It seems like everyone is offended these days. Whether social media, talk shows, news programs or the print media, the self-appointed PC (politically correct) police are always on the lookout for someone to vilify over a slip of the tongue, or worse yet, a statement they disagree with.
So what does the Bible have to say about “offense”?
In John 6, Jesus is telling His followers a solemn truth:
“I am the living bread come down out of Heaven. If a man eats this bread, he shall live for ever. Moreover the bread which I will give is my flesh given for the life of the world.” (John 6:51 WNT)
How did the crowds react?
This led to an angry debate among the Jews. “How can this man,” they argued, “give us his flesh to eat?” (John 6:52 WNT)
Did Jesus apologize? No. He doubled-down:
“In most solemn truth I tell you,” said Jesus, “that unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no Life in you.” (John 6:53 WNT)
Even some of His disciples began grumbling among themselves.
But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?” (John 6:61 ESV)
Choosing to take up offense rather than embrace an uncomfortable Truth, many left Him.
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. (John 6:66 ESV)
As often as I have read this passage, I reasoned those who left Jesus did so because they were offended by the notion of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. As if the suggestion of cannibalism weren’t bad enough, there was also the Law of Moses concerning clean and unclean foods, drinking blood and touching dead human flesh, which would have presented another obstacle to eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood even if they could have gotten past the suggestion of cannibalism.
Certainly Jesus’ words were no more appealing to the twelve than they were to the Jews and disciples who left Him. So why did the many leave, while the twelve remained with Jesus?
There are 2 differences between those who left Jesus, and the twelve.
The twelve were drawn by God to Jesus. About that, Jesus said:
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (John 6:44 ESV)
“No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” (John 6:65 ESV)
“Did I not choose you, the Twelve?” (John 6:70 ESV)
The twelve had revelation from God concerning Jesus identity. About that, Peter said:
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69 ESV)
In fact, when Peter first confessed that Jesus was the Son of God, Jesus attributed Peter’s confession to revelation from God the Father, saying:
“Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17 ESV)
Concerning those who left Jesus, they were neither drawn by the Father to Jesus, nor did they have revelation from the Father about Jesus identity. They had simply followed their stomachs.
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” (John 6:26 ESV)
Apart from being drawn by God and receiving revelation from God, they were deaf to the spiritual truth Jesus conveyed and could only respond in the flesh with offense at Jesus.
“The spirit is the one restoring to life, the flesh does not benefit anyone; the sayings which I speak to you — it is spirit, and it is life.” (John 6:63 ABP)
Certainly those who left and the twelve were in the same boat, so to speak. All heard what Jesus said. All were born under and followed the Law of Moses. Yet the former took offense and left, while the latter did not take offense and remained. Can it be said then that the difference between being offended or not, amounts to whether someone is responding in the flesh or in the Spirit of revelation?
“Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (Luke 7:23 ESV)
If ever we are to enter into unity with Christ and thereby one another, we must learn to remain in Christ and resist the fleshly urge to take up offense with Him and one another. Offense separates us from Him, separates us from the Truth and from one another. Choosing to remain in Him, preserves unity and fellowship.
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32 ESV)
My prayer is for the Father to draw all people unto the Son and for myself the resolute will to offer up my body as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) through which the Son might reveal Himself to others in this vessel of His presence.
As for the perpetually offended in this world who assert themselves as the conscience of society through their vociferous objections to our freedoms, may they also come to know the peace and unity that comes only from revelation of the Son of God.
Why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? (1 Corinthians 10:29 ESV)
No, my liberty is determined by the Son of God.
Christ has freed us so that we may enjoy the benefits of freedom. Therefore, be firm in this freedom, and don’t become slaves again. (Galatians 5:1 GW)