Offended in Me

Two of John’s disciples ask Jesus if He is the Messiah, from the Bible video, “Jesus Acclaims John the Baptist/Come unto Me

Why did John the Baptist send two disciples to ask Jesus if He was the Messiah? Given the testimony which John had previously given, it’s not clear why he asked the question. (See, for example, John 1:29-34.) James E. Talmage gives a couple of plausible explanations, including this one, which I particularly like:

We have good grounds for inference that John’s purpose in sending disciples to inquire of Christ was partly, and perhaps largely, designed to confirm in these disciples an abiding faith in the Christ. The commission with which they were charged brought them into direct communication with the Lord, whose supremacy they could not well fail to comprehend. They were personal witnesses of His power and authority.

Jesus the Christ, Chapter 18: As One Having Authority (pp. 255-256)

The lesson for us as parents or teachers is simple: Sometimes instead of providing an answer to a question, send your student to learn for themselves. The answer will be more impactful to them.

Jesus responded to the question by pointing out the miracles they had just seen. “The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” Then, He added a warning in the form of a beatitude: “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me” (Matthew 11:5-6, Luke 7:22-23).

What does it mean to not be offended in Jesus? The Greek word for offended in this verse, skandalon (σκάνδαλον) is the source of the English word “scandal,” which sounds like something offensive. But the literal meaning of the Greek word is a stumbling block or a trap.

“Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me” (NIV, Matthew 11:6).

This connotation of the word reminds me of an experience shared by Elder David A. Bednar. When he was serving as a stake president, he had multiple opportunities to visit people who no longer attended church because someone had offended them. He would ask them this question:

Let me make sure I understand what has happened to you. Because someone at church offended you, you have not been blessed by the ordinance of the sacrament. You have withdrawn yourself from the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Because someone at church offended you, you have cut yourself off from priesthood ordinances and the holy temple. You have discontinued your opportunity to serve others and to learn and grow. And you are leaving barriers that will impede the spiritual progress of your children, your children’s children, and the generations that will follow.

And Nothing Shall Offend Them,” General Conference, October 2006

Sounds like a stumbling block to me.

After preaching to the Zoramites and returning to his home in Zarahemla, Alma considered the spiritual state of the members of the church. He saw, “that the hearts of the people began to wax hard, and that they began to be offended because of the strictness of the word.” As a result, “His heart was exceedingly sorrowful” (Alma 35:15).

The longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, contains 8 verses for each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Near the end of that psalm, under the heading of “ש Schin,” the second to last letter of the alphabet, we have this promise:

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

Psalm 119:165

Today, I will avoid the stumbling block of offense. I will strive to move past challenging experiences and will ask God to help me avoid becoming immobilized by things which bother me.

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