19 February 2010

I'm Offended - Part 2

Mark 14:26-27 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.

As Jesus neared the end of His public ministry and “the hour” for which He had come drew nigh, He often spoke to His disciples of His betrayal, His crucifixion, and His resurrection. And they never got it. They never understood what He was talking about.

In fact, on the eve of His crucifixion, right after leaving the table of the last supper, Jesus told these disciples they would be OFFENDED because of Him that very night.

Why did they not understand what Jesus was talking about when He spoke of the decease He would accomplish at Jerusalem (Luke 9:31)? Further, why was it an offence to them?

I submit to you that one of the reasons they didn’t understand, the reason they were offended, is the same reason that men and women today don’t understand and are offended by the preaching of the cross of Jesus Christ.

The disciples, who believed Jesus was the Son of God, and all the rest of nation who rejected Him, were both looking for a Messiah. And neither group was necessarily looking to be saved from their sin by His death on a cross; they thought that in some way this Messiah would save them from oppression (either from Rome or from the Jewish leadership) by His leadership and conquest. They were anticipating the kingdom of heaven (physical) but missed the fact that it would have to come through the kingdom of God (spiritual). And because they were looking for a political leader instead of a Savior, they didn’t really understand what would be accomplished by Jesus’ death.

The multitudes followed Jesus because He healed their sick and filled their bellies (John 6:26). That same multitude sought to make Him a King (John 6:15) and brought Him triumphantly into Jerusalem with shouts of Hosanna (John 12). But where was that multitude on the eve of His crucifixion? Offended. Why? Their focus was on what Jesus could do to make their lives better. The cross didn’t quite fit into that picture.

In like manner, men and women today are OK with the life of Jesus. They don’t mind His teachings (the ones they know about) or His example. In fact, in many ways they see that all those things can make their lives better. But when you talk about the death that Jesus died and the reason it was necessary, you’re insinuating that they have a spiritual problem and are hopeless without help from God. And the thought stings their conscience because they know it’s true.

The message of the cross of Jesus Christ is an offence to the carnally, temporally, physically minded individual, whether he’s a first-century Jew or a twenty-first century American. Let’s be faithful to preach that saving gospel in hopes that some will fall at the feet of the rock of offence and believe (Romans 9:33).

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