Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you?” (John 6:60-61)
Offense. That’s the “it” word this decade, it seems. I saw a cartoon the other day where a father was asking his son for ‘the magic word’ so his son could get what he wanted (a cookie). The cartoon had the son replying, “I’m offended.”
And, of course we laugh within ourselves because it’s true. If we want something to go our way, we take up an offense and demand others respect it. This can encompass everyday things such as manipulating our husbands to meet our needs to national things such as election talking points.
Jesus asked the angry disciples if they were offended by his hard teaching. What was His teaching? The verses preceding the above Scripture passage answers that question. In John 6, we see Jesus rejected by His own people. They were offended by this man who asserted Himself as the Son of God when they knew him as the son of Joseph, the common carpenter.
Further, Jesus caused offense by stating that everlasting life comes through eating His flesh and drinking His blood. That really stirred up the people! And, rightly so, if we’re honest. I mean, if your pastor said this on a Sunday morning I can imagine how we, too, might cringe or complain!
Jesus met their response with truth: Does this offend you? They were offended by His hard saying. They turned away. (For those who are reading and are unsure why Jesus would even say this, I encourage you to further read in the gospels of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.) What hard sayings from Jesus cause us to be offended, and perhaps turn away?
Here are a few to consider:
“but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15
“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10:37
“I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” 1 Corinthians 15:31
Be holy? Put God before our children? Take up a cross? Die to myself? These are hard teachings. Who can understand? And, if we are confused by these, God gives us more difficult teachings as He calls us to give up sexual immorality–plainly speaking, stop having sex with your boyfriend or girlfriend; homosexuality is sin; don’t listen to or watch things that even hint at sexual immorality. Have I offended you? You’re not alone (see the disciples who turned away in John 6).
Or, perhaps you feel above reproach in the sexual morality arena. But, have you forgiven that grudge? Have you loved that person who hurts your feelings? Have you reached out in genuine kindness and compassion without wanting to be noticed or have the favor returned? Have you died to yourself?
And, the cross itself is an offense. Jesus had to die for ME? I couldn’t just do enough good things to earn God’s favor? Oh, how we need the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts and change us to love what He loves and follow where He calls us.
Apart from Jesus, though, we can do nothing.
So, if this blog post offends you, welcome to the club. Yes, the words of our holy God are impossible…apart from Jesus. When we give up ourselves, our attempts to reason away God’s instructions, our offenses, our excuses, then we can cry out for help from our Savior. In Jesus, we can receive our Father’s compassionate words. In Jesus, we can die to our demands. In Jesus, we can follow. Because in Jesus, we have life!
Then Jesus said to the twelve [disciples], “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also, we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:67-69)
Amen. Jesus is the Son of the living God. Follow Him.