Not Being Offended in God

Luke 7:19-23

And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus,saying, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”
20 When the men had come to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’” 21 And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight.
22 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. 23 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

If we recall from the first chapter of John, John the Baptist came before Jesus to prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry by bringing the masses to repentance. When John first saw Jesus, he said “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). And further… “John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”” (John 1:32-34)

John was convinced of Jesus. His destiny to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah was prophesied. He had spent his entire life, even from before his birth, filled with the Spirit of God (Luke 1:5-17). John had seen and knew who Jesus was.

And then the trouble came.

When John sent messengers to Jesus to ask, “Are you the Coming One, or do we look for another?”, he was asking from a prison cell. John had spoken against Herod regarding his marrying his brother Philip’s wife, and Herod’s new wife wanted to have John killed. Herod feared John because he knew John was a holy man, and attempted to protect him by placing him in prison. Ultimately, his new wife got her way, and used trickery and seduction to have John beheaded (See Mark 6:14-29).

So here John was, faithfully serving God, being inspired by the Spirit of God who had always been with him, and when Jesus finally arrives on the scene, John winds up in prison. We must put ourselves into John’s position here. How would we react? John may have thought the following:

All my life I’ve been different. I had this calling to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah. I saw Him myself! I saw the Spirit descend on Him like a dove. I even baptized Him! He was supposed to be the one to bring God’s Kingdom on Earth. But… here I am, stuck in prison because I did what God had me do.

And so John asked, “are you the one?” He had been so sure, I’m sure excited, fully knowing that Jesus was the Christ sent by God. And now when trouble comes he asks, “are you the one?”

And isn’t it the same with us? Even though the Spirit of God was with John, and had always been with John, like us, John was still a mere man. Mere men doubt. Mere men expect God to do things that God isn’t going to do. Mere men get confused. Mere men only know in part, as if looking in a mirror – dimly (see 1 Corinthians 13:12). Clearly by his question, John was faced with the realization that his expectations weren’t being met. He wasn’t even sure if Jesus was the One anymore. So when Jesus is sending message back to John, pointing out all the miracles which are being done (Not for John, but for others, remember), He adds, “And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” (Luke 7:23). Jesus was saying: Just because you’re in prison, John… don’t be offended because of Me. Just because things aren’t working out the way you expect… don’t be offended because of Me. And we must remember the same… no matter what is happening, or not happening in our lives, we must not allow ourselves to be offended at God. We must guard our hearts in this. We will be blessed for it.

I also find it interesting how Jesus answers John. He doesn’t say “yes, I am the One.” Instead, He simply points to the miracles, and leaves it up to John. John already knew works were being done by Jesus. He had been told about them by his disciples (See Luke 7: 18). John also knew the scripture enough to know that the miracles were fulfilling the prophecies of the coming Messiah (See Isaiah 35:4-6). Jesus simply reminded John of the Word. Jesus would use a similar tactic later as well, stating to His disciples, “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves” (John 14:11). The works of Jesus speak to who He is. Do our works do the same?

Continuing in Luke 7, we see that Jesus speaks very highly of John – after John’s messengers had departed. But He did not go to John, and John was never rescued from his prison cell. Ultimately, he was beheaded.

We live in a society which often only wants a “feel good” message of the Gospel. And the Gospel is a feel good message. It is, however, so often so much more. And in those confusing times of “more” we must be sure our focus is true, and like Paul, we must know how to be both abased and how to abound (see Philippians 4:11-13).

Jesus said we are blessed if we don’t allow ourselves to become offended in Him.

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