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.