless supply of this bread if He is Your Father.”

Jesus: “I am the Bread of Life. I came down from heaven and if you believe in Me you will have eternal life.”

Crowd: “Whoa! Wait a minute. Isn’t this guy the son of Joseph? We know your momma and daddy and you are saying this? Who do you think you are?”

While they were grumbling Jesus hits them again: “What’s the problem. It’s really very simple. I came from My Father in heaven who I have seen. Your fathers ate bread in the wilderness and died. If you eat the bread that comes from heaven you won’t die. I am the bread of life.”

Crowd: “How can you give us your flesh to eat?”

Jesus: “You got two options: eat my flesh and drink my blood, receive eternal life, and I will raise you up on the last day; or you can choose option B and die in your sins. It’s really up to you. ”

Jesus said all this in the church of the Jews in Capernaum. He was in public and telling folks the only way to get to heaven was through eating His flesh and drinking His blood. The followers of Jesus were standing nearby hearing this exchange and many were offended. They began to grumble along with the crowd. Jesus now challenges His disciples: “If you think this flesh eating/blood drinking thing is something; wait until you see me ascending back into heaven where I came from.” For many of His disciples, this was too much. They left and quit following Him. Why? Because they wanted the easy way out, just like the crowd.

Jesus turns to The Twelve and asks if they are going to leave also. Peter’s answer is priceless. “Where we gonna go? We are convinced that you are the only way to heaven. If that means somehow we have to eat your flesh and drink your blood. Well, we don’t really like that, but okay. We trust you.” These guys weren’t the only ones. The bible is full of these folks. Abraham was willing to kill his son Isaac. Moses was willing to face Pharaoh and be killed in the process. The three Hebrew children were willing to be thrown in a fire and the list goes on. By the way, later on, at the Last Supper, Jesus explains all of this flesh eating/blood drinking stuff more completely to the disciples in the upper room.

A few points are to be gleaned from this interchange. The most faithful would eat His flesh and drink His blood if that was what it took to follow Him. Jesus reserves the deepest secrets for the most faithful. God will test you and your level of devotion; usually more than once. Many were and are willing to die for Him, if that’s what it takes to follow Him. I mean they are willing to be stabbed, crucified upside down, flayed, boiled in oil, banished, lose everything they own, hanged, beaten, shot, burned at the stake, beheaded, lose their jobs, be ridiculed, and lose some friends. They were, and are, all in.

How dedicated are you? Are you all in? Even if you are asked to leave all your possessions, leave your family, tell your neighbors and friends about Jesus, be called names, and lose your prestige, your reputation, your job? Even when you offend your neighbors and friends or how about when God offends you? What would be your breaking point? Or would you be like the Old Testament saint Job who said God could slay him, still would he trust Him? If God stripped you of everything and then led you to be killed, would you still trust Him? It may happen one day. I pray those of us who name the name of Jesus would be so faithful.

When God Hides Himself

One of the hardest and probably my least favorite aspects of being a Christian is when I feel God is too hard on me. Now, really is there such a thing? No, not really, but we tend to think that He is. According to Dr. Chuck Swindoll, there are two reasons why God does what He does: to draw us closer to Him and to conform us to the likeness of His Son. Dr. David Jerimiah has said in reference to the time of his life when he battled cancer that he had hoped God would make him to be what he needed to be without all the struggle. No Christian gets off that easily. It’s a pruning and growing process.

There are times when we feel that God has treated us unfairly in relation to the life we are living. Job was a godly man and Satan had a field day with him. David was a man after God’s own heart and he often cried out for God’s justice on his enemies. Moses was a friend of God and his anger kept him out of the Promised Land. Abraham walked with God and didn’t see all the promises fulfilled in his lifetime. Surely these super-saints should have gotten a little more leeway.  There were times in each one of these men’s lives where God the Father was silent, absent, or just plain hid Himself from them. Even on the cross, Jesus, like David cried out, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?”

Jesus hid Himself from people too. Several times He hid Himself from his own disciples. He hid himself from the Pharisees and from the crowds; once when they tried to stone Him and once when they tried to make him king of Israel. Dr. James Dobson says that God will even go so far in hiding Himself that we will feel abandoned. It is at these times that we cry out “Where are you God?” or complain that “This is not fair.”

