DayBreaks for 4/23/14 – The Offensive Jesus
Matthew 13:55-57 (KJV) – Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? 56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? 57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
In his book, The Freedom Revolution and the Churches, Robert Spike recalls an incident from the early years of the turbulent civil rights movement. Flying out of Jackson, Mississippi, Spike overheard the conversation of a Catholic sister, sitting across the aisle from him, with her seat companion. The sister was lamenting all the unrest in Mississippi, and she complained about the “outside agitators,” the students and church leaders who had come to her state in support of civil rights, certain that their presence was provoking violence on the part of white racists. “I do not question their dedication, nor even the rightness of their position,” said the sister. “But surely it is a bad thing to create turmoil by stirring up people who feel differently.” As the sister talks, all the while she is nervously fingering a cross hanging around her neck.
There’s a tragic irony in the sister’s words and actions, not unlike that of the very first Holy Week. For the one whose cross the sister holds most dear, Jesus, would never have taken the risk of going to Jerusalem and proclaiming a new way of living, would never have confronted comfortable patterns and ultimately endured the cross, had he followed the sister’s philosophy.
Jesus created turmoil. Sometimes turmoil is the fertile soil in which positive change and truth can take root. It seems that his true followers create turmoil, too…not in blatantly offensive ways, but just by the proclamation of the Truth that called himself a “stumbling block”.
When you stop to think about it, who did Jesus not offend during his life? He offended the religious. He offended his mother and brothers when he refused to see them. He offended kings and procurators. About the only people who weren’t offended by him were those who were broken…and knew they were broken. Sinners found him incredibly appealing because in him they found love and mercy and forgiveness. He loves the broken hearted, but offends nearly everyone else.
Sometimes I think that we are too eager to please everyone and afraid of “offending” anyone. Truth often hurts…especially when it is truth about ourselves.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, if I need to be offended by the truth you have to show me, please proceed! Help me to be more concerned about those in danger of eternal damnation so that I may boldly speak truth in your name, in love! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2014 by Galen C. Dalrymple.
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