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The Scandal of God's Kingdom

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Jesus' love is such that even our doubts about him are not enough to keep him from pursuing us.

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Introduction

Matthew 11:1–19 ESV
When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, “ ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, “ ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”
One Friday during the last school year, I took our youngest son, Jeremiah, to school at 7:30 am. I always took him to school on Friday mornings because he participated in the school’s news team on those mornings. That particular day he was a little bit congested, but none the worse for wear. Then, at around 11 am I got a text message from Jeremiah. It read,
I know that I’m not supposed to be texting during school, but I don’t feel well. I don’t know if it’s allergies but I feel like I’m going to throw up at some point today.
And, of course, I respond and tell him that I’ll come and pick him up. So, as I am on my way to the school, I text my wife to ask her what Jeremiah’s teacher’s name is…She replies to me, “I don’t think you need the name. Just go to student services and they’ll find him.” I’m a bit skeptical about that reply, because I’ve done this before and I remember them asking me for his teacher’s name.
I get to the school, and go to the front office. The lady at the front desk asks me whether I’m here to pick up my child. I say, “Yes I am. His name is Jeremiah Ince.” As I am filling out the early dismissal form, do you know what her next question is? “What’s his teacher’s name?” I’m thinking to myself, “I knew it! Now I’m going to have to be embarrassed and say that I don’t know.” I tell her that I don’t remember. So she starts typing his name in the computer to search for him. But she has a puzzled look on her face because she can’t find him. She does another search, she tells me later that it was a school system wide search. She turns to me and says, “Jeremiah is in sixth grade.” I literally go down on one knee and put my head in my hands as I am utterly embarrassed.
Jeremiah goes to Mayfield Woods Middle School. I went to pick him up from Deep Run Elementary School. Now, mind you, I had just dropped him off at Mayfield Woods a few hours earlier! Of course, the ladies and the other dad who were in the front office got a good laugh out of this. If it were possible, there is no doubt that my face would’ve been bloodshot red. I couldn’t believe what I had done. By the time I get to Mayfield Woods and pick Jeremiah up, he’s wondering what took me so long.
What does this story have to do with our text this morning? Not a whole lot. Except at this point. The title of this sermon is, “The Scandal of God’s Kingdom,” and in our regular life experiences we have all kinds of events that might be deeply embarrassing, but they don’t rise to the level of something that is scandalous. If I run for public office, what I did that Friday isn’t something that becomes “dirt” in my past that an opponent can use against me. But there are things that can be scandalous and can be a mark against you in the public eye. And we find in our text Jesus showing his disciples and the crowds that being associated with him can be scandalous. Not because they necessarily do something wrong. But, as Stanley Hauerwas writes,
The kingdom he brings is one of gentleness and humility that cannot help but reveal the violence of the world…We will not, therefore, be surprised then, after Jesus has plainly said who he is and what he has come to do, that everything he says and does invites controversy and resistance.
So I want to look with you at these 19 verses in four points. We’re going to talk about The Scandal from vv. 1-6. Then, The Superlative from vv. 7-11, The Suffering in vv. 12-15. And, The Snare, in vv. 16-19.

