Thursday, April 2, 2015


“Does this Offend You?” – VII. “When Jesus Asks”

February 15, 2015

Psalm 25:1-10; John 6:52-66

“When you come to the fork in the road, take it.”

Do you know who said it?  (Yogi Bera)

It could just as easily have been Fozzie Bear and Kermit the Frog – in The Muppet Movie.

Today’s message is about The Fork In The Road.

The parting of the ways.


Among Jesus’ disciples…

There was a parting of the ways.

The parting of the ways happened because of Jesus’ teaching. 

(That is what we are told in this passage from John). 

Some of the disciples – people who had been with him all the way – up to that moment — went away.

They took the wrong fork in the road – the one that led away from Christ.

They departed. 

Down the other road they went.

And so…They were lost to Christ,

They were lost to the Kingdom.

One moment they were there,

The next moment, they were gone. 


They took offence at what he had been teaching.

When our NT passage says that Jesus was talking about people eating his flesh…  It sounds strange.

And it must have sounded stranger to the people who first heard it.

You see…We have read ahead.

We know that Jesus is talking about the gift of himself.

Like when he was in the upper room.

And took the bread and cup.

And said it was the gift of his body and his blood. 

Jesus is preaching a Gospel of pouring himself out for others. 

And some of them took offence at that.


The disciples, who took offence, had been expecting a Messiah who would be a conquering hero.

-         a powerful leader of fighters

– the battle would be fought

– the victory would be won 

-         The Roman oppressors would be sent back to Rome forever.

-         The people would be set free.

Contrast that with what Christ is saying here.

It is a different kind of victory.  A victory that sounded like a defeat to those disciples who took the fork in the road.

John says…

66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.’ 


Jesus said: Does this offend you?

And then, they left, because they took offence at the cost of discipleship. 

Oh they would have been willing to fight for the winning cause.

To do battle if the victory was certain. 

Yes, they thought they would have taken their place by the Messiah’s side in that kind of a battle.

So they could survive,

And come out of it wreathed in the laurels of honor.


But Jesus was talking about something else. 

Not a road that led to power and presage and influence,

But a road that led to sacrifice and death.

To eat Christ’s body and blood meant to participate in his death. 


“When God calls a person, he calls that person to come and die.”

(Dietrich Bonheoffer, who spoke of what he knew, a Christian, who was imprisoned and killed by the Nazis in the last century).

“When God calls a person, he calls that person to come and die.”

To live for Christ; to die for Christ.

Jesus said it in Capernaum.  It kept some of them from being with Jesus until the end. 

They departed.  Into the mists of time.

We know nothing more about them.

I wonder.  Did they have any idea of what they were giving up, when they went away?

Jesus is the world’s hero.  He just does it differently than they envisioned. 

Christ is more powerful than armor, and sword, and charging white horse, and trumpets sounding the attack.  He is so fine a leader, that he battles over sin, and in a war to overcome death. 


The Romans and all of their legions were insignificant—compared with the forces Jesus and his disciples would contend with.  A greater battle would be fought – a larger victory would be won – those powers that plagued humankind would be routed – by the road of compassion.  The road of Love.  The road of Service.  The road of faithfulness.  The road of Obedience.

Along the way there would be humiliation, abandonment, and death.

It would have all seemed so useless – except that it wasn’t.

Because in the end, it sent evil scurrying away.


“We believe what Jesus says and trust in what he has done…says the Christian, “We know about the Romans, back then.  And we know about the Nazis in the 20th century.  But look around.  It is still a problem.  Look at ISIS.  Why do we still have to battle the forces of evil and sin and death nowadays?”

          Scripture says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  Without God, people will choose the wrong fork in the road.  The one that leads away from God.  They think it is a short cut, but it is a dead end.

They are looking for a shortcut to whatever they want most. 

Today, there are forces in the world – like ISIS – that willful, bent on the harm of others, and engaged in evil, alarming acts that are broadcast into our homes by the news.  There are forces that claim they are doing things in the name of a twisted financial distortion of an ideology of sorts.  But they are thugs, nothing more.  Their motivation is the spread of terror and fear, and the dehumanization and destruction of others.  This is not a religion.  This is a group of sociopaths.  They have taken the wrong fork in the road.  They have cut themselves off completely from the ways of God and grace. They resort to all kinds of evil.  They do unspeakable harm to others.  And their road is a dead end.


The other disciples, who went the way of Jesus, made the right choice.  They were not offended by Jesus’ teaching.  They went forward, with him, in the spirit of our Psalm today:

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
    teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all day long.

Good and upright is the Lord;
    therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
    and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
    for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

Listen again to what Jesus says in our scripture passage: 

63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”

When you come to the fork in the road – stay close to Jesus.

Stay very very close, to Jesus.


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