“…. And they took offense at Him.” -Mk. 6.3b
Our fixed categories about God are always vulnerable targets, and the fact that we ourselves have fixed them is what endangers them so profoundly. In the times when our categories regarding the Lord are being tested and shattered, it is difficult to see it, but in the end we often find out that God Himself is the One resisting and pressing against that fixed idea of His nature or purpose.
God has never fit the expected mold of His people. All throughout the history of both Israel and the Church, He has been busting up fossilized themes and jerking the rug out from underneath the feet of those who have become casual with Him and His ways. When at once we presume we know His ways, but reduce Him to a category in our hearts, it becomes necessary for Him to remind us that He is not bound by our denominations, our revelations, our interpretations, or any such thing. He’s got to jolt us from our headiness, break the subjective trinkets we’ve grown to lean on, and grant us a recovery of the kind of awe and worship that befits those who have seen His majesty. Often the means by which He reminds us of His true nature are points of offense for us, and I am convinced that this will be a chief issue at the end of the age with regard to those who fall away from the faith on the one hand, and those who “endure to the end” on the other.
By the time Israel had grown accustomed to a silent and inactive God during their slavery in Egypt, He broke out with judgment against Pharaoh, raised up a deliverer in Moses, and demonstrated His desire for them by performing astounding works for their liberation from bondage. When they grew casual with Moses and slandered him, leprosy and fire broke out in the camp to restore the fear of the Lord.
When Judah listened to her professional prophets rather than Jeremiah, she found herself under judgment and exile with the guilt of idolatry and immorality on her hands. She had grown casual with her own interpretations of Yahweh, and He would have none of it.
When John the Baptist, imprisoned and feeling the weight of a death sentence, wondered if Jesus was the One, he sent messengers to inquire of the Lord. In essence, Jesus said, “I’m sure you expected me to overthrow Rome and set up the Theocratic kingdom. Here’s what I’m doing. I’m giving sight to the blind. I’m opening deaf ears. I’m driving demons out of people. I’m cleansing lepers. I’m preaching the good news of repentance and forgiveness to the poor.” John may have expected immediate judgment and national intervention, but the Lord wasn’t fixed in that category either, even though it had been promised by the prophets of old.
He is totally free from our earthly reckonings of who He is. That is why He is God.
Whatever situation we find ourselves in, however violently our categories are being shaken, no matter how unclear the future seems to us, we need again to take to heart what could have been the last words of Jesus to John the Baptist:
“Blessed is he who is not offended in Me.”
His ways are higher than ours, dear friends. Our calling is not to give definitions, but to worship the God of Israel, and He will bring all things to completion in His Son.