Does Suffering Offend You?

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses thirty-one through fifty-six of the twenty-sixth chapter. ”Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again. I will go before you into Galilee” (Matthew 26:31-32). ALL YE SHALL BE OFFENDED BECAUES OF ME THIS NIGHT! I WILL SMITE THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP OF THE FLOCK SHALL BE SCATTERED ABROAD! “Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples” (Matthew 26:33-35). THOUGH ALL MEN SHALL BE OFFENDED BECAUSE OF THEE, YET WILL I NEVER BE OFFENDED! ALL YE SHALL BE OFFENDED! ALL YE SHALL BE OFFENDED BECAUSE OF ME! THOUGH ALL MEN SHALL E OFFENDED BECAUSE OF THEE! YET WILL I NEVER BE OFFENDED! THOU SHALT DENY ME THRICE! THOUGH I SHOULD DIE WITH THEE, YET WILL I NOT DENY THEE! LIKEWISE ALSO SAID ALL THE DISCIPLES!

            “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will e done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed unto the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me” (Matthew 26:36-46).

            “And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hall, master; and kissed him. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scripture be fulfilled, that thus it must be IN that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye lad no hold on me. But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled” (Matthew 26:47-56).

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the beginning of the suffering Jesus was face within this life in the flesh He willingly and deliberately chose to take upon Himself. As I sit here this morning I can’t help but think about the fact that when Jesus suffered—not only did He suffer within and upon the earth, but Jesus also suffered “in the flesh.” We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how incredibly powerful this truly was, for when we think about the suffering which Jesus walked through we must needs realize and understand that it did not take place in the divine and supernatural realm, but rather in the physical and natural realm. Jesus was indeed one hundred percent God, however, we must needs realize that He was also one hundred percent man—and not only one hundred percent man, but also one hundred percent in the flesh. We cannot afford to miss and lose sight of this reality, for Jesus could have come into the earth as one hundred percent God, and one hundred percent divine, and He could have potentially been offered as a sacrifice in that manner and after those means. What we must needs realize and understand is that it was entirely necessary that Jesus come in the flesh, for not only would He “in the flesh suffer,” but it would also be in the flesh in which He would experience a very real death. It is absolutely necessary that we understand and consider the fact that when Jesus came into this world as the Word made flesh—that word was the Word which was in the beginning with God, and that Word was God in the beginning. This divine and eternal Word took on the form of human flesh and walked among us—first for thirty years in obscurity, and then for three and a half years being publicly manifested by the eternal and living God who sits upon the throne. For three and a half years the Word took on the form of human flesh and walked among us until eventually the time would come when the Word would need to face, experience and endure suffering in the flesh.

            I sit here today thinking about and consider the narrative that is found in this particular portion of Scripture and I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with the words and language that is found within this passage. It is as you begin reading this passage of Scripture you will find Jesus emphatically declaring—and not only declaring, but also prophesying and proclaiming how all the disciples would be offended because of Him on that night. Having just participated in the Last Supper with Jesus in the upper room, the disciples would now hear how all of them would become offended because of Jesus. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely incredible this truly is when you take the time to truly think about it. We dare not and must not take and treat lightly these words which were spoken by Jesus, for these words call and bring us face to face with the tremendous truth that not only would Jesus begin to suffer in the flesh, but each of those disciples who had walked with Him for three and a half years would be offended because of Him. We already know that one of the disciples had conspired together with religion that he might betray Jesus into their hands, and yet now we find Jesus speaking unto the disciples and declaring that they would all become offended because of Him. What’s more, is I would not only dare say the disciples would be offended because of Jesus, but all the disciples would become offended by and with Jesus. The disciples would themselves be offended because of Jesus that night—and that offense would come as a direct result of the suffering Jesus would face and experience in the garden of Gethsemane. It’s interesting and worth noting that Jesus did not speak of, nor did He reveal how the disciples would be offended because of Him—only that they would be offended because of Him. The only words Jesus spoke unto the disciples on this particular night prior to entering into the garden was that all of them would be offended because of Him—and not only would they be offended, but they would be offended because of what was written in the words and language of the prophets: “I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.”

