Home > Encouragement > The Miracle and the Offense…April 16, 2015
During one of Jesus’ times of ministry in Nazareth, Scripture records that He began teaching and healing so that “they were astonished, and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?  Is not this the carpenter’s son?  Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?  And His sisters, are they not all with us?  Where then did this man get all these things?’ And they took offense at Him.” (Matt. 13:53-57a, NASB)  In response, Jesus pointed out how misleading the facts they “knew” about Him were, causing them to judge His words and deeds rather than letting the words and acts speak for themselves as to their Origin. The Message translates His comments as, “A prophet is taken for granted in his hometown and his family.”  The result was that “He didn’t do many miracles there because of their hostile indifference.” (Matt. 13:58)
Hostile indifference?  Ouch.
Two points from this passage really caught my attention: first, the end result was that “He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.” (Matt. 13:58, NASB)  Secondly, the statement “And they took offense at Him.”  I think it’s “safe” to state that most Christians would say they are not
offended by Jesus.  But change the question just a bit:  what about those times when His Spirit freely does the unexpected as He manifests among us?  That seems like the more appropriate post-Pentecost question, to me. As a dumbfounded crowd watched the man whose ankles were just straightened in Acts 3, so Peter subsequently asked, “…why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?…It is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man…and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.”  (Acts 3:12,16, NASB)
The Gospels twice-record Jesus’ words, “Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”  (Matt. 11:6, Luke 7:23, NASB)  That must make it a pretty serious consideration.  The people of Nazareth did not recognize Him beyond fleshly parameters at that time, and recognizing His Spirit at work and at residence in us is often the same situation, today.

Paul taught the Corinthians (The Message translation), “Our firm decision is to work from this focused center:  One man died for everyone.  That puts everyone in the same boat.  He included everyone in His death so that everyone could also be included in His life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.  Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look.  We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong…we certainly don’t look at Him that way anymore.  Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new.  The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!  Look at it!  All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and Him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other…God has given us the task of telling everyone what He is doing.  We’re Christ’s representatives…”  (2 Cor. 5:14-19)

Included in a resurrection life.  That seems to be an important part of life’s puzzle that often gets left off to the side by itself, not quite seeming to fit in any of the spaces we see.  Perhaps that’s because we just aren’t seeing Jesus in the spaces….or, sometimes, even as part of the puzzle pieces.

To the Romans Paul explained, “for you who welcome Him, in whom He dwells…you yourself experience life on God’s terms.  It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, He’ll do the same thing in you that He did in Jesus, bringing you alive to Himself?” (Romans 8:10-11, The Message)

I suspect there has been a general devaluing of “life on God’s terms,” because we have been deceived into believing that experiencing “life on God’s terms” is reserved for someone else – not ourselves.  Yet this is “circular thinking,” for the more we search out “those people,” the more we see someone whose sister we know, whose carpool we shared, whose husband hosted the last BBQ of the season.  And so it becomes “normal” to be offended that a person we know in such commonplace arenas could be messengers to speak, embrace, release, or explain an insight or encouragement from the Lord.  I believe this is a trap in which the enemy delights.

May the earthly “box” by which we define each other (and ourselves) be shredded apart and cast away, so that the testimony of our experience is not, “He didn’t do many miracles there because of their hostile indifference.”