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Does the Gospel Offend?
How are you Affected by the Teachings of Christ?
Scripture Reading - John 6: 60-61
"When many of his disciples heard it, they said, "This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?" But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, "Does this offend you?" John 6: 60-61
When you were in school, how did you react to something that you didn't understand? Did you try to dig deeper? Perhaps you questioned the reasons behind the teaching. You may have dismissed everything the teacher had to say. Now, stop and ask this question: "How do I react to the teachings of Christ?"
Think about past sermons and think about your reaction to them. I am sure that your pastor's words may have hit "a little too close to home." We have all had moments when the Gospel slaps us in the face causing us to evaluate our current worldviews: our current systems of belief.
When Jesus' disciples heard the teachings of their Rabbi, they were confused. Their confusion was understandable because Christ was speaking about subjects His disciples could not possibly understand until after His death and resurrection. The truth is that the disciples did not want to understand. They did not want to know the truth because they were not ready to accept these teachings.
It must have been confusing for the followers of Christ. After all, their vision of the Messiah was one of a conqueror. A hero that would destroy the enemies of Israel and restore Israel to a great and powerful nation. The disciples, however, were not expecting a man of peace and a man of love. They did not expect a man that would eat with outcasts and befriend those individuals that were considered marginal according to the law. The did not expect the Messiah to be a man that would allow himself to be put to death like a common criminal. However, Jesus was put on earth to do the very things the disciples did not expect. Christ died a shameful, horrible death. The manner in which Christ died was reserved for the worst criminals. It was a method of execution designed to humiliate and torture. The disciples and Jesus were not on the same page. In fact, the disciples were offended by the idea.
Are we offended by the teachings of Christ? How do we really feel when we are challenged to love our neighbor? How do we feel when we are confronted with Christ's words from the following portion from the fifth chapter of Matthew?
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[h]39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Do we find these words difficult? We still live in an "eye-for-an-eye" society. We find it difficult to "turn the other cheek." But, this is what Christ commands us to do. What about going the extra mile? In our society, we think of going the extra mile as something that is done for us in terms of how someone serves us. But, do we stop to understand that Christ is telling us to go the extra mile for others? He is telling us to give and to not turn away; and, for some, these words are offensive.
Are you one of the offended?