They took offense at him. 

You might find it surprising how often Jesus offended people.   There’s a great example in Scripture, when the people of his hometown are at first amazed and then take offense at Jesus.

The Greek word Matthew used for “took offense” is skandalizo.   It means to cause to stumble, to shock or offend.   It’s also where we get the word “scandalize.”   We might not normally think of Jesus as being scandalous—scandal is usually reserved for movie stars or political players.   But Jesus and his message can cause a kind of “scandal” in us as well.

Think about all the shocking things Jesus did and said:  he violated the rules of his religion by healing people on the Sabbath.   He told his followers that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood to receive life.   He said that the Messiah, whom devout Jews expected to be a military leader, would give himself up to a violent death.

In each of these situations and many more, Jesus was presenting a message far beyond anything his hearers had imagined.   He spoke of so much mercy, so much intimacy with God, so many blessings that he had in store for them.   They were not used to such a message.   They struggled with everything that unconditional love implied.

Of course it’s challenging—even scandalous—when you try to love as Jesus did.   But each opportunity that arises gives you the chance to move beyond your initial discomfort.   It invites you to extend your boundaries and step into a new way of thinking.

For instance, when you see a man begging on the street corner, push past your discomfort, put down your car window, and talk with him.   Give him some money or even your lunch for the day.   If someone has hurt you, and Jesus’ command to forgive seventy times seven times rankles you, ask him to help you overcome your pain, reach out, and take a step toward a healed relationship.

The gospel can appear to be scandalous to us because it asks us to go places we don’t expect and to do things that would never occur to us.   But it also brings us to a place that is better than we could have imagined.

word among us