            This reality and concept of the disciples being offended because of Jesus is actually quite remarkable and quite astounding when you take the time to think about it in terms of John the Baptist—and not only John the Baptist, but also those disciples who turned back and walked no more with Jesus because they were offended with and by the words which He had spoken unto them. What’s more, is that these words are in direct alignment with the words which Jesus spoke at the mount of Olives when He sat down and spoke to His disciples concerning the Last Days. It is absolutely necessary that we think about and consider this language of offense that is found within this passage of Scripture, for it calls and draws our attention to that which can cause us to be offended with, by and because of Jesus the Christ. We dare not and must not quickly move past the opening words which are found in this passage of Scripture, for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and powerful truth that is found around the narrative of being offended because of Jesus. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this language of offense and being offended with, by and because of Jesus, for it is a theme that is found within Scripture. What we must needs realize and understand is that there were certain and specific examples found within Scripture concerning those who were offended by Jesus—from the Pharisees who were offended because of His words, many disciples who were offended because of His words, and on this night those eleven disciples who walked with Jesus for three and a half years who would be offended because of Him. It is truly something astonishing and worth thinking about and considering when reading this particular passage, for we also find this language of being offended with and because of Jesus the Christ in the narrative of John the Baptist when he himself would be imprisoned by Herod. It is as you read the words which are found within this particular gospel narrative that would will find and discover how John the Baptist was imprisoned—not because he preached a gospel of repentance, nor because he baptized men and women in the waters of Judaea, nor because he called the scribes and Pharisees a generation of vipers, nor because he proclaimed unto those who had come unto him that which the LORD required. Scripture reveals how John the Baptist was imprisoned because he dared rebuke and speak out against the government of that day—and not only the government, but speaking out against the immorality, the adultery and the wickedness of Herod having his brother Philip’s wife.

            As you read the words which are found within the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find specific examples of those who would and those could be offended because of and by the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot read the gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous narrative of those who were offended with, and those who were offended by the LORD Jesus Christ. What’s more, is that not only will you find those who were offended because of the LORD Jesus Christ, but you will find Jesus speaking of a time that would come when many would be offended because of persecution which would rise up in the midst of the earth for the sake of the word of the kingdom. Not only this, but within this gospel narrative you will find the apostle Matthew writing and speaking of the words Jesus spoke unto John the Baptist who while in prison would send two of his disciples unto the Lord Jesus inquiring as to whether or not He was the Messiah, or whether they should look for another. Oh we must needs pay close and careful attention to each of these passages of Scripture—and not only these passages, but also that which is found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John—for these passages bring us face to face with the tremendous possibility of being offended with and by Jesus. What makes this all the more intriguing is when you think about and consider the fact that there would be those who would be offended because of the words which Jesus spoke, there would be that one who could be offended because of the suffering he was walking through, and there would be those who would be offended because of the suffering and persecution they would experience. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words and passages which are found within these New Testament gospel narratives written by the gospel authors:

            “And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding His twelve disciples, He departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto Him, Art thou He that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf year, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me” (Matthew 11:1-6).

            “And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things. And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? Or look we for another? When the men were come unto him, they said, John the Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? OR look we for another? And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the dear hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me” (Luke 7:18-23).

            “…But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended” (Matthew 13:20-21).

            “And He called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Then came His disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But He answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:10-14).

            “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations: and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:9-14).

            “The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? Hos is it then that he saith, I come down from heaven. Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. NO man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believed on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh,a nd drinketh  my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? IT is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some odf you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve” (John 6:41-71).

