The man was on a somewhat elevated position… literally. He was preaching to the crowd that had gathered. There were several hundred within earshot. He spoke of the Kingdom of God. He spoke of Healing.
To some, the words he spoke were refreshing and transformative. To others, offensive.
Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” – Matthew 15:12
If there’s one thing that Jesus was guilty of, it was of people constantly being offended by him. Whether it was something he said, something he did, or something he said or did on a particular day, there were those who (in spite of the miracles he did and truth he spoke) questioned him and took offense to what he said.
Jesus was simply teaching. But in spite of that, the Pharisees were offended. Why? What was it about what Jesus said that was so offensive to the Pharisees?
This post will not dive into that. Simply put, the fact that the Pharisees were offended by what Jesus said demonstrated more about the condition of their heart than it did the content of what Jesus said.
The Pharisees were approaching Jesus’ teaching from a legalistic and bounded set mentality. Perhaps some of them thought something like, ‘True Rabbinical teachers wouldn’t say that. If it were up to me, this is what he should have said.’
Now… Jesus could have stood there and defended the words he said. Whether religiously or culturally taboo, something he said ‘struck a nerve’ with the Pharisees. Jesus tells the disciples, “Let them alone” (v. 14).
There’s more to the passage, where Jesus tells them that if the blind lead the blind they’ll both fall off the cliff. That’s a different part of the passage for a different blog post. The main thing was the state of their heart. They were so offended by what Jesus said.
The reality is that we face similar challenges in our days. For the sake of transparency, I had a great interaction with a student on social media regarding a recent speaker at school. While my interaction with the proponent of the initial post had good interaction, others were chiming in and speaking into the situation. In essence, there were things the speaker said that were offensive to some students.
Now… before any reader jumps down my throat and dissects my intent… let me make something very clear. I completely agree with these students that there are things that can be said that might be offensive to people. Yes, (as one student put it, and I’m paraphrasing) it’s the responsibility of the speaker to be sensitive to the crowd. You want to maintain credibility. This is not where I’m heading.
The fact that we are offended by anything (not just a speaker) simply reveals something about our heart. We’ve been hurt. We’ve been signaled out. We’re broken (yes, we are broken). Then someone says something that either brings up a past wound or reminds us of something unjust.
What I’m NOT saying…
What I’m not saying is “Don’t be offended.” That would be like saying, “Don’t breathe.” It’s not possible. Dictionary.com defines being offended as “to irritate, annoy, or anger; cause resentful displeasure.” The reality that we get irritated, annoyed, angry (although anger is a secondary emotion) or resentful simply proves the reality that we are human.
What I AM saying…
What I AM saying is this. It’s not do or don’t get offended. It’s that when you do, ask yourself why you’re getting offended. What about (fill in the blank) has gotten under your skin?
That’s where I’m getting at. Go ahead. Wrestle with things. Ask questions. Get annoyed. Be disappointed. This will all happen. But don’t stay in the emotion. Follow it to where the cause is.
The reality is that whatever that “thing” is that is annoying/disappointing/angering you in the moment isn’t actually causing that annoying/disappointing/angering emotion you’re feeling… it’s just exposing the stuff that’s hidden inside.
I know… I know… “Here we go again… there’s that same ‘we are all broken’ speech.” But regardless of how many ways we try to escape it, the truth remains that we are broken and in grave need of God’s grace and guidance. Especially when it comes to the heart stuff.
If we stay in the self-righteousness of the “I have every right to be annoyed/angry/offended because what he said was hurtful/offensive/risque” then we’ll never get to the emotionally healthy spirituality that Christ desires for us.
U Mad? Get Healed.