Day 4: Does this offend you?
Jesus asked His disciples, “Does this offend you?”
What a powerful question.
There are whole parts of Jesus’ teaching that are offensive to us in our natural sensibilities. He was not hung on a cross because He walked around telling everyone to be nice to one another. People were offended by Him back then and the same is true today.
“Jesus, I don’t like what You have to say about picking up my cross. I don’t like that You say I am blessed when people mock me, persecute me and lie about me because I am Your follower. That offends me. I don’t feel blessed when that happens.”
“Jesus, I don’t like Your teachings on marriage or sexual ethics. They offend me. Jesus, I get the idea that we should not murder someone, but then You go and say don’t be angry? That’s offensive. And by the way, “eat Your flesh and drink Your blood”? That’s offensive too.”
Jesus answered that last protest by pointing out that those words were to be understood spiritually: “And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). But some could not hear and understand this. Not trusting His heart, they were suspicious of His words.
Sometimes we want Jesus to be an “unoffending Jesus”—a version of Jesus who agrees with everything we already think, likes what we already like, and wants us to do what we already wanted to do before we came to Him. But that Jesus is not the Jesus of reality. If you reduce Jesus to a cartoon who is not allowed to offend you, then be prepared that such a made-up version of Jesus won’t be able to save you either.
The sad reality is, not all who start out as followers of Jesus will stay followers of Jesus. But the Twelve stay with him, not because they are not offended but because they know that He alone has the words that give eternal life. Will you stay with Jesus when you are offended?
Prayer: Lord, not all of Your teachings are easy to understand or obey. Help me have the faith to stay with You even when I feel offended by Your words. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.