“Whose the Offensive One?”
Text: Mark 6:1-6 (2 Cor. 12:7-10)
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
You may have seen in the news that Private Jessica
Lynch went home this week. She was the
injured prisoner of war in
But what if it had turned out a little different than that? What if, once given the microphone, Jessica had said a few different things? What if she had asked the people where their support for the war was before she, their hometown girl, got injured and captured? What if she called them hypocrites for jumping on the bandwagon now that the war was over? What if she questioned their patriotism and asked if all this wasn’t just a show for the TV cameras? The day would have turned out a bit differently, don’t you think? The people would have taken offense at her.
Now you know what happened that day in
So what did Jesus say that caused such offense? Mark does not record those words for us, but
from what we read in Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels, and from what we know of the
other preaching and teaching of Jesus, we pretty well know what He said. Repent, for the
And because of that message, the people took offense at Him.
Now be clear why the people took offense at Jesus. It probably was not because of what He claimed about Himself. If He had just talked about Himself, and that He was God and a Saviour, they could have dismissed that and dismissed Him as a lunatic, and they would have went home shaking their heads in sadness, not offense. No, it wasn’t the claims He made about Himself that offended the people, it was the claims He made on them. Calling them sinners. Calling them to repentance. He could have talked about Himself all He wanted, but once He started talking about them, and accusing them – that’s crossing the line!
And that’s the way it is in the church and in the
world today. Jesus, and the church, and
religion are all okay with most folks.
We can have a church and we can meet all we want and people won’t much
care. In fact, they may even like some
of the things the church does for the community in feeding and clothing the
poor and other service projects. And
some folks may even come and join a church.
As long as we leave them alone. As long as we don’t make
claims on them. But if we do,
that’s crossing the line. . . . You’ve heard people talk about this; you’ve heard the
phrases: Don’t force your morality on me.
Don’t force your truth on me.
Or one of my favorites, that I heard frequently
Did you hear that? I mean, did you hear it? We’re the ones who are offended? Us, the ones who offend God by sinning against Him? We’re offended, the ones who love the things of this world more than we love God? We’re offended, the ones who misuse God’s Name and don’t speak up for God because we’re afraid of what others are going to say and think about us? We’re offended, the ones who have God’s Word but neglect it and don’t even know what half of it says? We’re offended, the ones who rebel against our parents and other authorities – those God has put here for our good? We’re offended, the ones who abort our children, who want to put down older folks because they’re in the way, who hate and injure our neighbors and those we should be helping? We’re offended, the ones who have perverted God’s gift of sexuality and act more like animals? We’re offended, the ones who want more than God has given us and often do whatever it takes to get what we want, even at the expense of our neighbor? We’re offended, the ones who gossip and lie and like the think the worst about those around us? We’re offended, the ones who are jealous of others and think God is somehow being unfair with us? We’re offended?! Do we even hear how ridiculous we sound? We’re offended!? Who are really the offensive ones here? What kind of gall does it take to tell God, “God, don’t go there! You’re crossing the line. You’re not staying where you belong in my life!” I mean, really!
But, in a strange and twisted way, there is a truth
there: that God did cross the
line. The fact that He was there that
But in the person of Jesus Christ, God came and crossed that line with us. And if we say to God, God, don’t go there – because we don’t want our sin exposed, because we don’t want to admit our guilt and rebellion, because we just want to feel good about ourselves – then we are really saying that we want to go there by ourselves! But if we go there by ourselves, we will never come back. Our sin, our guilt, our punishment, our offense, our death and damnation will consume us. . . . But God came and crossed the line with us, to bring us back. He crossed the line into death so that in His resurrection from death to life, we too could rise again, and be born again to a new life. A new life with our sin and guilt forgiven. A new life with all the punishment against our sin already handed out. A new life with all of our offenses against God gone. A new life with our death and damnation defeated. A new life in Christ Jesus where, like the apostle Paul, we can boast of our weaknesses. Not that we boast in our sin and go on sinning and not care about what we do – no, that’s not who we are anymore in Christ Jesus. Rather, in weakness, we repent. We stop trying to do it ourselves. We stop relying on our own wisdom and strength. We stop taking offense at Jesus and instead live in Him and His Word. “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” In the weakness of repentance and faith, we are strong in the One who crossed the line from life into death, so that He could take us from death into life.
And that we might not take offense at Christ but
rather be found in Him is what we pray for every time we pray the Lord’s
Prayer. We must pray for it, for we
cannot do it ourselves. And so we pray Thy Kingdom come. What
does this mean? The
What happened in that synagogue in
In the Name of the Father, and of the (+) Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Now the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.