The Grapes of Wrath, #91

Warning: This is a hard one!

“Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but on whomever it falls, it will shatter him.””

Luke 20:18 (context. 9-16)

Who wants to fall? Not me. This very blunt declaration has to be understood by that which immediately proceeds it: the “Parable of the Vineyard Owner.” This isn’t one of your nice ‘run-of-the-mill’ parables either. It’s got some real teeth.

It really is a potent stuff. The authorities–over, and over have rejected God’s prophets–everyone that he has sent. They do this continuously–history really does repeat itself. Finally, God finally sends his Son, and they decide (quite coldly) to kill him, and take the vineyard over for themselves.

Disobeying the voice of the Holy Spirit is a terrible thing.

And I’m afraid it’s done fairly consistently. He speaks over and over to us, but we’ve disobeyed him so often we can’t hear him anymore. His voice is often a quiet one, and we no longer really look or listen for it. Dear one, I’ve been in ministry for over 35 years, I’ve seen it up close, I’ve seen it in myself.

When we repeatedly ignore his voice, we’ll find ourselves in spiritual silence. We’ve now become spiritually deaf.

And guess what, we won’t even know it. We think we’re doing okay spiritually. But we really don’t hear him anymore. And that’s precisely what the leadership of Israel has done. They no longer hear him. Read their response. They don’t believe this parable, (maybe they think it’s funny?)

“When the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders heard this, they said, “May it never be!” 

(verse 16b)

That really should disturb us–and it’s frightening. But you must understand, it’s not confined to them–it’s launched at us as well. His parable travels through the centuries, and nails us. The translation of that particular “promise” in verse 18 might help clarify any ambiguity we might have:

 “Anyone falling over that stone will break every bone in his body; if the stone falls on anyone, he’ll be smashed to smithereens.”

(v. 18, the Message)

It’s a promise. We’ve got this tendency to think of God’s promises as wonderfully positive. But this promise is scary. The price of ignoring Jesus has consequences, and these “chosen” people are about to discover judgement. They have ignored him for the last time.

The nation of Israel will be destroyed by the emperor Titus. The ancient historian Josephus wrote that he killed 1,100,000 Jews and they carried 97,000 as slaves to Rome. 

At this particular moment in time, it’s critical that you learn to hear what the Spirit is speaking to you.

You’ll need to learn to distinguish his voice through the world’s static. But we much rather keep the status quo, and simply ignore this dark moment. We don’t want to listen that close. Maybe we’ll become “weird.”

Perhaps you’re afraid of what he might say. Maybe you’ll need to turn away from something that is causing you to go deaf? But I must tell you, hearing him is a joy. I guarantee it’s worth it. It’s what you were created for!

“One of two things you must do; you must either receive Him or reject Him. You receive Him here and He will receive you there; you reject Him here and He will reject you there.”

    D.L. Moody

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Please, Don’t Be Offended, Entry #33

“And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Matthew 11:6, (context, vv. 2-6)

Being “blessed” is much more than having lots of money, a nice home or a fancy new car. First and foremost being blessed must be a spiritual word–it seems sometimes we have to rescue the true definition and then bring back its real meaning. The old hymn exhorts the enriched Christian to “count your many blessings, name them one by one.” Singing this will work something inside us.

We become spiritually prosperous when we begin to embrace the reality of Jesus–His words, actions, even His very person becomes the dearest thing we could ever dream of possessing. We’re also blessed when we receive deep inside us the many challenging things He says. We really must absorb these harder words without any reservations. It seems that He doles these things out very carefully.

We have to admit that being scandalized over Him is always a possibility. It can happened to a pastor, or a ‘newbie’ in the faith. No matter who we are, we’re always in the arena, being watched, and our faith in Jesus will be tested. Is it real? Will we be insulted or affronted by the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ? That dear one, it a very real possibility.

Jesus still offends people. There were those who embraced Him, and yet it seems to me that most ended up resisting and rejecting Him. He was a ‘wrench in their machinery,’ an obstacle in their theology. He was constantly doing things that didn’t seem right or proper.

Does Jesus offend you?

“When Jesus came to earth, demons recognized him, the sick flocked to him, and sinners doused his feet and head with perfume. Meanwhile he offended pious Jews with their strict preconceptions of what God should be like. Their rejection makes me wonder, could religious types be doing just the reverse now? Could we be perpetuating an image of Jesus that fits our pious expectations but does not match the person portrayed so vividly in the Gospels?”

-Philip Yancey, “The Jesus I Never Knew”