            With these words we are brought face to face with and confronted with two distinct groups of individuals who were each offended with, by and because of Jesus—namely, the Pharisees and even many who walked with Jesus as disciples and followers. It is quite intriguing and captivating when reading the words found in these chapters and passages of Scripture that it was not only possible for religion itself to be offended by Jesus because of the words which He proclaimed, but it was also possible for those who walked with Jesus to be offended. Oh we must pay careful and close attention to this, for it calls and draws our attention to the incredibly awesome and powerful truth that it is not only possible for religion to be offended by and because of Jesus, but it is also possible for those who walk with and follow Jesus to be offended because of Jesus. This is something truly astonishing and intriguing when you take the time to think about it, for when we think about and speak of offense and being offended with Jesus we must needs realize and understand that being offended with and by Jesus the Christ not only touches religion and those who are religious among us, but it can also touch those who have walked with and followed Jesus. In all reality, that which we find within the gospels are two different types of people, and two different groups of people who were offended with and by Jesus—and not two different types of people who were and would be offended, but also two different reasons for being offended with Jesus. As we read the words which are found within the New Testament gospel narratives which were written by the apostles Matthew and John, as well as the beloved physician Luke, we find that there were those who were offended with Jesus because of the words which He had spoken—words which they found incredibly difficult to hear, to listen to and bear. Even when we are speaking about this we must needs realize and understand that one group was offended because of the words which Jesus spoke concerning them, while the other group was offended because of the words which Jesus spoke concerning Himself.

            I happen to find this to be truly intriguing and captivating when you take the time to think about and consider it, for it is truly something worth thinking about and considering how it is not only possible to be offended by Jesus because of the words which he had spoken concerning Himself, but it is also possible to be offended by Jesus because of the words which He had spoken concerning us. There is within the sixth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John a powerful picture of those who were offended with Jesus because of the words which He had spoken concerning Himself—namely, that He was the bread which had come down from heaven. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus declare and speak of Himself as the Bread which came down from heaven, but He would also invite those who heard and listened to Him speak to eat of His flesh and drink of His blood. Of course we know that Jesus wasn’t speaking these words in the physical and natural sense, but rather in the spiritual sense as we would later see in the sense of the bread which represented His body which was broken, and the fruit of the vine which would represent His blood which would be shed for the remission of sins. Those who had walked with Jesus would indeed become offended because of the words which He had spoken, and as a direct result of their being offended they would turn back and no longer walk with Jesus. The scribes and Pharisees’ offense would be entirely and altogether different, however, for their offense would not come from the place of walking with and following Jesus, but rather from a place of actually strongly opposing and vehemently rejecting Jesus the Christ. This is truly something unique and worth thinking about, for it is one thing to walk with Jesus and follow Him and be offended because of the words which He spoke, while it is something else entirely and altogether different to be offended with Jesus having not walked with Him. The scribes and Pharisees would regularly and consistently be offended with Jesus—and not only because of the words which He would speak, but also because of His actions, which they viewed as not only violating their traditions, but also the Law of Moses.

            It is quite remarkable to think about and consider the fact that there were those who would be offended with Jesus because of the words which He spoke concerning Himself, for His words would—in their hearts and minds—be incredibly difficult to bear. There would be others, however, who would be offended—not only because of the words which Jesus spoke, but also because of His actions, His deeds and His works, which they would view as a direct affront and violation to the traditions of the elders. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely wonderful and incredible it truly is, for it brings us face to face with one of the root causes of being offended with and because of Jesus—namely, because of the words which He spoke and the words which He speaks. It is possible to be offended with Jesus because of the words which He speaks concerning Himself, for we find those words and those declarations to be incredibly difficult to handle and bear. With this being said—it is also true to be offended with Jesus because of the words which He speaks concerning us. Oh as I write these words I can’t help but think about and consider whether or not you have ever been offended with Jesus because of the words which He has spoken concerning you? Have there been times within your life when Jesus has spoken unto and within your heart concerning those things which need dramatic transformation, and you could not handle and bear the words which He spoke unto you? Have there been times when you have read the Word of God and as you have read it your flesh has been tremendously offended with and by the words which you have read? What’s more—the question I find myself asking even more is are you even able to offended with and by the words which Jesus spoke concerning you? Please note that I what I am speaking of when I write these words is not necessarily Jesus deliberately seeking to be offensive, but rather His bringing conviction to our hearts. The Pharisees were offended with and by Jesus because they could not handle the conviction that centered upon the words which He had spoken unto and concerning them.

