“Peter answered and unto Him, Though all men shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended.” (Matthew 26:33)
It’s a capital “offense”. Get it!? *ahem* Sorry. The above verse would be an example of a “bad offense”. What do you think of when you read the word? What’s the last thing that “offended” you? Assuming you drink milk, was it the whiff you got when you went to get some from the fridge for your cereal the other morning only to find it spoilt? Did it offend your olfactory sensibilities? I have a habit of rating things and I’ll use the word “favorite” or “fave” a lot. It’s a childish thing, I think, but I am learning not to use that word when describing something I detest. Like, “my least favorite ‘rotten’ smell would be potatoes”. More like, “on the list of Smells: Rotten, potatoes is at the bottom.” Granted, I don’t appreciate any on that list (ask me to show it to you if you ever see me). In other words, they all offend me. But rotten potatoes are the worst.
“Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” (Psalm 119:165)
The King James words it “offended” and elsewhere spells it “offence” but the idea contained in this word and in this context is “fall away”. “From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.” Writes John (6:66). Occasionally, Jesus will come across as someone you don’t even know. And we’re tempted with offense. I appreciate the confidence David expresses by way of rhetorical question in Psalm 139 (verse 7): “Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?” God’s never going to let you go. He may need to reorient the way you see Him, a little. And the only way way can come to know God in this fuller way—the fuller way He wants to introduce Himself to you—is to let Him lead us into higher and further realms of life than those to which we’ve become accustomed. Often he uses people or a mixture of circumstances we can’t unravel on our own (often involving and including said people) to show us another side of Him that we didn’t know before (remember: people symbolize Him). My opinion is that by remaining childlike through life and therefore close to Him, we prevent successive revelations of God’s character from appearing hard and jarring. We want to know Him better and better, that’s a given. Peter was most definitely “offended because of [Jesus]”. Jesus said he would be in the very next verse. I suppose when you’re this close to Him, He can tell you direct things relating to your future. The main point is that of remaining close, remaining childlike.
Calling it good
“And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? Then is the offence of the cross ceased.” (Galatians 5:11, emphasis mine)
So, what Paul is saying here in the above is that because of Jesus’s fulfillment of the Law (see Matthew 5:17) and the ushering in of a state of Grace, those hangers on—the ones who thought they could get to God on their own terms and by their own works—were “offended”. When the Lord has you “preach the cross” or even mention it, there is this abrupt abutment between one worldview that says we must pull ourselves up by our bootstraps–essentially meeting God on our own terms–and the worldview Jesus preached. And whether that opposing worldview is couched in a sort-of religious pharisaism or is merely humanism on its best behavior, it stands diametrically opposed to the way Jesus lived.