Offenses Will Come
When things don’t go our way, we can get a little “put out” with God. I remember feeling that way lying flat on my back in a Honduran hospital. Pain so acute, morphine became my best friend. I had fallen on rough terrain outside one of the village churches. We had spent the morning ministering to hundreds of children, assured we were the hands and feet of Jesus. It was wonderful obeying His call to serve others. Until I ended up with a broken hip! Did I deserve it? Hundreds of miles away from home, I cried out, “Why did this happen to me?”
When something happens that causes us to be hurt, angry, or upset, we take offense. If we’re not careful, resentment can wrap around our heart like an elastic band. We’re not just talking about humanity. The Bible describes several instances where people got offended with Jesus.
We read that John the Baptist was offended. He came to prepare the way for Christ but found himself in prison. He sent a message to Jesus from his cell asking if He was the Coming One…or if they should they look for another. Maybe John wondered why he ended up behind bars after declaring Jesus to be the Way. It’s interesting how Jesus responded. “Blessed are those who are not offended because of me.” When the Lord doesn’t prevent difficult circumstances, we might think we did something wrong. It’s our punishment. And that can lead to offense.
We read of other types of offense in scripture when people turned away from Jesus because of His strong teachings. This is one of those stories.
John 6:48-69 (NLT)
Yes, I am the bread of life! Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked.
So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.”
Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you?”At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.”
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT)
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
Romans 11:33-34 (NLT)
Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice?
1. Describe the difference between the manna God provided Israel in the wilderness with the Bread of Life.
2. What offensive statements of Jesus caused the Jews to become angry? What is the truth to which Jesus is alluding?
3. How does Peter respond when many of Jesus’ followers turn away from Him? Who does Peter know Jesus to be?
4. How does Isaiah 55:8-9 confirm that we might not always understand principles of the Kingdom of God?
5. What does the doxology in Romans 11:33-34 reveal about God’s ways?
Jewish law forbid drinking blood so those who listened to the message of Jesus were shocked. They got offended at His teachings and turned away from Him. Rather than embracing offense when biblical teachings are hard to understand (or life doesn’t seem fair), turn to the Lord for help. The Lord’s purposes are higher than ours. We don’t always understand His decisions or the way He works in our lives. Peter found the key. He knew there was no one else who possessed the words of life. Where else can we go? When we find Biblical principles too hard to swallow (or the events of our lives too hard to bear), we shouldn’t walk away from God. We should run into His arms. It’s there we’ll find everything we need. I know I sure did.