It all makes us ask why? If God is trying to make us more like His Son, which it would make us more like Him and/or He is trying to draw us closer to Him; isn’t there an easier way? Easier is not the issue, better is. If there was a better way, a more correct way, then God being God would have chosen that. There always seems to be an easier way out, but it is usually a cheaper result. God wants what is best, not what is the cheapest or the easiest. Part of the Christian walk is faith. When it seems that God is far away, silent, hidden, or has just plain abandoned us, we must have faith that He knows what is best, what He is doing, and He has not really abandoned us. Sometimes that is easier said than done and God knows this. Many people don’t like this answer and use it as a reason not to follow God or say it is a cop out. Just because we don’t like the truth, doesn’t make it any less true.

It starts with a relationship. If you don’t know God as your Father or Jesus as your Savior then what God does with your life is designed to draw you closer to Him. He wants a relationship with you. He cannot make you like Himself if you are not first part of the family of God. If you are part of His family then He works to make you more and more to become the part of the family that you were meant to be. Sometimes that may be accomplished by Him hiding from you.

I remember being a father when my children were small. When they tried things that were out of their comfort zone, they wanted me right there with them. I knew that being there all the time was not good for them. You have seen these types of parents. Lately, I have heard them referred to as helicopter parents. They are always hovering over their children and never letting their children grow into adults. There were times I purposely hid myself from my children, but I kept them within my sight. There were times they had to be independent and there were times they needed to know they couldn’t do things on their own. My children didn’t know it, but I did. Our children will never grow if we don’t step back and let them. We will never grow if God doesn’t do the same. Like my children, I don’t always like it when He does, but I have learned to trust Him.

There are times that God is weeding out the non-committed ones. Jesus did this by telling a large crowd in a public place if they wanted to get to heaven they would have to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Not exactly the best way to win friends and influence people. Actually he offended the people who walked away and stopped following Him. He wanted the committed ones; those who no matter what would follow Him. A little later on He allowed the disciples to battle a hurricane force storm in the Sea of Galilee for a while before He came to them and calmed the storm. He asked them where was their faith.

It would look like on the surface that Jesus and the Father both enjoy toying with people, but that is a superficial look. No, those who truly have walked with God any length and depth of time will still tell you that through it all, God is faithful and has always been there. They will tell you God has kept the promise to never abandon or forsake us, because their faith has been so tried and strengthened that they too, like Job can say of God “though He slay me, still I will trust Him.” Nowhere is it written that I have to enjoy the journey, nor do I have to like it, yet through it all I trust and love God because of it. Even when it seems God has hid Himself, He is still God and He still loves me.

There are two great books that explore this subject further: When God Doesn’t Make Sense by Dr. James Dobson and The Bend in the Road by Dr. David Jeremiah.

Of Church and State

So many times we hear it said the church and state must be separate. Actually, it goes more like “separation of church and state.” Often times these people who ascribe to this position are saying keep the church out of our government and lives. As we look around we can see how well that has worked over the years.

So many of these people quote this saying believing it to be part of our founding documents. Nothing could be further from the truth. I once heard someone base it on the First Amendment. It was obvious that the speaker didn’t actually know the First Amendment to the Constitution which reads:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Notice that the term “separation of church and state” is nowhere mentioned in the amendment. The term actually comes from a personal letter of Thomas Jefferson and in that letter he goes on to explain how the First Amendment was designed to keep the government out of the church, not the other way around. Thomas Jefferson also made the comment that it was good for a “little rebellion” every so often. I wonder if the separation of church and state people are advocating that as well.

Unfortunately, far too many Christians have bought into the lie that they are not to speak up or to speak out. They forget that this right is also guaranteed by the First Amendment. Good, free, and moral citizens not only have a right to speak out against injustices; it is a duty. For the Christian, it is a requisite. Micah 6:8 says for the people of God to “seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” It is time for American Christians to once again stand up, be counted, and be heard. There are several ways we can do this:

  1. Don’t just post some catchy phase, video, or article on Facebook. Write your congressman and senators, at the Federal and State level.
  2. Understand what is going on. Do your homework.
  3. Get educated. Read the founding documents like the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
  4. Vote.
  5. Get others involved as well.