            DOES CONVICTION OFFEND YOU? As I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found within the gospel narratives I find myself encountering and coming face to face with the strong and powerful question of whether or not conviction offends us. Please note that what I mean by this is the truth of conviction offending us because we cannot handle it when conviction is brought to our hearts because there is something in us that offends the holiness, the righteousness, and the character and nature of the living God. The scribes and Pharisees were those who were unteachable, and were those who could not be convicted by the Lord Jesus Christ, and as a direct result of this they found themselves being offended with and by the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who turned back and chose to walk no more with Jesus weren’t necessarily offended on the basis of conviction, but rather on the basis of familiarity with Jesus. If and as you read the words which are found in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle John you will find that those who were offended with Jesus were not only offended because of the words which He had spoken, but also because they were familiar with Him. They were familiar with Jesus and knew Him as the son of Joseph, and as such they could not handle, nor could they understand the words which Jesus had spoken unto them. The scribes and the Pharisees were offended on the basis of conviction and being unable to handle the conviction of Jesus, and those who walked with and followed Jesus were offended because of familiarity and because they could not handle the words which Jesus had spoken concerning Himself. Oh it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand both of these scenarios, for two of the greatest, and two of the leading causes of our being offended with and by the Lord Jesus Christ is because of familiarity and conviction. We can and may very well find ourselves being offended with and by the Lord Jesus Christ because we cannot handle the conviction His words bring into our hearts and our minds, and we find ourselves being offended with Jesus because our familiarity with Him affords and allows Him no room to be divine, eternal and who He truly is. What’s more, is that this second offense is incredibly dangerous because it brings us to the place where we are unable to accept the invitation(s) Jesus offers unto and affords us within this life—invitations to come unto Him and to partake of His divine nature.

            With all of this being said, it is absolutely necessary that we transition to a second type of offense that can be found with and by the Lord Jesus. As you read the gospel narratives you will find specific examples of religion and relationship being offended with Jesus, and yet there is a secondary type of offense that can be found within the heart and spirit of that man and/or woman who walks with and follows the Lord Jesus Christ. This second type of offense is one that arises—not necessarily because of the words which Jesus spoke, nor even because of the Word itself, but rather because of that which is produced because of the Word. As you read the gospel narratives which are found within the New Testament you will find that there is a second type of offense—one which Jesus emphatically describes as one that is going to be entirely and altogether prevalent in the Last Days. This secondary type of offense is first mentioned and first alluded to in the parable of the seed and the four different types of grounds, for one of the grounds upon which the seed was sown would be the stony ground. It would be this stony ground that would represent those who heard the word of the kingdom and received it with joy. Despite, however, the fact they received it with joy they would have no root within themselves, and the word would not find lodging within their hearts and their minds. As a direct result of the word not finding root within their hearts—when persecution arises because of the word, they are by and large offended. When suffering, when affliction, when opposition, when persecution arises because of the word these individuals are offended within their hearts and their spirits—and not only offended because of what the word produced within their hearts and lives, but because of what the word would indeed call them into which they themselves weren’t ready for, or perhaps did not even desire.

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found within the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, nor even the words which are found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the same gospel, for that which is found within these passages brings us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth of offense arising within our hearts because of that which the Word produces within our lives. Oh there are a number of men and women who would like to think that the Word cannot and will not produce any type of suffering, nor any type of affliction within their lives, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case. If there is one thing Scripture reveals and points to it’s that it is very possible and highly likely that persecution and suffering can indeed and can in fact arise because of the word and its presence within our hearts and lives. This is what is so absolutely critical when reading the narrative surrounding John the Baptist, for John the Baptist was a man who was able to preach repentance before and unto all those who would come unto him, and was able to freely baptize in the waters of the Jordan River. John the Baptist was—for an appointed period of time—able to freely move about within the wilderness of Judaea, and around the area of the Jordan River as he declared the kingdom of heaven was at hand, and as he not only called men and women unto repentance, but also invited men and women to be baptized for and unto the remission of their sins. For a period of time John the Baptist would be able to freely move within and upon the earth without any opposition and without any affliction or persecution—that was until he dared rebuke the government of that day. Scripture reveals how John the Baptist rebuked Herod for taking and having his brother Philip’s wife, and how Herodias harbored a quarrel, a grudge and an offense within her heart. If it were up to Herodias she would have had John the Baptist immediately killed, however, Herod would choose to have John imprisoned rather than killing him. Scripture reveals how Herod feared the people because they revered and considered John to be a prophet among them. Although Herodias would have had John the Baptist killed, Herod would choose to have him imprisoned—and might very well have kept John in prison for the rest of his life. Scripture is entirely unclear as to Herod’s intentions for imprisoning John and whether or not he imprisoned him for a short period of time to appease Herodias, or whether he imprisoned John with the express intention of keeping John in prison for the rest of his life.

