Calvary Road Baptist Church

“OFFENDED BECAUSE OF HIM”

Matthew 26.30-35

 

The night before our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified; He led His disciples forth from the upper room. He had observed the Passover with them and instituted the communion of the Lord’s Supper. They went to the Mount of Olives opposite the Temple mount, and then to the Garden of Gethsemane nestled on the side of the Mount of Olives. It was while they were walking toward the Mount of Olives and talking along the way that the Lord Jesus Christ opened a dialog about His disciples being offended because of Him. Before we deal with that passage, allow me to lay some groundwork and clear away any confusion to our understanding of this matter of being offended.

Being offended about something is a very well developed concept in scripture, with a number of passages exposing what it is to be offended, what things they are that cause offense, and what the proper remedies to being offended happen to be. The Hebrew word and the primary Greek word translated “offend” are both words that refer to a stumblingblock or causing to stumble.[1] This should not surprise us in light of the conditions existing in those days, where it was very common for someone to lose his footing when stepping over an object in rough terrain and taking a tumble.

Transfer that mental image to the relations that exist between individuals and it is easy to see that conflicts arise between people, resulting in hurt feelings, disgust, disillusionment, irritation, and feelings of being wronged in some way. Of course, we know how this works out in church attendance, because some of you have loved ones whose lack of attendance of late is directly related to being offended in some way. Perhaps the offense is related to something we might think of as a legitimate cause for offense, such as bad conduct on your part, or bad conduct on the part of someone here at church. However, there are also other reasons for being offended, such as bad conduct on the part of the person who pretends to be offended, as a means of justifying his refusal to pay a debt or own up to some other kind of obligation or duty he disowns.

We know from the Apostle Paul’s writings that Christians are to be very careful about offending another Christian.[2] As well, expanding from comments originally made about offending little ones, the Lord Jesus Christ made a pronouncement about anyone who causes another to stumble at the truth: “Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!”[3] Therefore, if you have been the cause of someone’s feelings being hurt, or are in any way an obstacle to someone attending church and considering the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, you need to deal with that right now before you face the heavy hand of God.

Yes, we recognize that someone who has been offended does not have any love for God’s Word, Psalm 119.165, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” However, it is both our duty and our privilege to accommodate the lost who have been offended as best we can, so that we might be instrumental in bringing them to Christ. Quite another cause of offense exists when the stumblingblock is the Lord Jesus Christ, so described in such passages as Isaiah 8.14, Romans 9.33, and First Peter 2.8. Turn to Matthew 26.30-35. When you find that passage, please stand for the reading of God’s Word:

 

30     And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

31     Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.

32     But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.

33     Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.

34     Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

35     Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

 

Three considerations arising from this exchange between the Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples, the night before His crucifixion:

 

CONSIDER, FIRST, THE SAVIOR’S PREDICTIONS

 

There are two predictions:

Verse 31 refers to a prophecy uttered by the post-exilic prophet Zechariah: “Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.” Zechariah’s ministry was conducted after the Babylonian captivity, during the time Haggai was urging the returnees from Babylon to complete the work on Zerubbabel’s Temple. Turn to Zechariah 13.7, and read with me the prophecy the Lord Jesus Christ was referring to: “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.” Notice the descriptions of the Lord Jesus Christ in this prophecy. The LORD of hosts describes Him as “my shepherd, “the man that is my fellow,” and “the shepherd.” We are not surprised our Lord is described as “the shepherd,” since He is “the good Shepherd.”[4] However, the phrase “the man that is my fellow” bears closer scrutiny. This is an astonishing assertion about the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ, especially in light of Him applying this prophecy in Zechariah to Himself. Perhaps John Gill’s explanation of the phrase is most eloquent:

 

The human nature of Christ is signified by “the man” not that he was really man before his incarnation, only in the purpose and covenant of God; and he often appearing in a human form; and the Scripture speaking of things future as present; though here it regards him in the days of his flesh, and as suffering: his divine nature is expressed by being “the fellow” of the Lord of hosts; not only being near to him in place and affection, but his equal, being truly a divine Person; of the same nature, glory, and majesty, with him, though distinct from him; and so fit to be the Shepherd of the flock.[5]

