Matthew 15:12 “Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?”
The cultural climate in many nations has eroded into new definitions of what is offensive and what is not. The pressure placed on people in society is to not offend anyone in anyway. If you don’t use the proper pronoun, you might be offending another, if you sound too traditional or project your worldview in such a way that causes others to feel uncomfortable, you are labeled hateful.
The message portrayed is that everyone should be made to feel comfortable with how they live their lives without anyone else intruding upon their position.
The goal of not being offensive was not how Jesus lived. His concern was less about making people feel comfortable and more about saving the lost and confronting false religion.
When the scribes and Pharisees approached Jesus with accusations, His response became a rebuke against the hypocritical nature of their inquiry.
Matthew 15:1-3 “Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?”
The religious rulers had elevated man’s traditions over God’s commandments.
The world has a tradition of trying to reform moral expectations to current trends and throughout history these trends have changed with the times. Ancient ethics is about living a good and virtuous life according to the ethical virtues of people who consider themselves good. The modern notion of morality is primarily focused on the interests of others and the idea of duty and obligation in our culture.
There are certain “standards” that are deemed acceptable and then eventually become expectations. In Greek history ethics were correlated to a person’s core belief. To consider the ethics of a person was to weigh the characteristics of that person’s character and see if they aligned with the standards set by society. If someone violated society’s standards of goodness they were labeled a person of bad character while those who subscribed to the trends of modern thinking were considered “good” people.
I would venture to say that Jesus was probably labeled a man of bad character by the Pharisees and scribes. Since Jesus’ standards of righteousness didn’t align with their thinking he was considered a blasphemer, a false teacher, and one they thought was controlled by Satan.
Should we concern ourselves with the current ethics of this world?
Some would say that to speak and act like the world brings opportunity to be a light to the lost. Others would be wary to compromise anything that appears unholy.
A discussion that centers around the philosophy of worldly ethics can get convoluted, when the world tries to mimic any aspect of the Kingdom of God it usually confuses people more than it supports them.
Matthew 15:7-9 “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”
At the very least we must have an understanding of what people have placed their trust in so that we might be able to speak to where they are, not to confront them but to show them true life and why godliness is so important.
To those who claim to be followers of Christ, it is to these Jesus became more harsh and where judgement is brought against anything that rises up against the authority of Christ.
Romans 9:33 “As it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”
When Jesus spoke the philosophies of this world were turned upside down. The tilling of the soil in people’s hearts caused them to reconsider everything they thought they once knew. For some the idea of leaving a world system that had proven itself faulty was easy but for those who had gained power and prestige through that system, the prospect of belief became much more difficult.
Giving up everything to follow Jesus is to move past the offense of Christ and recognize the lowliness of sin. The message of the cross leaves no room for worldly thinking, for those who try to hold onto anything of this world, they become tethered to a past they could never give up.
Getting close to the light is not the same as partaking of the light. Many who never severed those last remnants of their past still try to act like they have fully submitted to God’s call, it is to these God reserves greater judgement.
1 John 1:5-7 “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
It is not easy for someone to hear that they still walk in darkness, for those who pretend to be in the light, pride is at the root of self-justification.
The Lord once lead me to confront a friend I once knew, He wanted me to warn him of the danger he was in regarding his eternal future. I did everything I could to soften the blow of confronting the fruits of darkness I witnessed in his life and he finally drew a conclusion by saying to me, “It sounds like you don’t think I’m a christian?”. I told him that I can’t make that judgement but I believed he was in danger of finding himself in Hell when he dies.
For those who are filled with the Spirit, a confrontation of sin speaks to the heart of their conviction. A godly man or woman will hear the accusation and repent, those who are not of God will hear the accusation and argue their case or try to justify themselves.
1 Peter 2:7-8 “So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”
They stumble because they disobey the Word, as they were destined to do.“
Disobedience—it is the bottom line for all who are offended.
People want to go their own way. They want to make their own rules and govern themselves by their own laws. Ethics are good when aligned with God’s Word but when ethics are separated from God holy standard they become evil.
When we represent Christ to the world, we will be offensive if we walk as He walked. Righteousness and Truth leave no room for compromise. Many will turn and walk away but some will turn and repent. We can’t know those who will believe and those who won’t, all we know is we have been called to be salt and light in the world.
Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the way everlasting.”
May our offense be with those who see Christ in us, for an offense against God is far more grievous. The world hated Christ, it will also hate you—but be of good cheer, this world is not our home.
All we can do is live like Jesus knowing that some may stumble over Him, hopefully others will see a house built upon the Rock and believe. This is the hope of every true believer.