            I sit here today thinking about this narrative which was written concerning John the Baptist and I can’t help but encounter and come face to face with the tremendous and powerful truth concerning a wonderful and powerful invitation Jesus gave unto John while in prison. It would be while John was in prison that he would hear of all the wonderful and mighty works Jesus would perform among men within the earth, and as a direct result of his hearing of those works he sought to send one of his disciples unto Jesus to ask and inquire whether or not Jesus was the Christ, or if they should look for another. When these disciples of John would come unto Jesus—not only would Jesus work great works and miracles before them in their sight, but He would also send them back unto John declaring what great things they had heard and seen. Not only this, but Jesus would also send these disciples back to John with an additional word and message which needed to be heard by him there in that dark and cold prison cell. The word which Jesus sent these disciples back to John the Baptist with was one of blessing for those who were not offended in Him. Oh these words which Jesus spoke unto John the Baptist were incredibly powerful words which invited John into a place where he would not be offended with and by Jesus—namely and mainly because he found himself experiencing persecution and suffering in this life. Jesus knew that John was in prison, and yet Scripture does not indicate Jesus ever came to visit John there in that prison cell. Jesus heard that Herod had put John in prison, and upon hearing it He withdrew Himself into a different place that He might work the work of the kingdom of heaven. Eventually and ultimately the disciples of John would come unto Jesus with a very pointed and direct question from John—this one who not only saw the heavens open unto Jesus, and not only saw the Spirit descend upon Him in the bodily form of a dove, but also heard the voice of the Father proclaim and declare that this was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this, for this John the Baptist was also that one who would declare unto His disciples, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

            This narrative surrounding John the Baptist is one which we must needs realize and understand, for this narrative—together with the narrative of the disciples in the garden of Gethsemane—brings us face to face with the tremendous truth of men and women who can and who will be offended because of Jesus. What’s more, is that these passages not only bring us face to face with the reality of those who are offended because of Jesus, but also those who offended when persecution, when suffering, when opposition, and when affliction arises because of the Word. When speaking unto John the Baptist there in prison Jesus declared that those who were not offended in Him were blessed—even when persecution and suffering arises because of the Word. When delivering the parable of the seed and the soil Jesus spoke of those who had no root within themselves, and those who would be offended when persecution, when suffering, when affliction and when opposition arises because of the Word. What’s more, is that when you come to the twenty-fourth chapter of the gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew you will find Jesus speaking of the disciples being delivered up to be scourged, and how they would be hated of all nations for His name’s sake. What’s more, is that Jesus would also declare and speak of how many men and women would be offended if and when persecution does indeed rise for the sake of the Word. Perhaps one of the greatest truths we must needs realize and understand when considering this concept of offense is that Jesus never promised us a life without trials, troubles and tribulation, nor did Jesus ever promise us a life without and apart from suffering, affliction and opposition. We would like to think that our decision and/or commitment to walk with and follow Jesus will automatically grant unto us a life without and absent any form or type of suffering, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case. You cannot read the words which are found within the New Testament gospels—nor even the words which are found in the Pauline or general epistles—and not find it written that in this life we will live free of trials, trouble and afflictions. In fact, it would be the apostle Paul who would emphatically declare that we must through many trials and tribulations enter into the kingdom of heaven. Not only this, but Jesus would emphatically declare unto His disciples that in this life we would have many tribulations and many troubles, but to not fear because He has overcome the world.

