OFFENDING IN THE WORD
Matthew 15:10-14 When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” Then His disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” NKJV
This text has been one of my favorites over the years, especially from the beginning of this chapter. What is of special interest is what is stated in verse twelve. What is interesting is the statement made by the disciples regarding how the words of Jesus had affected the Pharisees. They were offended by the words of Jesus. This word “offend” is an interesting word. It is used in many places to refer to placing a stumbling block before someone so as to cause them to sin, or fall. This is something that, we., as Christians are commanded not to do. What, then, was the real offense caused to these Pharisees?
One definition for the word “offense” is “to make angry.” I believe that this is the meaning in this text. Our Lord did not say or do anything to place a stumbling block before these Pharisees! It was their own pride and strong faith in the traditions of the Fathers that was their own stumbling block. The Lord had simply, and powerfully pointed out their own inconsistency. This angered the Pharisees. They were offended, or made upset and mad at Jesus because He had exposed them for their true nature.
The disciples were concerned about this matter. They would not have mentioned this to Jesus unless they were concerned. Why be concerned? Because the Pharisees carried a lot of clout. They could make life difficult for the disciples and the Lord. Perhaps the disciples believed that they would need the strong conservatism of the Pharisees to win over the people. We really do not know the motive behind their concern. The fact is that they were concerned that Jesus had cause these people to be upset or angry with them.
Jesus’ response is very powerful. He simply states that if His father has not planted, or given the doctrine, then it will be uprooted in the day of judgment. The Pharisees’ doctrine was not founded upon God’s word. They could trace their beginning only to the revolt of the Maccabees. They had added to God’s commandments the Tradition of the Elders. They had expected God’s people to do more than was required from God. These and other reasons placed them in an unacceptable position before God. Jesus’ condemnation of their doctrine was justified.
Jesus then tells the disciples not to worry about the Pharisees being upset. They were not going to change their attitude. Those who would continue to follow them, or attempt to please them would fall into the ditch just like they would. This would fall into the category of casting pearls before swine.
Now to the real matter regarding this text. All too often we are afraid of offending others by our teaching. Granted, we should use some thought in how we present the truth. We should not go out with the intended purpose to offend others by condemning their doctrine. What I have seen regarding this idea is to avoid anything that is controversial. This is wrong. We must speak for the truth. However, the manner that we speak is important. This is the lesson that we can learn from the Lord.
Instead of jumping onto the Pharisees and out right condemning them, our Lord took a different approach. He exposed their doctrine in the light of God’s Word. He took something from the Word of God and compared it with their teachings. In doing this He exposed them for what they actually were. I believe that we can do the same today. If we want to expose error, we can do it the same way the Lord did. Present the truth in the light of God’s Word and expose error by God’s Word. This will either do one of two things. Convince those in error of their error or offend them. We are in the business of converting souls, not pleasing men. Once we can get this idea planted into our minds, then we can accomplish the will of God.
Galatians 1:9-10 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. (NKJV)