 

This Old Testament phrase is tantamount to what we find in John 1.1-2, where we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God,” and is a clear assertion of Christ’s deity. Back to Matthew 26.31. “All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.” The disciples would be offended because of the Lord Jesus Christ, according to a centuries-old prophecy that describes Him as both man and God. Were they offended? They certainly were scattered abroad, where they not? Yes, they were offended, offended because of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 32 of our text informs us of our Lord’s plans for a rendezvous with His disciples in Galilee following His resurrection: “But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.” What matter-of-fact confidence is seen in these words. Implicit in this verse is His death by crucifixion, for how else would He rise from the dead and then go before these men to Galilee?

 

CONSIDER, SECOND, THE DISCIPLE’S PROTESTATIONS

 

Jesus said, “All ye shall be offended because of me this night.”

Peter, however, contradicted His lord. People who are offended by the Savior quite frequently deny that they are offended, deny they will be offended, or deny the reason they are offended. Read verse 33: “Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.”

Verse 34: “Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” Not only would Peter demonstrate that he was offended by denying the Savior, he would end up denying the Savior three times before the rooster crowed the next morning.

So, how did Peter respond to this miracle-working Lord and Master he had sworn allegiance to? He denied that he would ever deny Him. Verse 35: “Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee.”

Though Peter was wrong for denying that he would ever deny his Lord, do not be so hasty as to attribute any greater spirituality to the other disciples. Notice what the rest of them did, in the last half of verse 35: “Likewise also said all the disciples.” They followed Peter’s lead in denying that they would ever deny the Lord.

Consider the conduct of these who were the best of men, who had given up all to follow and serve the Master for more than three years, but who ended up being offended because of Him just the same. Do not think you are not behaving differently, my friend. You think you have valid reasons for not owning the Savior as yours, of not trusting Him, but you are offended because of Him.

 

IN LIGHT OF THIS, CONSIDER THE SINNER’S PREDICAMENT

 

First, there is the conflict that exists between you and God. Make no mistake about this. A conflict does exist between you and God. He is grieved by your sins against Him, by your rebellion against His authority in your life, and by your continued refusal to bow before Him as the most important consideration in your life. He destroyed an entire world for less than you have done, when He destroyed this world in the flood of Noah’s day. Genesis 6.5 reveals, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Therefore, my friend, do not be so bold as to think all is right between you and God, and that He holds no grudge against you just because He has not yet visited you with divine retribution.

Second, there is the condescension of God’s Son by coming into this world in human flesh. What an amazing miracle the Father has worked by sending His beloved Son to be clothed in human flesh that He might take upon Himself our sins and pay the penalty justice demands. When you consider that God is more superior to men than men are to microscopic organisms that live out their lives in pond water, what other word describes what Jesus did than condescension? However, it was even more than condescension, was it not? Philippians 2.8 tells us what else Jesus did: “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

This brings about what I choose to call the confrontation. God is high, holy, Creator and Sustainer, righteous and just. You, on the other hand, are a creature, are a sinner, are rebellious, and are not only weak but dead, and deserving eternal punishment for your spiritual crimes against His holiness. So you see, the conflict that exists between infinite God and the infinitesimal you is far past your capabilities to remedy. There is nothing you can do to appease God, since even your attempts to do righteous deeds are described in the Bible as filthy rags.[6] Nevertheless, God is gracious and merciful, and His design is to confront you with not only the problem that faces you, this conflict that exists between God and you, but also its remedy. The problem, of course, exists because of your guilt, and the penalty that you justly deserve. The remedy is the shed blood of Jesus Christ, poured out on Calvary’s cross when He, as your sin-bearer, voluntarily suffered the punishment that you deserve. Faced with your own guilt, and faced with the Savior who died for you, who was punished in your place, and the holy God whose just nature demands that sins and crimes be righteously punished, you stand at a crossroads, not only in your life, but also in your eternity.