            When you come to the twenty-sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew you will encounter and come face to face with Jesus declaring unto the disciples how they would all be offended because of Him. Oh please do not miss and lose sight of just how incredibly powerful and significant these words truly are, for they bring us face to face with one of the greatest causes of offense within the heart of those who profess to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ—namely, persecution, suffering and affliction. Within this passage we encounter and come face to face with Jesus’ declaration unto the disciples that they would all be offended—every last one of them—because of what would take place on that night. Jesus knew what would befall Him in the garden, and Jesus knew He would be betrayed, and He knew that armed soldiers and guards would come unto Him that they might take Him by force. Jesus knew and understood that there would be those who would enter the garden with swords and staves as a force to lay hold of and seize Jesus. What’s more, is that Jesus also knew that the disciples would be offended because of Him. Not only this, but Jesus also knew that because of that offense the disciples would scatter and would flee every one their own way apart from Him. There in the garden Jesus would be betrayed into the hands of those who would be sent by the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel, and because of what would take place there in the garden all the disciples would scatter. What is important to realize and understand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture is when you think about and consider the fact that first would come the offense, and next would come the scattering and the fleeing. As you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find and discover that the offense would be the first thing that would arise within the hearts and souls of the disciples, and as a direct result of that offense they would all scatter from the shepherd. Because of what would take place on that night within the garden all the disciples would be offended because of Jesus, and that offense would drive them to abandon and forsake Him.

            It is absolutely necessary that we pay close attention to the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for this offense with Jesus when persecution, when suffering, and when opposition arises is of utmost importance. As you read the words which are presented before us in this passage you will find that Simon also called Peter would declare that even if all were offended he would not be offended. It would be those words which Jesus would speak unto and respond to Simon by declaring that before the cock crowed twice he would deny Him three times. What’s more, is that Scripture also goes on to reveal how Simon emphatically declared and proclaimed that He was willing to go to prison, and even die with and alongside Christ. The apostle Matthew records how all the disciples would agree with the word which Simon Peter spoke, and how Jesus declared unto them that they would all scatter, forsake and abandon Him on that particular night. What we must needs realize when reading these words is the tremendous self-confidence that was found within the heart and mind of Simon called Peter—that which would cause him to declare unto Jesus that he would not be offended because of Him, and that which would cause Him to declare that He was willing to die with Him, and to go to prison with Him. If and as you read the words found in this passage of Scripture, however, you will find that when presented with those who entered into the garden with Jesus Simon would draw the sword he had and strike off the ear of the servant of the high priest. In all reality, if Simon was willing to truly go to prison with Christ, and was truly willing to die with Him he would not have drawn his sword and attempted to use to against those who would come against Jesus. What is so absolutely incredible about this particular narrative is that although there were those who came out against Jesus with swords and staves, Jesus would not resist, nor would He fight against them. Even when one of His disciples drew a sword and struck off the ear of one of those who were present that night Jesus would command His disciple to put away the sword. Not only this, but Jesus would also declare that those who lived by the sword would die by the sword. Moreover, Jesus would go on to declare that He could call ten legions of angels to come to Him and deliver Him from that hour. Instead, however, Jesus chose to command the sword to be put away, and kept the angels at bay in heaven.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the narrative that is found in this passage of Scripture and I find myself coming face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that Jesus would declare unto His disciples that on that night they would all be offended with and because of Him. Because of the suffering, because of the opposition, and because of the persecution that would arise as a result of Judas’ betrayal we find the disciples being offended because of Jesus—and not only being offended, but also scattering and fleeing from the Lord Jesus Christ. That which we find within this passage of Scripture must needs be carefully considered, and must be strongly understood, for what we find within this portion of Scripture are the disciples being offended because of Jesus—and not only being offended with Jesus, but also being offended because of the suffering and persecution that would arise. What makes this even more intriguing is when you think about and consider the fact that Jesus had taught His disciples how He must needs go unto Jerusalem, and how He must needs suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel. Jesus taught His disciples how He must needs journey unto Jerusalem, and that there in Jerusalem He would face and experience tremendous suffering, affliction and persecution. There in Jerusalem Jesus would suffer many things, and as a direct result of that suffering He would die. What we now find within this passage of Scripture is Jesus declaring unto the disciples that when the hour of that suffering would arise they would all be offended with and because of Him. Jesus declared unto the disciples that they would all be offended with, by and because of Him, and we learn and discover that this offense would be rooted and grounded in the suffering which Jesus would experience. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading this passage that Jesus taught the disciples on more than one occasion how He must needs go unto Jerusalem and suffer many things and be killed, and yet here we find Him taking this a step further and declaring concerning the disciples that they would all be offended because of Him.

