The Gospel is Offensive

communion-bread-and-cupThe Gospel is good news.  It is the power of God unto salvation.  It is the story of God with us.  As Christians, we believe all these wonderful things, and more, about the Good News of Jesus Christ.  But the vast majority of people will say “Thanks but no thanks,” and some will get defensive first and then angry.  For better or worse, hearing the good news offends people.

Jesus has a long conversation with some Jews that “had believed him” in John 8:31-59.   In verse 39, the Jews respond to Jesus that Abraham is their father.  In 41, they say that God is their only father.  Jesus’ final statement, “Before Abraham was I am,” is the Gospel.  Jesus is using language that only God would use (i.e. the burning bush), and seems to make a play on words with God’s name.  It was not only blasphemy to use God’s name this way, he is saying that in fact he is God; God with us.  That’s good news.  But on this occasion, it’s not good news for Jesus.  They were picking up stones with which to kill him as he escaped from their midst.

The Gospel is offensive.  It’s message is controversial.  Sharing it will get you into trouble.  Jesus warned his disciples that they would be despised and hated, but to remember the world first hated him.  For all his effort in reaching the world, Paul was an ambassador in chains.

The Gospel is exclusive.  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  He is the only way, and that’s not what this generation of New Age wants to hear.  Every ancient religion is exclusive (Judaism, Islam, Buddhism) so we now have a system of thinking that is not.  Whichever path you choose will lead you to the same place; Try that sometime when lost in the woods.

The Gospel is not seeker sensitive.  The Gospel is about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It’s about the cross, the grave, and Christ’s body and blood.  When Jesus told his own followers they must eat his flesh and drink his blood, even they said his teaching was too hard.  If we remove everything from our churches that could possibly offend someone, we find there is nothing left; including Jesus.

This 3 point sermon is a follow-up to my post on Seeker Sensitive.

4 thoughts on “The Gospel is Offensive

  1. Jesus leaves very little room for other options with His straightfoward statement in John 14:6. Some how, in our relative, politically correct culture, we have lost sight of that. Two thousand years of martyrs reminds us that the message of hope in Jesus is always controversial and even offensive. Thanks for the word.

  2. Quite right. People don’t have the right to never be offended. If they did, then all free speech could be trumped by a single person saying, “I find this offensive”.

    You’ve got a right to say anything you like, but you also have to accept people’s right to disagree and say things that may be offensive to you or your beliefs too.

    I’m concerned that Muslim countries keep pushing the UN to ban offending their religion. If you make a rule like that pretty much all religious texts will have to be thrown out plus some non-religious ones!

  3. Jews are taught not to follow after the gods of the nations. May I ask a question? If Jesus, your messiah, was indeed the messiah. Why are you not keeping Torah – the commandments that the prophets spoke about?

    And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God. (Ezekiel 11:19-20)

    My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. (Ezekiel 37:24)

    And many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths,” for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3)

    Do Christians who insist that the messiah has already come keep the commandments of God? Do members of Messianic congregations actually keep the mitzvoth of Shabbat and Kashruth clearly outlined in the Jewish scriptures? For example, do those Jews who have converted to Christianity make sure never to kindle a fire and refrain from carrying any object on the Sabbath day as the Bible decrees? (Exodus 35:3; Jeremiah 17:19-20) The answer is that they do not. Yet, why don’t they if they believe the messiah has already come?

    Who are those people who diligently and joyfully adhere to these life-giving commandments? The answer is: The faithful remnant of the Jewish people who loudly reject the teachings of Christianity and any other doctrine contrary to Torah.


  4. Zahava Pasternak,

    I will answer these questions to the best of my ability. For the Christian believer, Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. God gave to Moses the Law. The most obvious and memorable part of the Law is the 10 commandments, given in Exodus chp. 20 and repeated in Deutoranmy. The Law is much more than these 10, but even the 10 cannot be kept perfectly. With each violation of the Law, a sacrifice was required. As Christians, we believe God’s plan was to show humanity that we could never keep the Law perfectly, and thus need a savior. In Christian language, Jesus brought God’s New Covenant between He and man. Everything in the Old Covenant helps us to understand the New.

    In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve made aprons of fig leaves to cover their nakedness. God killed an animal, and made for them coats of skin. Later God honored Abel’s sacrifice but not Cain’s. Hebrews 9 teaches that without shedding blood, there is no remission of sins. We see that in the temple sacrifice system. We believe Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, his blood more excellent than that of sheep and doves.

    During the Passover, the death angel “passed over” those homes that had the blood of the sacrifice on display. The Hebrews (Jews by the first century) kept the Passover throughout the centuries. When Jesus attended his last Passover meal with his disciples, he took the food of the Passover – the bread and the cup – and gave them new meaning. He taught that breaking the bread and drinking the cup would remind his followers that his body was broken and blood was spilt.

    Jesus himself said “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” Jesus was “lifted up” on the cross of Calvary. The Hebrews in the wilderness could look to the brass serpent and live, and we believe it is looking to the cross of Christ that saves one’s soul under the New Covenant.

    We believe Jesus to be our High Priest, going continually into the presece of Holy God to make interecession on our behalf. Everything about the office of Christ is expressed in the language of the Old Covenant. Christianity and Judaism are not two separate things removed from each other. God gave Adam a command, and Adam broke it. God created a system of laws as well as the system of sacrifices knowing that the Law would be broken. God sent his Messiah, Jesus Christ, as the next step in His plan. He kept the Law perfectly, but also became our sin. God’s wrath toward sin was carried out on the cross, while Jesus took our penalty. The resurrection showed God’s acceptance of the sacrifice. We believe that Jesus now sits on the right hand of God the Father, and ever lives to make intercession.

    I’ve said a lot of Jesus being Messiah without answering the question. A good deal of the Law was not about moral issues, but was about setting God’s people apart. Eating kosher, for example, was a visible sign that the Hebrews were different, set apart by God to be a peculiar people. It is made clear to Peter in the Acts of the Apostles that those rules have changed. Keeping the commands about morality, and about honoring God, have not changed. Jesus said “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” Jesus commanded his followers to “Love God with all your heart, mind and strength.” And secondly to “love your neighbor as yourself.” These two commands cannot be kept while breaking any one of the 10.

    Your final question was about who keeps the life-giving commandments of God. The Jews keep the commandments; but they are not life giving. The Law only shows how quilty we are, and does not make us righteous. The Law shows we are sinful; faith in God’s grace through Jesus Christ saves from sin.

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