They Took Offense

They Took Offense

He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. (Mark 6:1-3)

People were regularly offended by Jesus. It was not because He conducted himself in a way that was inappropriate. Jesus never behaved improperly. There was never a time where He failed to give to every man and woman what belonged to them. There has never been anyone in all of history as kind and considerate of others as Jesus was. There has never been anyone more interested in the welfare of others as Jesus was. His entire life was one of service to others. As Peter summed up his life, He went about doing good (Acts 10:38)

Yet, in spite of this, people were often offended by Him. Why?

The passage above gives us one answer: he had wisdom others lacked. His wisdom so far exceeded that of the teachers of His day—remember how we are told more than once that his teachings were astonishing or how he taught with authority, unlike the scribes—that they were not able to bear it. You might think that they would have been happy to receive one so wise, but the world just does not work that way. People seem to resent the wisdom of others.

His advantages in early life seemed to be few. You could hardly expect one with such wisdom to come from the position that His parents occupied. But He did. Not knowing that He came from God, the world could not give the answer. They either had to accept His wisdom regardless of His environment or pronounce Him mad. They refused to accept it.

Just before his death, Jesus told his disciples that even they would be offended because of Him. Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night; for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. (Mt 26:31 KJV) They were about to face the greatest test of their lives. For the past three years, they had Jesus with them to meet their problems. They would not have him anymore. That very night, their enemies would take their Master and kill him. They would not be satisfied with that, but would continue to be his followers. His disciples would not understand what was happening. He had taught them that this must happen, but they did not understand. They were still thinking of Messiah as a warlord who would overthrow the Romans. Thing were not working out exactly as they had expected to say the least. The world was suddenly, drastically changing for these men.

The prophet Isaiah predicted that Christ would be a rock of offense and a stone of stumbling (Is 8:14). Peter quotes that passage and adds, They stumble because they disobey the word (1 Pet 2:8) in talking about Jesus’ rejection by his people. They were not willing to bear it. To believe Christ was to discard their old law and accept Him. This would destroy their customs, rituals and preeminence. It would make the Gentile nations equal to them. They were not ready to give up all this, so they were offended.

The word “offended” in Scripture refers literally to a stumbling block or falling down. It does not mean, necessarily, that they became angry, though people often did. They were not willing to accept his teaching. It was more than they wanted. They stumbled because of it.

People are still offended by Jesus even inside the church. Some things he requires we would rather not have. He wants us to give our lives to him; often, we would rather give the devil a portion of our lives. The demands of the Lord press upon us and we are offended. It is not that we do not know what the Lord wants of us and expects of us. We are offended because we would rather have our own way. But Jesus provides no reward for having our own way; we are offended. We seem to want to accuse him of being harsh and demanding too much. Perhaps he is not aware of our position in life. When we really think about it, we know that the Lord has every right to expect much from us. But our spirit within us still rises up in rebellion; we stumble, we are offended.

We must understand: Jesus is our friend. More than a friend, He is our savior. What He did for us we are unable to describe. What He will do for us is beyond our comprehension. We have no right to become offended because of what He demands of us. We should love Him and long for opportunities to do what He wills. We should instead ask, “Lord, what more can we do for you?”


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