            Oh the more I read and the more I consider this particular passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth that the disciples would all be offended with and because of Jesus when the suffering, when the affliction, and when the persecution would arise. Oh they would indeed witness and behold the opposition and continued hatred of the scribes and Pharisees during those three and a half years toward Jesus, however, that which they would witness and behold on this night would be something entirely different. Up to this point the scribes, the Pharisees and the elders of the people would not be able to lay hold of or seize Jesus, for His hour and His time had not yet come. On this particular night, however, Jesus would not only be betrayed by one of His own, but there would be armed soldiers and guards who would enter into the garden that they might take Jesus by force. It would be as a direct result of this suffering, and as a result of this persecution and opposition each and every one of the disciples would be scattered from Jesus. When suffering, when persecution, when affliction, and when opposition would arise because of Jesus in the garden they would all scatter and would all flee from Him. This is something we must needs realize and understand, for it brings us face to face with the words which Jesus spoke—not only in the parable concerning the seed and the sower, but also the words which He spoke on the mount of Olives. Jesus was very clear concerning the Last Days and how there would be many who would be offended with and by Jesus because of persecution which would arise for the sake of the Word. Jesus emphatically declared and proclaimed unto His disciples that in the Last Days men would be hated of all nations for His name’s sake, and how persecution would arise and break out against His disciples and His followers.

            I sit here and read the words which are found within the twenty-sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew and I can’t help but see a tremendous and powerful picture of what can and what will happen in the days in which we are living in. There is not a doubt in my mind that we are indeed living in the Last Days, and as a direct result of living in the Last Days there can and there will be strong persecution, strong opposition, and strong affliction that can and will arise against the disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ. What makes this particular narrative in the twenty-sixth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew so incredibly intriguing is when you think about and consider the fact that there in the garden the disciples would be scattered because of the suffering and opposition that would rise against Jesus, and yet after the day of Pentecost, and after the Holy Spirit would baptize and fill each of them, there would be this boldness, this confidence, this trust, and this confidence that would enter into their hearts and their spirits. What we find in the New Testament book of Acts are the same eleven apostles who were not only willing to be imprisoned for the sake of preaching the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ, but also to endure beatings as a direct result of the name of the Lord Jesus. Even when persecution broke out against the early Church in the city of Jerusalem the followers of Jesus Christ would be scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria, while the apostles themselves would remain and abide within the city of Jerusalem. Of course I firmly believe that this persecution which arose against and upon the Church was not only meant to further advance the spread of the gospel concerning the kingdom, but also to deliver men and women from the great judgment, devastation and destruction that would come upon the city of Jerusalem when the Roman army would surround the city, lay siege to it, break through the walls and gates, and eventually and ultimately destroy the buildings which stood in the midst of the Temple.

            The words which are found in the twenty-sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew are incredibly necessary to think about and consider, for they call and draw our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding persecution, suffering, affliction and opposition that can and will arise because of and for the sake of the Word, and for the sake of the name of Jesus. It was Jesus Himself who emphatically declared that we will be hated of all nations for His name’s sake, and He didn’t merely mention this once, but twice within the gospel of Matthew. Once in the tenth chapter and again in the twenty-fourth chapter we find Jesus declaring unto the disciples that they would be hated of all nations for His name’s sake, and that they needed to prepare and make themselves ready to face and experience that hatred. Even in what we have known and referred to as “the Beatitudes” we are brought face with Jesus speaking of those who are persecuted as being blessed, and instructing those who experience persecution to rejoice, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before them. When we think about and speak of this concept of being offended we must needs realize and understand that one of the greatest causes for offense—particularly and especially in the Last Days—is suffering, affliction, persecution, and opposition which would arise for the sake of the name of Christ, and for the sake of the word of the kingdom. Jesus was very clear that in the Last Days there would be those in the Last Days who would be offended when persecution, suffering and affliction would arise because of the gospel concerning the kingdom, and because of the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus held no punches and made it very clear that in the Last Days there would be great persecution which would arise against the disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ, and Church history records and reveals how there were two distinct persecutions the early Church would face and experience—the first being that which would break out against the Church in Jerusalem, and the second being that persecution which would break out against the Christians in the city of Rome.

