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John's disciples had just come to see Jesus and asked him if He was the Messiah. “Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.” Luke 7:22

Then Jesus added “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."Luke 7:23

What offense was He talking about?

5 Answers 5

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John had done a great work in preparing the way for Jesus, the Messiah. John had been the "voice in the wilderness" (Mark 1:2, 3, etc). John knew exactly who Jesus was and greeted him with the title, "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).

John also realised when Messiah came his work would diminish and so said, "He [Jesus] must increase and I must decrease" (John 3:30). John baptised Jesus and lost some his disciples to Jesus. Jesus recognised John's greatness and important role and said that "I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John." (Luke 7:28)

John had been imprisoned by Herod (Matt 14:3-5) and John must have known that he would never be released. He was human and his faith wavered. So he sent some his disciples to ask Jesus if Jesus was the promised Messiah, or should we expect someone else (Luke 7:19). I cannot avoid wondering if John hoped that Jesus might help him out of prison, but we are not told.

Jesus replied in the best possible way - look at the signs and wonders - this is evidence of Messiah's credentials. Then Jesus issued a very gentle rebuke to John - "Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me." John was not released but beheaded in prison by a capricious, vacillating monarch. By contrast Jesus eulogised John as a great prophet (Luke 7:24-28).

We see that despite John's greatness as a prophet of God, such people are still very human and need encouragement. [I am glad about this story because it encourages me.]

Note - the word σκανδαλισθῇ (skandalisthē) from "skandalon" means to entrap, i.e. Trip up (transitively) or entice to sin, apostasy or displeasure) in Luke 7:23.

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What offense was Jesus referring to in Luke 7:23? “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."

Luke 7:18-23 (NASB)

A Deputation from John

18 "The disciples of John reported to him about all these things. 19 Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” 20 When the men came to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, ‘Are You the [o]Expected One, or do we look for someone else?"

21 "At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind. 22 And He answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them." 23 "Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”

John by means of his disciples asked Jesus:, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” Most Jews expected that the Messiah would be an earthly king ,**( Jesus apostles held this view, Luke 24:21 )**John may have shared such a view, and perhaps expected that Jesus would do more than he was doing and would free him from his imprisonment.

At that time instead of telling John's disciples, "Yes of course I am the one who was to come! Jesus puts on an unusual display, He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind.

Then Jesus tells them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them.

In conclusion he told them:" Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” With this answer Jesus wanted to assure and satisfy John that He was the "Expected One" that would fulfill God's promises.

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  • I'm thinking that John was in jail at that time and probably thinking he would die soon. He must have been thinking dark thoughts. I would have been. What could Jesus possibly have done to cause offense to John? If it was John He had in mind?
    – Dan
    Mar 19, 2019 at 21:24
  • Dan: Many of Jesus disciples were offended by what Jesus said and thus no longer walked with him ,John 6:66 ( Read John 6:35-66) John in turn needed faith and discernment not to be offended by Jesus reply . Mar 19, 2019 at 21:49
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Offence as in not restoring the sanctity of the temple but prophesing its destruction instead.

Offence as in expecting a king of Davidic stature, but instead one who gives to Caesar what's due to Caesar.

Offence as in not being set free from the bondage of the Romans, but being set free from sin instead.

And John is precisely under such a physical bondage, being imprisoned by Herod, the manifestation of Rome's power over the Jews, and the Temple continues to be as corrupted as it had always been.

Christ is the stone the builder rejects, a stumbling block, causing many to stumble and fall and be broken.

Thus blessed is he whom the stone does not stumbles.

Salvation is not of works, for even donkey and Balaam prophesied, but the gift of faith, the assurance that is given only by God the Father, as Peter had to know that Jesus is Messiah.

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  • Hi @Ylzm Ma welcome to Stack Exchange, we are glad you are here. Please be sure to take the site tour (hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/tour). Thank you for your insightful observations--are you saying then that not being offended in Him is accepting what He does do in place of what people may have wanted Him to do? If so, a quick conclusion to that effect would help round out your answer. Thanks! Apr 6, 2021 at 16:42
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Besides the issue of whether Jesus was fulfilling John's expectation for the Messiah, several possibilities exist to explain why Jesus seems to speak of John as having been offended by him.

  • John publicly criticized Herod Antipas on account of his marriage to his brother's former wife. Jesus is not reported to have joined in this criticism. "Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife: for he had married her. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife." (Mark 6 17-18)

  • John taught his disciples to fast and refrain from drinking wine etc. "And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?" (Mark 2:18)

  • John may have been offended by the fact that Jesus recruited his first disciples from among John's own followers seemingly without permission. (John 1:35-50)

So: John may have been offended by what he considered to be Jesus' "soft" interpretation of the Law regarding marrying one's brother's wife. He may also have been offended by Jesus' seemingly lax attitude toward fasting and abstaining from alcohol. He may also have been offended because Jesus "stole" several of his disciples. Each of these issues has a basis in the Gospels. Based on the the fact that John seemed to be closer the the Pharisees on drinking and fasting we may also speculate that he differed from Jesus on other issues related to the Law as well, with Jesus generally representing a more broadminded approach and John taking a stricter line.

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I feel that this occasion speaks to a personal tragedy of John. If he was expecting to be freed from imprisonment, as he well might have been based on what Jesus was preaching about freedom for prisoners, his continued incarceration may have precipitated a crisis of faith. John's family friend, Jesus, was preaching freedom, offering freedom, but would not free John. How much pain would this perceived abandonment cause?

I understand this as a situation common to all Christians, when we expect concrete answers to prayer but none are forthcoming. Certainly I have prayed for healing more than once without any apparent change in my condition. How easy to slip into disappointment and from disappointment to taking offence. In fact, how can we escape from coming to this end?

I see this story as essential to the human condition. I think we live or die by the answers we find to this question.

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  • Hi Dan, welcome to BH.SE - thanks for your contribution! Please do check out the Site Tour to find out more about how the site and the SE format all work. This is a great first answer. It could be strengthened further by making clearer references to the source passage and any other passages you're talking about here. Biblical Hermeneutics is all about starting with the text at hand and interpreting it in its own context.
    – Steve can help
    Aug 29, 2022 at 9:02

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