Lord, what things have You spoken so that we won’t be offended? Well, all the way back in chapter 12, Your discourse began. You spoke of things to come immediately and in the future, You spoke of the fulness of our joy, and You spoke of the coming and function of Your Holy Spirit. Why did You share these things? So that we would not be offended. And what does that really mean?
When we see the word offended I think we think of being displeased. I think of someone having done something against me or that I’ve acted against someone else. But that’s not what You are talking about here. “Offended” comes from the Greek word “skandalizo”. According to Strong’s Concordance it means to “scandalize”; from the word for entrap, meaning to trip up. Think of it as something that causes one to stumble or “to be enticed to sin, apostasy, or displeasure.” In other words, “I have told you these things so that when they come to pass, you won’t be surprised or trapped by them. They won’t make you stumble or fall away because you know what to expect.”
Hmmm. In Matthew 11:6 You say, “blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me.” I have a choice. I can stumble over You and Your ways, or I can stumble over what the world throws at me. But I have a third choice. I can not be surprised, I can not stumble, I can be able to retain my balance, catch it without falling.
That reminds me of me a lot. I’m always stumbling. But most of the time, I’m catching myself or someone else is catching me. I can walk up to the sink on a clear path, set my dish down, immediately turn around, only to find my feet and their forward momentum are blocked by a dog who has laid in my path. The forward momentum of my upper torso hasn’t quite gotten the memo that the feet aren’t moving. But somehow, through some exagerated contortions I keep myself above ground. Even though it’s a shocker every time, I know what’s happening and my body adjusts.
Will I stumble over Your word, Your desires for me? Will they cause me to turn from You and avoid You? Will I get to the point where I don’t want to bear the hard times or the persecution that comes with being associated with You? Yeah, there’s a part that is displeasure, but it’s displeasure that leads to a response. Will my response be to fall away from You? This being offended, tripped up, displeased, is pretty serious stuff because it leads to betrayal and hate. And it even happens to believers. It happens to us when we aren’t fully prepared and it creeps up on us unaware. It happened to the apostles the night You were taken prisoner. They didn’t really get it and it threw their world and beliefs for a loop and tripped them up.
But that’s why You told them all these things. So that at the right time, after You rose, and after Your Spirit came to dwell in them, then it would all make sense. But until that point, until the Holy Spirit abides inside us, we can’t fully see. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all share Your warnings about the likelihood of us being offended. It’s a danger to each of us. But You prepared me ahead of time to be able to stand against being offended. When something throws me off balance, when something tragic or unexpected drops down in front of me, I don’t have to be like a scared, caged animal. I can respond in You. I can not be surprised. I can respond rightly and in hope and joy. I don’t have to be offended. It doesn’t have to take my focus away. I can still keep my eyes and hope on and in You.
It was so important for us to realize that these things would happen in our lives like this that only three verses later You reiterated the importance of paying attention to the things You told us. There’s a benefit in remembering, a benefit in recalling them over and over again. At the right time, we will understand. That’s the Comforter’s job.
There’s sorrow that comes with the hearing of Your words. It’s tough stuff. There’s loss and sacrifice. There’s pain and hardship. But for all that, there is greater reward in You. But, some things must be lost to gain what’s better, what’s more beneficial. Even You had to suffer and die and leave in order to bring us into an even deeper union through Your Holy Spirit. Because You understood all that was to pass and why, none of it tripped You up. And it’s Your desire to give us that same kind of understanding. It’s why You planned for Your Spirit to indwel us. He makes it all clear. He instructs. He strengthens. He glorifies You in us. He takes of You and shows You to us.
You used to speak in “veiled” messages, in proverbs. I think that was a test to see who would be offended, who would stumble. But with the coming of Your Spirit, You boldy, publicly, plainly, frankly tell us and show us the truth about You. And it’s not just the truth as in facts about You. You show us about You. You share Yourself and Your Father with us. It’s not just a knowledge of Your Word, but it’s a personal knowledge of You.
When I read Your Word or I spend time in prayer with You, I ask questions. You answer them. I boast on You. You boast on me. You lavish Your love and gifts on me. I want to lavish You back. So, I lavish that love on others. You speak to me directly. You don’t have to be the one praying for me any more because You have given me the Holy Spirit to abide in me and to reveal the Father to me and to form a direct relationship between me and Him.
These things You spoke that in You I might have peace. No matter what is going on around me, I can be courageous and victorious because You already overcame what I am facing today. You have already overcome whatever I will face tomorrow. And You have not only prepared me verbally to be aware of what will fall my way, but You have prepared me in the power of the Holy Spirit to be equipped with every attitude, every piece of knowledge, every scrap of immeasurable power, strength, courage, I need to overcome in You.
Lord, I have not achieved yet. I am still learning. There are so many things that want to knock me for a loop and knock me off the path. There are so many things that want to beat me down. And if I focussed on them, I would be depressed all the time. But You already warned me. And I don’t have to keep my focus on them. I need to keep my focus on You. I will have trouble, really big troubles. I won’t be able to humanly handle them. But that’s the good news! I can be of good cheer; You already overcame them. And because You died and rose again, You live inside of me. So, the Overcomer is right here inside me making me into an overcomer. I am supernaturally encouraged! I am supernaturally equipped in courage. I am supernaturally strengthened in You. I am a supernatural overcomer. Lord, don’t let me miss out on rejoicing not only in this truth, but rejoicing in the middle of these hard situations. I haven’t been very good at that lately. Lord, I need to be joined in with You. I need Your peace. I need to live in it, in You. I need to find my quietness and rest in You in the middle of all this junk. Though I lose everything, Lord, I need to prosper in You, I need to gain You more. I want You to be my prosperity. I want my relationship with You, my God, to be what makes me rich and what provides all my need. To know You intimately and to be known intimately by You, to basque in that relationship, that is my prosperity gospel, that’s my peace and my strength, You.