The Scandal

Let’s situate ourselves in Matthew’s Gospel as we begin to look at the scandal from vv. 1-6. Here’s the structure of Matthew’s Gospel book. The first four chapters are essentially his introduction. Then there are five major discourses in the body of the book from chs. 5-25. And the conclusion is chs. 26-28. And after each of the discourses Matthew makes a bridge statement. Something like, “After Jesus finished these sayings, or these instructions, or these parables…” You’ll find that statement at the end of the Sermon on the Mount in 7:28. You’ll find it in 13:53, 19:1, and 26:1. What do we find in v. 1 of ch. 11?
“Then, when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went up from there to teach and preach in their cities.”
Guess where we are? We’re transitioning from a major discourse, the Sermon on Mission—where Jesus predicts opposition for the twelve disciples—to the section where we see that opposition explained implicitly and explicitly.
Here is one aspect of the scandal. Our passage follows on the heels of Jesus’ message to the twelve about the opposition they will face as they do the work of the kingdom. They are not to be surprised that their good work is met with suspicion, rejection, and persecution. If they are like Jesus, then others will react to them the way they reacted to him. “If they call the master of the house, Beelzebul,” Jesus says in 10:25, “how much more will they malign the members of his household.” Now he transitions to the implication of this for the members of the kingdom.
Matthew says in v. 2.
Now, after John heard about the works of the Christ while he was in prison, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one to come, or should we be waiting for another?”
Matthew doesn’t tell us until ch. 14 why John the Baptist was in prison, but he gets word that Jesus is preaching the good news of the kingdom of heaven, and that Jesus is doing the miraculous. John and Jesus had the same message. In 3:1 John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In 4:17, after Jesus is tempted in the wilderness, Matthew says, “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” So why John’s question now? John is the one who said to the people, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but there’s One coming after me who is mightier than I am. I’m not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Why is John doubting?
Let me say this to you please. Doubt is not the same as unbelief. To experience doubt as a believer in Jesus, to experience doubt as a Christian is not a cause for shame. It’s not scandalous. Sometimes Christians think that if they have any doubt about any aspect of the Christian faith they’re unacceptable to God. And this is often an aspect of Christianity that non-Christians don’t understand either. It is inherently the case, if you’re not a Christian, that you have doubts about it. You doubt the authenticity of the Bible. You doubt the authenticity of Jesus and his resurrection, his claim to be the way the truth and the life. You doubt the necessity of the salvation that he offers. You doubt the reality of heaven and hell. We have a culture that exalts skepticism. Dr. Dallas Willard, a philosophy professor at USC from 1965-2012, who was also a Christian, put it this way,
We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than the one who believes.
He was right to say,
If you’re going to be a doubter, be sure to doubt your doubts as well as your beliefs.
Here is the point that I am making when it comes to this issue of doubt. Doubt is not the barrier to faith for a non-Christian. Unbelief is the barrier to faith. It is a matter of the heart, not a matter of the intellect. For the Christian, the existence of doubt is not the same as unbelief. It is what arises in us when our experience as Christians doesn’t match our expectations.
John’s doubt here comes from his affliction. His expectation of the Messiah’s coming did not include his imprisonment. Jesus says to John’s disciples,
“Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.”
Jesus is assuring John, “You’re not wrong about me.” There was the expectation that the promises God made to his people in the book of Isaiah would be fulfilled. Passages like , , ,
Isaiah 29:17–18 ESV
Is it not yet a very little while until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest? In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.
Is it not yet a very little while until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest? In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.
And
Isaiah 35:3–6 ESV
Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;
We heard the prophet’s words in our call to worship and our Scripture reading this morning from ,
Isaiah 61:1 ESV
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
Isaiah 61:1–2 ESV
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;
Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
The year of Jubilee, when healing, wholeness, and salvation would come, Jesus says, “It’s here because I’m here. All of those expectations and promises are fulfilled in me.” The problem John the Baptist had was that when he was preaching he said that the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I’m not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” John is asking Jesus, “Where’s the fire? Where’s the vengeance of God? Isaiah didn’t just say that the blind would see, and the deaf would hear, and the poor would have good news preached to them. He said () the ruthless shall come to nothing and the scoffer shall cease, and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off. Isaiah said () that a highway called the Way of Holiness shall be there and the unclean shall not pass over it. Isaiah said () the Servant of the Lord would proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God. Where is it Jesus? Why, if you’re the one who is to come, am I in prison?”
Isaiah writes the song of the Messianic Servant in 61:1. The Servant declares,
Do you see it? Do you hear it? My expectations for how this thing is supposed to work isn’t lining up with the reality. I have an expectation of how the Lord is supposed to fulfill what he has promised to do. And Jesus’ response to John is a gentle rebuke. Remember our context? Jesus has just gotten finished telling the twelve disciples what the cost of being a disciple looks like. Now here is a living breathing example for them in John the Baptist. He is languishing in prison, a prison from which he will not be released, the place where he will be executed. The scandal of faith in Jesus Christ is that God is patient with sinners. And that means his people will suffer. They will live in this paradox of favor from God, grace from God, and hardship in life because they are associated with Jesus.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

