THE FORGOTTEN BEATITUDE1
I am certain most of us are familiar with the Beatitudes as given in Matthew. Opinions differ as to the actual distinct number of beatitudes ranging from eight to ten, however there is one “blessed be” that is positioned separately in Scripture and is most often overlooked.
This “blessed be” is recorded in Matthew 11:6.
“Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (KJV)
Let’s consider the context of this statement.
John the Baptist is imprisoned fearing he may shortly be executed.
He sends a close companion to inquire of Jesus if indeed He is the promised Messiah or should they expect another.
Jesus responds with this answer for John:
“Go and show John again those things which you do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”
Then He adds the tag phrase, “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
What did He mean? Consider the context of Matthew 15:10-12.
“And he called the multitude and said unto them, Hear and understand: Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a person; but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles a person. Then came his disciples and said unto him, know thou the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying.”
Ignorance is always offended by truth.
Law is always offended by grace.
Religious persons are always offended by the miraculous.
And ‘learned-lettered-leaders’ are always offended by simple faith.
It may be that John the Baptist was offended because of Jesus.
Just my opinion but I have to wonder at his question after having seen and declared “the lamb of God;” after seeing the Holy Spirit descend upon him and, after hearing the voice of God making His own declaration concerning Jesus, that being, “This is my beloved son.”
Why the question from John, “Are you the one or should we watch for another?”
The reader may wonder, what more do you need John!
However, put yourself in John’s shoes or rather in his shackles.
Perhaps John’s thoughts were something like this. I was called by God while still in my mother’s womb.
I was set aside to be the voice of one crying in the wilderness – prepare the way.
I have been absolutely faithful to my calling – denying all of the world’s comforts.
I was sure it was Him – I saw the dove descend – heard the voice of heaven.
Received the revelation that He is indeed the Lamb of God, yet . . .
Here I am in shackles. How can this be?
What more does God want of me?
John is offended because of Him!
As we are called into our own individual ministries, more often than not, we develop a picture of what we imagine our ministry will become.
And when the reality of our assigned tasks become visible, they very likely are nothing as we imagined.
And, we may find ourselves saying, “I didn’t sign up for this.”
“How come this is where I find myself?”
“I serve the King of Kings, why am I now in this mess?”
We, like John, have become offended because of Him.
Jesus reassured John that He indeed was and is the Messiah by reminding John of the signs and wonders that give evidence to His Messiah-ship.
But then He adds the tag, “Blessed is he that is not offended because of me.”
I would like to quote Vance Havner, a great Christian revivalist 1901-1986.
“It is nothing new to be offended in Jesus. More people have been offended in Him than in any character in history . . .We have murmured that we pray and do not receive. We gave our tithe and now we are in adversity. We were faithful to the Lord’s house and landed in a hospital. We prayed for our children and they became worldlings. We craved joy and peace but we are despondent. Across the street is an ungodly family that has suffered no loss, while our dearest was taken. ‘There is no use in praying. It reads very lovely in the devotional books but I seem unable to make it work.’ We were in distress, and the Lord ‘abode where he was’ and when He did appear we grumbled . . .All such grumbling means that we have not learned the Forgotten Beatitude. Anyone can believe during fair weather. There is a deeper experience and a higher state which not many reach, a state in which, no matter what happens, we are never offended in the Lord, a state in which, whether it makes sense to us or not, we still believe Romans 8:28. Habakkuk started his book pouting and ended it praising. And blessed is the man who can say: ‘Though I don’t get what I want; though I may sow much and reap little; though others get the plums and I get the sack, I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in the God of my salvation”2
John chapter 8 highlights four occasions by which one is offended by Him. We mentioned these four earlier but will now consider them in more detail.
- Law is always offended by grace.
“And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they said unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what do you say?”
Listen to the rest of the account.
“This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, ‘He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.’ And again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, ‘Woman, where are those thine accusers? has no man condemned thee?’ She said, ‘No man, Lord.’ And Jesus said unto her, ‘Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more.’” (John 8:3-11 KJV)
You see, law accuses whereas grace forgives.
Law offers no other recourse but judgment. But grace, upon the right foundation, offers forgiveness.
If the judgment demanded by law has been paid, then grace can be applied.
In this account the ‘holy men’ circle about a woman caught in the act of adultery. Trying to trip up Jesus they await his answer.
Bending down Jesus writes something in the earth in front of one of the accusers, probably the elder of the lot, as if he has not heard their question.
He stands and make the startling statement regarding ‘he that is without sin cast the first stone at her.’
He then returns to his writing in the earth.
I believe he was writing in front of each accuser about the circle, to each in their own turn.
The account says that, ‘when they heard’ – they didn’t immediately see what he wrote for each of them, but rather they heard their conscience!
Then, looking down at what Jesus had written to each of them – a personalized note – they dropped their rocks and walked away.
This is important, I believe, for the woman’s sin was a personal violation of the law.
And in response Jesus notes each accuser’s own personal violation of some aspect of the law.
If they had stayed and started throwing stones as the law demanded, no one would be left alive – except Jesus.
Instead, they walked away offended because of him.
Law is always offended by grace.
- Ignorance is offended by Truth
The rest of chapter eight of John involves the contrast between the Jewish religious leadership who are under the deception of “their father the devil” and are therefore ignorant of the truth which is embodied in Jesus.
Jesus claims in John 14:6 that, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the father but by me.”
And here, in John 8: 31-32 Jesus states: “If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
Free from what?
Freedom from ignorance!
Freedom from the law of sin and death!
The rest of this passage deals with the scribes and Pharisees arguing in their ignorance that since they are the seed of Abraham, they are right with God.
Ignorance is always offended by truth.
And in their ignorance of the truth, their arguments become quite sordid.
In fact, this is true almost every time truth becomes undeniable and unassailable.
