Friday, July 8, 2011

The Offensiveness of the Gospel

10And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: 11Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.  12Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?  -Matthew 15:10-12 (KJV) 

When I was a college student I studied Hebrew under a professor who was a very kind and dear Jewish lady.  She was fluent in Hebrew and also practiced Orthodox Judaism.  One day before class we were having a conversation and I told her of a group of Christians I had read about who had observed a Passover meal.  She appeared to be offended and asked why in the world a group of Christians would observe a strictly Jewish observance.  I explained how for us the Passover represents Christ’s sacrifice for our sins.  I also explained how at the last supper Jesus shared a Passover meal with His disciples instructing them to “Take and eat, this is my body” (Matthew 26:26).  And the Lord then instructed them to drink the cup saying, “Drink all of it” (Matthew 26:27).   

As I explained this I realized she had never considered such an application to this observance.  As we witness for Jesus we will find ourselves facing situations in which our hearers and those to whom we minister we be offended.  The gospel itself is offensive in nature, for people are confronted with the hard truth of being sinners in need of salvation.  Some receive this news joyfully, others become offended at the notion, and some will even become downright angry with the news.  Being confronted with the terribly real possibility of spending eternity in hell is unsettling.  Our hope is those with whom we share the gospel will open their hearts and receive Christ as Savior.  

Jesus did not allow the fear of offending others to hinder Him in sharing the truth.  The Pharisees were deeply religious men who didn’t take kindly to being challenged on their beliefs, practices, and traditions.  Yet Jesus did not hold back in letting them know that while they held a head knowledge of God’s righteous requirements they had never experienced a true heart-changing experience with the Lord.  This, my friends, is what Jesus brings.  He moves us from head knowledge to a transformed heart.   

What Jesus does is change us from the inside out.  Through faith in Him we are thoroughly cleansed.  When the Scripture speaks of our justification it means we have now been justified in God’s sight.  We no longer stand condemned before God (Romans 8:1).  Instead we have been made fit to come into God’s holy presence.  This was done completely through Jesus Christ and His redemptive work upon the cross of Calvary.  Only Jesus Christ could accomplish this for us. 

As we witness we will inevitably offend people.  Respond with kindness, grace, mercy, and compassion.  Let the love of Jesus shine through to a lost and hurting world. 

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