January 23

Blessed is He who is Not Offended

Matthew 11:4-6 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John [the Baptist] the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

John 6:60, 66 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard [what Jesus said about eating His flesh and drinking His blood], said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” … From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.

If you’re a serious believer, you will be tempted every so often to be offended with Jesus, His Word and what He asks of us. A believer who has never been offended or has been tempted to be offended is someone who is probably not making much spiritual progress.

When Jesus is quoted in Matthew 11 (above), what He says about not being offended is directed at the imprisoned John the Baptist. They are words of encouragement for John not to be stumbled by the circumstances in which he currently finds himself. Jesus quotes Isaiah 35 (“The blind see and the lame walk…”) and points to Himself as the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies there. Then he urges John not to “trip over/stumble over/be scandalized” by what was happening to him.

Those words are also directed at us. It’s easy to be offended by Jesus, or at least to be tempted to be so. But He commands a blessing over those who refuse to be offended. And if there is a blessing available from God that He is informing us of, then we should want it.

What could offend us? Well, anything that crosses our expectations. Perhaps John the Baptist thought that in “preparing the way” for the One who was going to usher in the Kingdom of God, he would never face prison. If so, he was wrong. How can we be surprised when we face hardships, when He’s told us that we would? If the world hates us, He said that it was because it hated Him before (John 15:18).

Then Matthew 16:24-25 says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

He doesn’t promise us a rose garden, though He has promised us victory. One victory is to never get or stay offended. This takes work, as God’s ways are not ours, His timing is not ours, and He answers prayer the way He wants to, not according to our narrow expectations. From a purely natural point of view, God can be confusing, confounding and downright exasperating. In those moments, we will either grow in faith and trust, pressing into what we know of His Word and the goodness of Jesus. Or we will allow ourselves, in our pride, to be offended, thereby initiating a spirit of bitterness and cutting off any new spiritual growth that the Lord wants to give us.

It’s a choice. We may be “hard-pressed on every side, yet [we are] not crushed; we [may be] perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (II Corinthians 4:8-10). Let’s choose to believe and trust, and not be offended.

Prayer: Father, help me to see how this works. I don’t want to be offended in You. But I confess that I get confused and confounded. Help me in those moments to trust You more and trust in my own thinking and feelings less.

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