The Superlative

The crazy thing is that even with John’s doubt, what does Jesus say about him to the crowds in v. 7? When Jesus talks about people doesn’t regularly describe them in superlatives. So, when we find him doing that we ought to pay particular attention.
Jesus begins to speak to the crowds, asking them questions in v. 7. Why did you go out to the wilderness? To see a reed being blown to and fro by the wind? Why did you go out to the wilderness? To see a man who was dressed in soft clothing? Look, the people who wear soft clothing are in palaces. But why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes. And even more than a prophet. He is the one concerning whom it is written, “Behold, I am sending my messenger before you. He will prepare your way before you.” Truly I say to you, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist among those born of women.
Isn’t that a bit much Jesus? You mean to tell me that John the Baptist is greater than everybody? Have you forgotten about Abraham? Have you forgotten about Moses? Have you forgotten about Ruth? Have you forgotten about King David? What about Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel and Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? The list could go on. Nobody greater than John? Jesus helps the crowds understand who John is. John can’t be disregarded by them because he’s in prison. They didn’t get it. Jesus will say down in v. 18, “John came neither eating or drinking and you say he has a demon.” But John was the greatest and more than a prophet because, as Stanley Hauerwas puts it, “he has the unique office to herald Israel’s Messiah.” John wasn’t great because of something inherent in John. John was great because he was the one Malachi spoke of in , “I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way.” He is Elijah who Malachi spoke of in , “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.”
Jesus tells the crowds in v. 14, “If you’re able to accept it, he is Elijah, who is to come.” And yet, the point of the superlative is the contrast that Jesus makes. As great as John is, the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John. It’s clear that Jesus isn’t denigrating John at all. And he’s also not talking about levels of membership in the kingdom of heaven. Membership in the kingdom of heaven isn’t like membership in a club. You don’t have your basic membership, silver, gold, and platinum. That’s how the disciples think, though. You find that in when John and James send their mama to Jesus to ask if they could have positions of power in Jesus’ kingdom, sitting at his right hand and his left hand. That’s not how Jesus talks here. Jesus’ statement here is intended to shock the crowds. He is talking about the great privilege, the immeasurable blessing of being a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. The shock value is that any old member of the kingdom is greater than John.
John was great, but he stood at the edge. He was the last of his kind, standing at the end of the old age and looking into the new. But he wasn’t all the way in. John’s day was not one of Jubilee. His day was one of desolation and exile and oppression. The new age is the Year of Jubilee, with the kingdom arriving in Jesus Christ. So, like the old American Express commercial used to say, “Membership has its privileges.” Why is it a privilege to be citizens of Jesus’ kingdom? Why is it better to be in his kingdom rather than out of it? To answer that question, we have to hear Jesus’ statement again in v. 6, “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” “Blessed is the one,” Jesus was saying, “who isn’t scandalized by me, who doesn’t find a reason for unbelief in me, who does not find a reason to disbelieve the things that I am saying and doing” (Ridderbos, 52). Jesus continually puts himself at the center of God’s kingdom, at the center of life. The privilege of membership is clarity. The person who is least in the kingdom of heaven doesn’t have more faith than John the Baptist, they have more clarity. As Dan Doriani writes,
“Those who lived later saw Jesus’ ministry to its end and so had a more complete revelation of Jesus’ ministry.”
The privilege of membership is clarity. Clarity on where your primary identity lies because you’ve seen the unfolding of Jesus ministry on your behalf. In the kingdom of heaven, the citizens of the kingdom seek to draw their primary identity from their relationship with God (Sherman, 48). A relationship that they didn’t establish, that they don’t maintain, that can never be destroyed, and that is rooted in the deep deep love of God.
This clarity of identity is necessary because Jesus immediately moves from this statement of privilege to talking about suffering again.

