When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” Then His disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” (Matthew 15:10-14)
Jesus Offended People
The disciples felt a little conscience about the force of Jesus teaching style. They had been with Him enough to know that He did not concern Himself with mincing words against the religious leaders who sought to trap Him. His message was simple, direct and bold. It was truth. The scribes and Pharisees complained about the disciples of Jesus not keeping the traditions of their fathers – at the same time failing to understand the will of God in the Law. Their problem was heart trouble of keeping laws on the outside but failing to worship in spirit and truth on the inside. Jesus knew their hearts. He pointed out the clarity of their refusal to follow the Father. The disciples got a little edgy about His approach. Jesus reply to His own disciples was plain and direct. Those who follow His Father will be blessed and those who refuse will be torn down. Blind men lead blind men and the end is destruction. Any questions?
This is not uncharacteristic for Jesus. In truth, He never offended anyone. His words offended them because they were the truth. People often mistake the action of a person for offensive when in fact the content of the message is what upsets the spirit. Jesus reminded the multitudes the words He spoke were the words of His Father. Truth is narrow. It is direct. There is no latitude to allow for holding back so that men’s hearts will not be offended. Eventually the people would kill Jesus for the same reason. They could not handle the nature of truth. He was the embodiment of everything that was right in everything He said and the Jewish leaders hated Him for that.
Truth has the same message today. It is a clear temptation to withhold the truth because of how it may be perceived in a world given over to political correctness. Remember this spirit of correctness is not new. Since the beginning of time, the truth has been established as plain, simple and direct. Noah offended many people. A flood was coming, salvation is in the ark alone, repent or die. His words were truth because a flood did come and the only people that were saved with those in the ark. Being offended by the preaching of Noah did not change the reality of the coming flood. The prophets of old were killed because they told the truth. In the early days of the church disciples were persecuted because they upheld a banner of truth.
Teaching the gospel of Christ today is telling the story written by the finger of God. It is His story. The message of salvation is simple, plain and direct. There is no other way of salvation but Jesus Christ. He is the only way, the only truth and the only life and without Him no one – underline no one – will see the Father. If people are offended by what is taught, make certain what is taught is the word of God. When the word of God is taught and people are offended, remember they are mad at God – not you. You preach the word. God will handle His end. If they follow the will of the Lord, they will be saved. If not they will be lost. God’s word! His truth!
There is a tragic clash between truth and the world. Pure undistorted truth burns up the world. (Nicholas Berdyaev, The Divine and the Human, 1949)