Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Offender, The Offended, and Jesus

I have edited this message which Uncle Joe (1915-1996) wrote in private almost half a century ago. As usual with the things he wrote, one can sense both his wisdom and his struggle with putting forth what he saw in words. Hopefully, with my few additions and clarifications, I have made the wonderful insight of his message more accessible to the reader. Uncle Joe and I were kindred spirits, and knowing what he meant to say made my task much easier than if I were editing the message of a stranger.

I hope you will enjoy this and other messages from Uncle Joe, written in private after he was healed of cancer in 1959, but that are now being salvaged from his papers, typed and made public. In this one, he is trying to describe a place with God that is only found in the Spirit.

The Offender, The Offended, and Jesus
Joseph H. Murray

As long as we are among those offending "one of the least of these" or among those being offended by "one of the least of these", we cannot be of help to either of those two groups. In fact, we are found to be in one group or the other, needing help ourselves.

Before one can be used of the Lord to help God’s people, we have to move from the stage of being an offender or from the state of being offended at every little thing that comes our way -- and move to the plateau of which Paul wrote when he said, “none of these things move me” (Acts 20:24).

It is written, “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea” (Mark 9:42). No one can be offended unless there is an offense in him, because we cannot reap anything that we do not sow. Therefore, we should depart from all sin so that no one could sin against us.

If we are liars, we should stop being liars so that no one could lie to us. We should stop deceiving others so that we could not be deceived. Again, I say, we can only receive into our basket what we have it open for, and what we already have in it. If a trash basket, we receive trash. If a vessel of honor, we receive the good things of God and things that are honorable.

Jesus never puts any one down but draws both the offender and the offended to the same level. When he was arrested in the Garden, this happened: “And one of them [Peter] smote the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. Then Jesus [rebuked Peter and] touched his ear, and healed him” (Luke 22:50,51). Here, Jesus put Peter and the man whom Peter wounded with his sword on the same level. He rebuked his disciple and helped his enemy. They both needed his righteousness.

Again it is written, “Then said Jesus unto Peter, put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it” (John 18:11). Then said Jesus unto him, "Put your sword back in its place, for all they that take up the sword shall perish by the sword” (Matt. 26:52).

On another occasion, Jesus stood on the stage of one of life’s tragedies, “And the Scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what do you say? This they said, tempting him, so that they might have something by which to accuse him, but Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
"So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
"And then again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground, and they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
"When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? She said, no man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more” (John 8:3-11).

It is a pity that those Pharisees and Scribes did not stay around long enough to hear Jesus speak those consoling words to this wretched woman, for neither would he have condemned them for wanting to throw stones but not being able to. He would have spoken the same words to them: "Go and sin no more.”

In doing what he did on this occasion, Jesus demonstrated that, to him, the offender and the offended in this world were on the same level. And he was able to help them both because he was neither one.

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