The Suffering

Right after he says that the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John, he says in v. 12, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.” There are all kinds of interpretations and various ways of translating this verse. The essence of it is, however, is negative in force. Jesus is issuing a warning to his disciples to prepare for violence; the kind of violence that John is experiencing as Jesus is talking. The kingdom of heaven suffers violence. The sense of that statement is most likely the straining and the difficulty with which the kingdom of heaven advances in this world. The NLT’s rendering of the Greek in v. 12 may be the most helpful one. “And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it.” The advancement of God’s kingdom cannot be stopped, but it’s no easy road because it is constantly under attack from violent people.
Let’s remember our context, where we are in Matthew’s Gospel and what’s being emphasized. Chapter 10 was Jesus’ Sermon on Mission that he gave to the twelve disciples. The emphasis was on the cost of discipleship. They should not be surprised that as they carry Jesus’ message of healing and hope and restoration and renewal, they are not met with celebration but are met with suffering. Their good work in Jesus’ name would not result in fame and fortune, but would result in misunderstanding and disregard and disdain. “Because the kingdom is powerful,” as Dan Doriani says, “it is also divisive. Its power arouses strong opposition.” What Jesus lays out in his sermon in chapter 10 is being worked out in chapters 11-12. Matthew is describing growing opposition in chapters 11-12. There’s more negative than positive in these chapters.
The presence and the message of the kingdom often creates a violent response because it includes the necessity of having the Lord at the center of our existence and not ourselves. The kingdom comes with the promise of peace. But the only way that we know how to pursue peace in this world is through violence. That’s because peace, whether it be nations at war, or families with internal strife, or sports teams that can’t get along, no matter what it is, peace for us means having things the way we want them. Why can’t our politicians achieve any substantive work and policies in Washington D.C.? It’s in large part because the way to get life as we want it in America is to beat the other party, have the majority, and be in control. That’s not the way to peace. It’s the way to ongoing strife.
I love what Stanley Hauerwas says about these verses,
The kingdom…comes through the peace brought by Jesus. This kingdom is not some ideal of peace that requires the use of violence for its realization…We live life…as if we are our own lords, our own creators. We respond violently to anyone who might challenge our presumption that we are in control of our existence. We do not want to be reminded that when all is said and done, we will all be dead…The kingdom [Jesus] brings is one of gentleness and humility that cannot help but reveal the violence of this world. Yet the very gentleness of the kingdom effects a judgment on those who refuse to believe that the love that moves the sun and stars is the same love that is found in this man.
So, if you’re a citizen of the kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ, it is necessary to have clarity about your unearned privilege because what Jesus says and does always invites controversy and resistance. Jesus has a mostly negative tone in our text because he’s primarily rebuking those who are offended by him. But let me offer you a word of encouragement and exhortation especially if you find yourself among those struggling to believe, especially if you find yourself among those offended by the things Jesus says and does. Don’t be content to dismiss the struggle. Don’t be content to ignore what’s offending you. God can handle that. That’s part of the scandal of his love. The love that moves the sun and stars in their course is the same love that is found in Jesus. That means his love is married to power. He doesn’t dismiss you as quickly as you might want to dismiss him. So, don’t ignore the struggle. Don’t dismiss the struggle. Let me encourage you to hear Jesus saying to you that you’ve got to get off the throne. You don’t call the shots in this deal.
I’m going to borrow from Haurwas again.
“That the deaf, the mute, the blind, the poor, those rendered helpless in the face of suffering recognize Jesus is not accidental.”
His point is that it’s only when you recognize your inability, your disability as it were, your poverty before God, that you can grasp the nature of his love and his kingdom.

