12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?” 13 Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, 14 so ignore them. — Matt. 15:12-14a NLT
Pilate washed his hands and declared that he was innocent of the blood of Jesus. He could have just as easily told the crowd that he would not allow them to take Jesus because he found nothing deserving of death in the actions of Jesus. Without Pilate’s permission and without him furnishing the guard detail to carry out the crucifixion, the crowd would not have been able to crucify Jesus. The Jews had no authority to sentence anyone to death or to carry out the death sentence. Though Pilate did not participate physcially in the crucifixion, neither did he stop it from happening even though he had the authority to do so. Pilate had worldy authority to do something. We have a hgher authority who has authorized us to speak out when the name of Jesus is being blasphemed and God’s name is being taken in vain. Do we think that we can hide behind our fear of offending others and not speak out? Do we think Jesus is pleased when we stand by and do or say nothing when injustices are taking place before our very eyes? Jesus put His life on the line by offending the religious leaders and rulers of that day. He gave up His life so that we could have the authority to speak and act in His name. If we can trust Jesus to save us and keep our souls safe throughout eternity, surely we can trust Him to protect us when we follow His example and His commands.
10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. — Isaiah 41:10 NLT
27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?—1 Cor. 10:27-30 NIV
Jesus set the example of eating with sinners and he expects us to do the same. We are free to eat whatever is served to us. In those days, it was very possible that a person could have been offered something that was prepared as a sacrifice to an idol. If they were informed of that, then they should not partake of that food, not because it is a sin for them, but for the sake of the other person. Why? Paul is using the eating of meat that has been sacrificed to idols to show us an example of how we should be willing to give up certain rights rather than offend or harm another person. We are not judged by what goes into our mouth but by what comes out of it.
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”–Matt. 15:10,11 NIV
If we profess one thing and do another, we not only harm the Kingdom of God and ourselves, we also become a stumbling block to unbelievers and weaker brothers and sisters. If we know something offends another person even though it would not be a sin for us to take that action, then we should abstain from doing so in their presence. The only exception would be that if, in so doing, we had to violate our own conscience, then that is a line we cannot cross.
6 But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me. 7 But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised 8 (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles), 9 and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I also was eager to do.—Gal. 2:6-10 (NASB)
God is waiting to show you the Way.
Paul did not back down from his stand on circumcision. When Peter, James and John, the pillars of the church in Jerusalem, recognized that Paul was right they gave him the right hand of fellowship. (To those who don’t speak Churchese, that means that Paul now had their support and was welcomed into the congregation of Christians,) They all agreed that the new converts, both Jewish and Gentile should not eat food that had been sacrificed to idols and that they should support the poor. It is still a good idea to help the poor and refrain from acts that might cause our brothers to be offended.. Paul and Barnabas leave to go back to Antioch to give the news to the new converts. We, like the first century church, must be careful not to add requirements to God’s plan of salvation. We do not want to become like the legalistic leaders who weighed men down with their traditions. When the Spirit sets us free, we are indeed free from the bondage of sin that was of no benefit to us. The law could not free us, but God could and did by sending His Son, Jesus as an offering for our sin.
1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh—Romans 8:1-3 (NASB)
God is waiting to show you the Way.
16 You did not choose me; I chose you. And I gave you this work: to go and produce fruit, fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you anything you ask for in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other. 18 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as it loves its own. But I have chosen you out of the world, so you don’t belong to it. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: A servant is not greater than his master. If people did wrong to me, they will do wrong to you, too. And if they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours, too. 21 They will do all this to you on account of me, because they do not know the One who sent me.–John 15:16-21 (NCV)
Are you getting the feeling that we are stuck on this “love” theme. Love the Father, love me, love each other? We are and we should be. After all, the author of the Bible is perfect, complete Love.
8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.–1 John 4:8 (NCV)
The world is full of hate. Those that walk in the flesh despise people that love. We have been chosen out of the world, but as long as we inhabit this fleshly tent, we will remain in the world. While we are here, it is our job to show the world love. Some of them will be drawn to Jesus through that, others will not be so kind. The name of Jesus is powerful. Every time a person hears that name, they have to make a decision. They will either be for Jesus or against Jesus. If they are against Jesus, they will offend and persecute us. We hear about it in the news every day. You can talk about religion all day and nobody cares, but just mention the Name of Jesus and there will be, there must be, a reaction. It gets personal because it is personal. It requires each of us to build a relationship with a living Savior that is founded on and built with LOVE!
59 He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
God is waiting to show you the Way.
60 Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” 61 Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them,“Does this offend you? 62 Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? 63 The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) 65 Then he said,“That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.”—John 6:59-65 (NLT)
Many of the people who had followed Jesus and had become His disciples were offended at the words of Jesus when He said you must eat my flesh and drink my blood. They complained that His words were too hard to understand. In today’s society, we have the same thing happening. There are people who go to church, hear the Gospel of Jesus and leave offended. Because they don’t understand, they think that Christianity is a negative, bloody religion. It is only when the Holy Spirit calls us and we come to Jesus and believe His words that we can understand the message. The Spirit leads us into all truth and gives life to the words of Jesus. It is then that we can understand that the spoken words become the living Word, Jesus.
14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.—John 1:14 (NLT)
Once we accept this truth, we become the Children of the Living God.
We are Spirit-bred, (John 3:5)
We are Spirit-led (John 16:13)
We are Spirit-fed (John 21:15-17)
7 Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. Think about how their lives turned out, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 Don’t get carried away by all kinds of unfamiliar teachings. Gaining inner strength from God’s kindness is good for us. This strength does not come from following rules about food, rules that don’t help those who follow them. 10 Those who serve at the tent have no right to eat what is sacrificed at our altar. 11 The chief priest brings the blood of animals into the holy place as an offering for sin. But the bodies of those animals were burned outside the Israelite camp. 12 That is why Jesus suffered outside the gates of Jerusalem. He suffered to make the people holy with his own blood. 13 So we must go to him outside the camp and endure the insults he endured.—Hebrews 13:7-13 (GW)
God is waiting to show you the way.
Any time, we hear a message or read a devotional or blog, the first thing that we must be sure of is that it is aligned with the Holy Scripture. God and His Word are not capable of being changed. Any time, we are listening or reading and feel a little tug at our hearts or minds, we need to stop and check the Word. There are different translations of the scriptures, some better than others. But they should all present the same thoughts. If anyone should say that God has given them something to add to His Word, have them read this scripture passage:
Revelation 22:18,19 (GW) 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy in this book: If anyone adds anything to this, God will strike him with the plagues that are written in this book. 19 If anyone takes away any words from this book of prophecy, God will take away his portion of the tree of life and the holy city that are described in this book.
Our relationship with Jesus Christ does not depend on rituals or the kind of foods we eat. It isn’t the externals, it is what is in our heart. Will we be insulted and offended for our faithfulness? Ask the Christians in Iraq right now. We will have to endure insults just as our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, did.