1 When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities. 2 Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” 4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: 5 the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT 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. 6 “And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”
Isn’t it interesting to note that after Jesus instructed His disciples and sent them out that He went to their towns to preach and teach? As we read in John 4:
44 For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country.
Jesus went to teach in the cities of the disciples knowing from experience that they would not be listened to. This is how the church needs to work together. As we grow in Christ, we want to be able to communicate salvation with our close friends and families. Maybe a few will be saved (if they need to be) but the majority of those close to us when God transforms us will not believe as a result of our own testimony. It’s heartbreaking, especially if you have gone into ministry as a pastor, church worker, or missionary. Jesus Himself was not received very well when He returned to Nazareth to preach the gospel, so why would we think we can do any better? He was actually mocked when He came preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God to those He grew up with. Jesus spent the majority of chapter 10 in Matthew explaining these hardships to His disciples and now He sent them out and He moved to work in their cities knowing it would not go well for them.
John the Baptist wanted to confirm what he had been hearing. This time that Jesus has been disrupting the religious scene, John had been imprisoned. When things look grim, we seek a sign of hope. John had undoubtedly been hearing things were going on but sent his followers to confirm. Their question to Jesus refers to the Messiah and Jesus’ response isn’t a simple “yes,” but a revelation of the signs and wonders that were said to be expected when Jesus appeared; John knew about these and had been expecting it himself. Can you imagine the look on John’s face when his disciples returned and told him the news? Yet Jesus added a peculiar statement as He finished addressing them: “blessed are those who are not offended by me.” It’s almost as though Jesus added another beatitude! But what does it mean?
Jesus was not at all the Messiah that most expected. He was born into a poor family, He spoke against the religious structure of the time, He did not do things according to some customs, He was not raised or taught as a Rabbi yet He still spoke with authority and power. Jesus offended a lot of people, but He also served and loved many more. The contempt that people had/have for Jesus is not for all the good that He does, but because His righteousness supersedes ours. Those who cling to their self-righteousness will be offended by Jesus. We have made ourselves our own gods and when we are confronted by Jesus, it is revealed to us that we are but sinners, regardless of our stature in society. These folks are the ones offended by Jesus. Yet, if we receive Jesus’ truth although it offends us and listen and obey what He says so as to transform our own lives, we will be blessed because in that moment we begin to grow in Him. We receive His word in truth and power and begin our journey in the Kingdom of God.
Are you offended by Christ? If so, what are you doing with that offense?