This one may come out of left field for you. But please indulge me for a moment. It is based on today’s reading from Luke 7:18-23.
John the Baptist has sent his disciples to Jesus to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”
At this time, Jesus has been doing many amazing works, curing people of their diseases and sufferings, ridding them of evil spirits, and granting sight to the blind. So Jesus tells John the Baptist’s disciples, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”
For John the Baptist, it is a matter of ensuring that Jesus is the one he is prophesying is to come, which Jesus assures him he is. As a sign, here are all these works that Jesus has accomplished. But to further reassure John, Jesus tells him, blessed is he who takes no offense in Jesus.
That’s kind of an odd statement, especially when we know that Jesus and John the Baptist are cousins. Surely John must have realized who Jesus was or is. This is where it comes out of left field for me.
Perhaps there’s a lesson in it for us in modern times. I think of all the things we hear about religion and faith and the Bible. All the things the religious preach and all the causes they take up. And I think of how often they forget to preach about Jesus himself. It’s not that the miracles he worked were his most important works, as life changing as they were for those involved. Indeed, many miracles continue to be attributed to him and they continue to be life changing. But often those miracles are made a side show for something else preached in Jesus name. And those can be offensive to many.
So this last line, “And blessed is he who takes no offense at me” jumps out at me as being from a Jesus who calls out to all who see the freak shows that are organized religion, which talk about all manner of other things but forget to talk Jesus and his messages and in the process turn off many people. He’s saying, “Please, don’t turn away from me because of them.”
When others seem to preach hate or call for injustice or say other terrible things in Jesus’ name, it isn’t Jesus who is calling for those things. Please don’t take offense at him because of them. Jesus loves us all. He speaks of it all the time in the Gospels. Those others who would speak in his name have just lost their way, and he has called them out in other scripture readings. And perhaps that was also Jesus’ message to John the Baptist, who may have heard conflicting accounts of Jesus even in his own time.
“Take no offense at me.” When you want to know, What would Jesus do or what would Jesus say, go to the source: The Gospels. Forget what the haters and the beraters say. In a way, that’s what John the Baptist did.