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I feel a great and tremendous burden to speak to you who are reading these words and ask where your commitment truly is to Jesus. Oh it is one thing for Jesus to be your Savior and to have delivered you from your sins, however, it is another thing for Jesus to be your Lord. There is not a doubt in my mind that only to the degree and measure that Jesus is our Lord can and will we be those who are willing to suffer with and for Him. I have previously written concerning what has been commonly known as “the sinner’s prayer,” and how I am convinced that this “prayer” is only part of the picture and only tells half of the story. I firmly believe that “the sinner’s prayer” is a means of bringing men and women into a place of perhaps making a decision for Jesus, and yet it is only part of the picture, and it only tells half the story. I am convinced that in addition to “the sinner’s prayer” there must also be “the sufferer’s prayer,” for it is this prayer that is not merely about making a decision to “accept Jesus into our hearts,” and to have Jesus forgive us of our sins, but rather to make Jesus our Lord. It was the apostle Paul who emphatically declared that if we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that He died and rose again we are and will be saved. Oh there are many men and women who might have confessed with their mouths Jesus as Savior, however, the question I can’t help but ask is how many men and women have actually confessed with their mouths that Jesus is Lord. What’s more, is that we must recognize that with this declaration that Jesus is Lord we must needs be those who are willing to suffer with and alongside Jesus. What we find within the garden was disciples who instead of suffering alongside Jesus chose to forsake, abandon, and scatter from Jesus. It wouldn’t be until after Jesus had risen from the dead, after Jesus had ascended unto the right hand of the Father in heaven, and after they had been baptized with the Holy Spirit that they would be those who were willing to suffer with and for Christ.

Oh there are a number of men and women who are willing to be those who will confess Jesus as Savior, however, I am absolutely and completely convinced that there are very few who are willing to confess Jesus as Lord. What’s more, is there are countless men and women who are okay with Jesus suffering, and who are okay with Jesus dying, however, when it comes to their own suffering, them carrying their own cross, and their own denying themselves as they present their bodies as living sacrifices, they are entirely and altogether unwilling to do so. We must needs realize and understand this particular reality, for while we would like to place an emphasis on making decisions and converts among us within our churches and houses of worship, I am absolutely and completely convinced that Jesus is looking for those who are being made disciples, and those who are willing to make a true, a genuine, and an authentic commitment before and unto the Lord Jesus. The question we must be willing to ask ourselves when and as we read these words is whether or not we are willing to be those who are not only willing to pray “the sinner’s prayer,” but are also those who are willing to pray “the sufferer’s prayer”—those who are willing to walk in and experience the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ. What will we do and how will we respond during those times and in those moments when suffering and persecution rises within this nation because of and for the sake of the gospel, and for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Are we those who will be offended, or will we be those who are willing to stand firm in our faith, and those who are willing to stand firm in our confidence—even in the midst of persecution, suffering, and affliction. Oh that we would be those who recognize and understand the tremendous need we have to be those who are willing to suffer with and suffer for the Lord Jesus Christ, and that we would not count our lives as dear unto us. It’s not enough to merely pray “the sinner’s pray” and make Jesus our Savior alone, for we have also been called and invited to be those who are willing to pray “the sufferer’s prayer,” for those who are willing to pray such a prayer are those who have a great need and desire to truly make Jesus Lord over every area of their lives. Let us recognize and understand that it’s not merely about our overcoming by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony, but it is also about us loving not our lives unto death—truly being willing to lose our lives in this life, and those who are willing to present our bodies as living sacrifices holy and acceptable in the sight of the living God.

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