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Offended in Christ
August 26, 2019

     Jesus knew that His followers would face persecution.  This was true of those who were living during His earthly ministry and in our age as well.  Matthew 5:10-12 says, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

     In consideration of these things, He warns the twelve that they would be guilty of forsaking Him during the period of His unjust arrest, trial, and execution.  Mark 14:27-31 says, “And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.  But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.  But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.  And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.  But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.”

     One notes with trepidation the very last phrase of that passage, “Likewise also said they all.”  All of the Apostles with the notable exception of John forsake Jesus at Calvary.  Bible students may be overly critical of Peter at times, but the fact of the matter is ten others of the innermost followers of Jesus absconded when it became clear that things would not end well for the Master.  Matthew 26:55-56 says, “In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.  But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.”

     Peter’s part in the betrayal might be emphasized more because more space is giving in the Holy Writ regarding the details of his actions and words.  Peter’s offense at Christ manifested itself in the way he followed Jesus after His arrest—at a distance.  Luke 22:54 says,  “Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off.”  It provides one with comfort and ease in this world to follow Jesus at a distance.

     Nonetheless, one cannot follow Jesus at a distance and truly say that he follows Christ.  Many follow after the Messiah when it is convenient.  When one deals with peer pressure and has to make an unpopular stand, he is found hiding at the rear of the masses.  For many, this is easier than risking familial relationships and friendships.  When it comes to following after the Son of Man, one must be willing to forsake all worldly relationships—even the ones that are most important.  Luke 14:25-27 says, “And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.  And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”

     Peter’s betrayal was apparent in the words he used to deny the Savior.  Luke 22:55-59 says, “And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.  But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him.  And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not.  And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not.  And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean.

     The words of Peter stand in contradistinction to what he allegedly professed.  Matthew 26:33 says, “Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.”  At this juncture, one believes that Peter meant to do the right thing, but when it becomes too difficult, he changes his words.  Lest we be overly critical of Peter, Christians are guilty of doing the same thing from time to time.  If we are honest with ourselves, we can all think of times when we should have spoken up rather than let the moment pass.  We should continually pray for the courage to do and say what is right regardless of the consequences. 

     One reveals his thoughts and feelings by his words.  Luke 6:45 says,  “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”  If our hearts are filled with Christ (Jeremiah 31.33), our words will be seasoned with salt and things that are eternally important.

     Even though we should not be offended to follow Christ, there are some things about this world that should be offensive. Any ungodly behavior or communication should cause a feeling of offense in the child of God.

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