Stumbling Over Jesus

Luke 7:23 “And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me.”

Observation: John the Baptist is in prison and is about to be beheaded by evil King Herod and his wife Herodius. Knowing his life was nearing its end, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the one they had been waiting for.

Application: I have heard it taught that as John’s death approached, he was having a “shaky moment” in his faith, that he needed reassurance that he was not about to die in vain. But no, this is something else entirely. After all, John was called the “burning one” by Jesus.

This was not about weak faith rising in John; instead, it was about John’s desire to connect his disciples to Jesus. 

Until now, these men had followed John, but John knew he must decrease, so He sent them to question Jesus. Jesus’ answer gave clear-eyed evidence of who He is, then this strange statement: “and blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me.”

What did Jesus mean by that? In effect, He was saying, “Fellas, I know you are worried about John’s fate. You have come hoping I would set him free. But though I love him and though I desire that he be free, and though I have the power to free him, for purposes you do not understand I’m not going to do it.  John is going to lose his head.” He was warning that they were going to have occasion for great offense because it was not the Father’s purpose to rescue John.

What a profound thought: that if my heart is offendable, I will be offended, and it’s by Christ’s design. Christ calls me to lay down my rights, to die to self, yet offenses keep bubbling up over issues of life’s unfairness. Bad relationships.  Unfair decisions. Things keep breaking. People become sick and die. In 1 Peter 2:8 Jesus’ ministry is described like this: to be a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.

The very core of His purpose is to test me, to see if I have, finally, become unoffendable. If not, I will trip over Him every time. Any wounding I carry from the past becomes a stone over which I stumble, and that stone is Him. He knows that an offendable heart will keep me from the purity required of His Bride, yet He passionately yearns to be united with me. So He purposes to test me, to try me, to put rocks of offense in my path so I might learn, finally, to die to self, that I might enter into new life in Him.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I’m not sure what hurts worse: the offenses that come, or my awareness of how far short of Your standard my responses usually fall. Thank You for testing. Thank You for Your faithfulness to not give up on me. How I love You!

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