How will you respond to the command of God that arises from this confrontation that comes from the Savior’s condescension, which springs from this conflict that exists between you and Almighty God? It is termed the gospel, owing to it being astonishingly good news of Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection from the dead. How else can the crucifixion of God’s eternal and only begotten Son to atone for the sins of His creatures be described, if not as good news? After all, it is not as though there was any burden placed upon God, any mandate that required that He provide for your salvation. No, this is all of grace. However, do not be so naive as to think that because it is all of grace that it is therefore optional. The gospel is not optional. Why else would the Apostle Paul remark, “But they have not all obeyed the gospel”?[7] The winds and sea obey Him, Matthew 8.27. The unclean spirits obey Him, Mark 1.27. On what basis do sinners conclude that they are free to disobey Him? It would do sinners well to consider the question asked by the Apostle Peter: “. . . what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”[8]

This brings us to the consequences of the sinner’s response to his predicament. Here is what offends sinners about Jesus Christ. They object to being confronted with the heinousness of their sins, the wickedness of their character, and the absolute necessity of their willingness to acknowledge their guilt. They despise that the pretense of their goodness is stripped away, and recoil at the idea of being naked before a holy God. Why do you think the disciples ran away in the Garden? They were in no danger. There was no move to arrest any of them. Why do you think Simon Peter denied the Lord three times in quick succession? He was in no danger then, or any other time. No one gave any hint that he was to be seized and held. The disciples were not offended by the soldiers who came for Jesus. Peter was not offended by the young maiden who questioned him. Remember that “Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.” They were offended because of Him. Their reaction was against God implementing His gospel plan to punish His Son for the sins of others. That is why the disciples ran. That is why Simon Peter denied three times. And that is why your child no longer comes to church, why your sister no longer comes to church, and why your spouse no longer comes to church. To get as far away from Jesus Christ as you can, either physically or emotionally (even while you are sitting in the auditorium) is the response that results from being offended because of Him, just as it was with the Lord’s disciples. Unless you deal with that and get over it, unless you submit to God’s will and obey the gospel by coming to Christ, the consequences for you will be to suffer the wrath of God. God’s future dealings with you are utterly dependent upon your relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. I read Paul’s words to new Christians in Thessalonica:

 

7      And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,

8      In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

9      Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.[9]

 

Many people are offended by one thing or the other. Some people even pretend to be offended so they don’t have to face up to their own shortcomings or debts. Sadly, there are even people who are offended by church members from time to time. It is a terrible thing, and we should do all we can about it.

However, known only to God among those who are offended are those who have actually been offended because of Jesus Christ. It happened to Simon Peter, though he denied it would happen to him. It happened to the Lord’s other disciples, even though they denied it would happen to them.

What we know about those who are offended is that they do not love God’s Word, Psalm 119.165, for if they loved God’s Word they would embrace what they recoil at, and would submit to God’s will rather than reacting against it.

You see, for the gospel to be the good news that it is, the reality about you has to be very, very bad, indeed. For Jesus to leave heaven’s glory to suffer and bleed and die for your sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, you have to be spiritually dead and totally incapable of doing anything to save yourself. That is a very bitter pill to swallow. Most people react against it, and distract themselves from any real consideration of the truth by pointing the finger of accusation, first in this direction and then in that direction, to somehow shift the blame somewhere other than where it belongs.

However, in the end, all that will matter is what you have done with Jesus. Oh, my friend, do not let the final verdict about you be that you were offended because of Him. Let the final verdict be that you turned to Him to save you from your sins, and so were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.



[1] Francis Brown, S. R. Driver & Charles A. Briggs, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew And English Lexicon, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1979), page 506 and Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 77.

[2] Romans 14.13; 1 Corinthians 8.9

[3] Matthew 18.7

[4] John 10.11, 14

[5] John Gill, The Collected Writings of John Gill - Version 2.0, (Paris, AK: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., 2000-2003)

[6] Isaiah 64.6

[7] Romans 10.16

[8] 1 Peter 4.17

[9] 2 Thessalonians 1.7-9



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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org