Ignorance rails against the logic of truth.
Ignorance is offended by truth and here their ignorance was offended by the Truth.
- Religious persons are always offended by the miraculous.
There are many accounts to choose from but I will select the account given in John 9.
It concerns the man blind from birth. Jesus anointed his eyes with clay and spit and then instructed him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam.
He returned seeing, and the people took him to the Pharisees.
Religious persons are always offended by the miraculous.
A debate rages throughout the city!
“Are you sure he was the man born blind?” Yes, yes reply his neighbours.
“Get his mother and father in here. What have they to say?”
And they, being afraid to offend the ‘church membership,’ (see 9:22), reply, ‘He’s of age, go ask him.”
“Who did this?” the debate continues. He violated the Sabbath! He made the clay patties on the Sabbath! (good grief)
The man himself gives the more profound answer in verse 25: “Whether he [Jesus] be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.”
Religion is offended by the miraculous.
- Learned-lettered-leaders are always offended by simple faith
The above account in John 9 along with a similar account from Acts 4 also speak to this type of offense. These can be summed together with a consideration of 1 Cor. 1:27.
“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world, and the things which are despised, has God chosen, yea, the things which are not to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence.”
Foolish things such as mud patties made from clay and spit and speaking donkeys.
Weak things such as doves and such as old men.
Base things such as the jaw bone of an ass; a wooden staff and a wooden cross.
Things that are despised such as a Samaritan woman, such as a manger bed.
Things which are nought such as Sarah’s womb; a widow’s empty vessel or an empty tomb.
Returning to John 8:9 we read:
“And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out, one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last; and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.”
The woman was left standing in the midst the verse states. In the midst of what? Everyone but Jesus was gone!
The circle of accusers was non-existent. So what was she standing in the midst of?
The sins of her accusers etched by the finger of Jesus in the soil.
Jesus, in effect, forgave her sin, “Neither do I accuse you, go and sin no more.”
But, the sins of her accusers remained – etched still in the soil – a “writing upon the wall” for each of them.
And, instead of falling upon their faces and repenting so that Jesus could “Blot out the handwriting of ordinances that was against [them] which was contrary to [them] and take them out of the way, nailing them to his cross.” (Col. 2:14), they left the words in the soil.
Instead of finding offense they could have allowed Jesus to “wipe their slate clean.”
But they would not.
Instead they returned later and retrieved their rocks.
“And they took up stones to cast at him:” (John 8:59)
The learned, the scholarly, are offended by simple faith. They put ‘faith’ in things, whereas we, the foolish and the simple place our faith in the Creator of things.
“Blessed is he that is not offended by Me.”
So, what about us? Have there been times we have been offended because of Him?
Have we been offended of Him much like John when things got tough?
Have we found ourselves grumbling at our circumstances?
Listen to the following, concerning Weightlifters.
“It is called the principle of resistance. The man resists the weight by exerting his strength against it. The resistance causes him to grow stronger. And so it is with God.” God calls each of us to grow – to grow in faith, in righteousness, in love, in joy, in hope, patience, peace, perseverance in godliness. How do we do that? When you exercise the qualities of God against resistance, it causes you to grow stronger. The weights are whatever goes against the motion of what must grow stronger. So that which goes against love is the weight, the resistance that enables love to grow stronger. When it’s hardest to love, and you love regardless, your love grows stronger. When your circumstances are not conducive to joy, but you rejoice anyway, your joy increases. When it’s hardest to do what is right, but you do it anyway, when it’s hardest to hope, but you hope anyway, when it’s hardest to be holy, but you turn down what is not holy, when you feel like giving up, but you keep going, and when all hell comes against you but you shine with the light of heaven, that’s when you grow stronger in God and in all these things. So don’t despise the resistance, but give thanks for it, and make the most of it. Use every measure of resistance to exercise the good.” 3
So we grow stronger by pushing back against the urge to be offended.
We choose not to be offended because of Him because He is perfecting us.
He is our Potter. We must strive not to push back against His hands, and only push back against that which is trying to weaken us in our faith and trust in Him.
Let us resolve to count ourselves with the blessed who are not offended because of Him. Amen.
1 Peter Colon Israel My Glory March/April 2021 page 19
2 Vance Havner Israel My Glory March/April 2021 page 19
3 Jonathan Cahn Book of Mysteries Day 212
Father God we thank you for all that You are, for all the many ways you strengthen our love, our joy and our patience. We praise you for all the ways you teach us to grow in our faith and in our longsuffering. We express pure awe and wonder for the way You address each and every small detail of our lives. We humbly appreciate that because of Jesus and through Jesus our sins have been forever erased. As you continue to mold us into the image of Your Son we ask that You continue to remind us not to become offended because of Him. We lift up our community of faith and ask that You continue to uphold us during these challenging times. We especially pray for Britney that Your healing hand touch her eyes with the salve of healing and restore to fullness her vision. We thank you for Your word which brings light into our darkness and truth into our ignorance. We thank you for the accounts of simple faith expressed so beautifully that they encourage us in moments of despondencies, and which urge us on to exercise our own simple faith. Thank you that You have chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak ones to confound the mighty. This gives us hope. And though we be among those that are despised for Your name’s sake, we count it all joy to called Your children. We rejoice in Your goodness. We celebrate in the works of Your hands. We are exuberant to realized that we have been called the friends of Jesus. Bring the light of the gospel to our loved ones and our friends and even to those who despitefully use us. We look forward in anticipation at what you are about to do, in each of our lives, in our community, and in our land. Have your way Lord and may the circle of unbelief be shamed and scattered to the four winds. Grant us Your favour and Your peace as we push against the resistance of evil about us. We seek Your face, Your beauty and Your will this day and for the days to come. In Jesus’ name, Amen.