The teaching of Jesus is offensive! Don’t believe it? Am I speaking blasphemy? Listen to Jesus Himself. While He was in Capernaum, Jesus taught that His followers must (metaphorically, of course) eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have eternal life (John 6: 53,54). To the Jews this was a “hard saying” because literally doing so would have been repulsive to them, probably even more than it is to us today (John 6:60). After all, they knew the prohibition against such in the Law of Moses under which they lived (Lev. 17:10-14). However, “When Jesus knew in Himself that his disciples murmured at it, He said unto them, Doth this offend you?” (John 6:61).
Notice that Jesus, Himself, asked if His teaching offended (scandalized) His hearers (John 6:61). He did this not because He wanted to change His message so that people would not be offended but because He wanted them to understand what it took to follow Him. He even told them that there were some standing there that did not believe Him (John 6:64). Remember, these were not avowed enemies of Christ but professed followers, His disciples (John 6:61). It was because these people, the Lord’s own disciples, were offended, that “many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him” (John 6:66).
Incredibly, in our politically correct, upside down world today, the actions of Jesus, Himself, would be grounds for dismissal of many a preacher if he were to so conduct himself. In certain congregations, if a preacher spoke the truth on a subject and many in the congregation left, the preacher would be blamed for causing division. He would be condemned for his harsh and unloving attitude. In many circles today, if a preacher preached the truth unapologetically on controversial issues, he would be warned against it and then terminated if he persisted. Sadly, so many today in the Lord’s church are more afraid of offending sinners than they are of not pleasing God.
On another occasion Jesus’ disciples came to Him and said “Knowest Thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?” (Matt. 15:12). Jesus had spoken against the practice of substituting the commandments of men for the doctrine of God and He called the scribes and Pharisees, “hypocrites” and transgressors (Matt. 15:3,7). Apparently, our Lord was not as concerned that He would offend anyone as He was concerned about offending God. Alas, today it is not so.
Obviously, if a man or woman tries, like Diotrophes, to “prat against others with malicious words” (III John 9,10), or, if in disciplining someone that person is caused to be “swallowed up of overmuch sorrow” (II Cor. 2:6,7), then there is a problem of attitude. Let us always speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). But when the truth of God is stifled, when apologies are always made for speaking the revealed will of the Father, when psychology replaces book, chapter and verse preaching, when sugar and honey “sharing” replaces fire and brimstone preaching, when man’s opinions replace God’s revealed truths, when ecumenism replaces exposing error, then there is a deeper problem of allegiance to God in the heart.
What possible good can it do to dunk someone under water but then suffer them to be led away into doctrinal and moral error? What good does it do to add numbers to a “church roll” if the church is nothing but a social institution? Though few will accept it, it is nevertheless true: Jesus’ teaching offends many people, even some who profess to follow Him. Shall we change it or water it down to suit the devil? Is our mission to please the masses so that we can inflate numbers? Is our mission to save our church buildings or is to teach the truth and provide opportunities for souls to be saved? I had rather be a member of a despised congregation of seven faithful disciples of Christ than a member of a popular and “active” congregation of 7,000 that had no concept of the truth of the gospel.
When certain of the disciples at the synagogue in Capernaum were offended by the teaching of Jesus and choose to walk no more with Him, He turned to His twelve apostles and asked them a very simple question: Will ye also go away (John 6:67)? We need to answer that question for ourselves today. Are you offended at the teaching of Jesus? Will you walk no more with Him if it means standing for the right and opposing the wrong? Or, will you, like Peter, say, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
Eric L. Padgett