The Snare

I can issue you that encouragement because Jesus issues it in v. 15. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Anyone with ears to hear should listen to and understand what I’m saying. Yet, Jesus knows there were many people who would not hear nor understand what he was saying. There’s a tone of frustration in Jesus’ voice in the last few verses of our text. He goes from the reality of suffering to the reality of the snare. And the snare is this, “When it comes to the message of the kingdom, you will never be able to satisfy everybody.”
Jesus asks another question in v. 16, “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” Children love to play make-believe…When their friends come over, they’ll make up games, and usually somebody is in charge. That child will assign roles and responsibilities. “You play so and so, and you be so and so…” And every once in a while, the child who has been assigned a role in the playtime production that he or she doesn’t want resists their assignment. “I don’t want to be so and so. I’m not playing anymore.” Sometimes, not with any of the children in here I know, but sometimes that leads to verbal and physical conflict among the children.
Well, that ain’t new. Jesus says to the crowds, “This generation is like a group of children playing together. Some want a make-believe wedding. I’ll be the musician, you two be the bride and groom dancing. But somebody doesn’t want to do a wedding. Ok. Let’s play make-believe funeral. I’ll do the funeral song, and you all will be the people who mourn. But somebody doesn’t want to play funeral either.”
That’s how it is with this generation, Jesus says. John and Jesus are the ones who are declaring what time it is. John came neither eating nor drinking. John’s diet was locusts and wild honey. John ate meagerly and impoverished life telling that generation it was a time to mourn over their sin. The king was coming and they weren’t ready to receive him. People might’ve liked listening to him, but they thought he was a little coo-coo. We’re not going to play along with you and mourn John. In fact, you might even have a demon.
Then Jesus talks about himself. The Son of Man comes eating and drinking. The Son of Man comes celebrating the arrival of the kingdom, good news, Jubilee. Jesus would go to people’s homes and eat and drink and share the good news of God’s love and grace for those who repent. That generation said, “We’re not celebrating with you. We don’t like the people you’re hanging out with. You’re a glutton and a drunkard. You’re a friend of tax collectors and other sinners.”
This is a way of Jesus saying, “You can’t win. You can’t please everybody.” The problem is that the preacher in Ecclesiastes was right. “There’s a time to weep, and a time to laugh; there’s a time to mourn and a time to dance. But this generation can’t discern the time!” They don’t play along because they don’t want to submit to the reality of God’s judgment or the truth of his lavish grace for those who don’t deserve it.
It wasn’t just that generation caught in the snare of never being satisfied or pleased with Jesus. But Jesus is right. Wisdom is justified by her deeds. That is, wisdom is proven right by its results. Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God. He is identified with divine wisdom. And the snare still exists, the dissatisfaction with Jesus still exists because in the wisdom of God he chose what is foolish in the eyes of the world to shame those who are wise in the world; he chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; he chose what is low and despised in the world so that no one is able to boast in the presence of God.
Listen, the center of God’s kingdom scandal for Matthew is Jesus’ words in v. 6. , “And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” There are two things I want to point out to you from this verse. First, he has used this word translated as “blessed” before. If you look at the opening words of the Sermon on the Mount in ch. 5, what do you find? “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” It’s valid to translate this word as “happy.” Jesus redefines what happiness is. Jesus declares and demonstrates happiness for his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount, and here he takes it to another level. Jesus becomes the final form of the Beatitudes. The summary of happiness is defined as faith in Jesus. This happiness is the embrace of living under the gracious rule and care of God.
This is why he says, “Happy is the one who is not offended by me.” The second thing I want to point out to you from this verse is that Jesus is describing this happiness with a negative. “Who is not offended by me.” The word translated as offended here does not simply mean taking offense at what Jesus says. He is describing unbelief. It’s the word that our English word “scandal” comes from. You can hear it in the pronunciation of the Greek word… It means to “lead to ruin,” “to give offense,” “to seduce to sin.” Jesus is referencing himself as the one through whom this offense, this ruin comes. You see, Matthew is setting us up. He’s setting us up for what will happen later.
We find this same phrasing in 13:57. The people in his hometown took offense at him (skandalizw). And Matthew says in 13:58 that Jesus did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. And we might not be surprised that the people in his hometown didn’t believe in him. But Matthew isn’t done yet. When we get toward the end of the book, and Jesus is at the Last Supper, in the upper room celebrating the Passover with the twelve disciples, he says in 26:31, “You will all fall away because of me.” It is the same phrasing that we find here in 11:6. Peter says in 26:33, “Even if everyone falls away because of you, even if all of them are scandalized by you, I’ll never be scandalized by being associated with you!” Jesus said to Peter, “I tell you the truth, this very night, before the rooster crows, you’ll deny that you know me three times.” Peter said, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And the other disciples said the same thing!
What happened? They all were scandalized by Jesus. When Jesus was being tried, condemned and crucified, they wanted nothing to do with him. Peter even invoked a curse on himself rather than be identified with Jesus in his suffering. This was about more than embarrassment. Jesus’ message to John was “identification with me is the definition of happiness, but it will at time bring with it a disdain from others. You will be scandalized.”
The blessing for you, and the blessing for me, is that even when fell away, even when the scandal of association with Jesus was too much for them to handle, it wasn’t the end…
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