“As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion [Zion] a stumbling stone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed” (Romans 9:33).
Men hardly know what to love and what to hate. They seem to cling to those things, which will most certainly destroy them and their families. They hate those who seek to free them from their folly.
We run a small school, not far from the elephant jungles at the foothills of the Nilgris Mountains. This school provides employment for four unemployed young women. There are only twenty-six children on the rolls.
About 5 miles away from our school, closer to civilisation, there is a large High School, whose founder, a charitable and philanthrophic man, has one pronounced quality—he hated anything which has to do with Christ. One of our young men, who had been healed and transformed miraculously by the Lord Jesus, visited some of the High School boys there to talk to them of the Saviour, once a week, under the shade of the trees. This otherwise charitable man objected to this informal meeting. Our young man, who had himself been an inordinate idolater once, discontinued the meeting. I would like to meet this man and speak of the irresistible beauty of Jesus.
So many just know no better. They meet some nominal Christian who is a crook, or probably they have known a Mr. Peter or a John, well-known church men speaking lies unashamedly, or they have been told by a wholly prejudiced parent: “Avoid everything that has to do with Christ or Christianity as the plague.” So their minds are totally shut against Christ. Doubtless, this is a rather ignorant attitude, but it’s there, even in apparently knowledgeable circles. Besides all this of course, there is in the heart of every sinner a strange unjustifiable antipathy towards Christ. The devil teaches everyone who belongs to him to hate Christ.
The Bible says, “I lay in Sion [Zion] a stumbling block and Rock of offence.” What a name for Jesus, Rock of Offence! We involuntarily shy away from people who emit offensive odours. I hate the smell of fermented liquor. Most sea-front shops in France have a strong odour of beer. I can smell beer from the breath of the people. But what can be offensive in the adorable Saviour Jesus? Why stumble at Jesus?
I sometimes ask people, “What has Jesus done against you? Why do you hate Him? What has Jesus done against your country or your family?” Of course they have nothing to say. It’s a blind, irrational, mindless hate.
God wants us to obey Him and His word. Now that is very unpleasant and undesirable to men. They want a freewheeling, self-seeking life, wherein all is grey and therefore acceptable and nothing is black. God’s word the Bible sheds such light, that nothing is left in doubt as to whether it is black or white. The Bible calls a spade a spade. Sin is sin and unrighteousness is unrighteousness. There can be no quibbling about it.
Men can be most unreasonable. Why don’t people say: “Why should I be required to drive on the left or right side of the road according to the law of the country? I want freedom to drive whichever side I fancy driving.” That way you will soon land in the morgue, in driving like a madman on the wrong side of the road. No sensible man will talk like that.
But when it comes to the Lord Jesus a wholly unreasonable attitude is overwhelmingly present: “Why should I yield my life to Jesus, I prefer to live my own life!” they exclaim. We like to run away from places infested with serpents and poisonous reptiles, or a place where cholera is killing men by the hundreds. But why run away from Jesus?! Why stumble at Jesus?!
A woman, who had hated the Lord Jesus greatly as a young girl, told us her amazing story. Studying in a Christian school, this girl once flung the Bible across the room in anger. Her Hindu father admonished her, saying that she should never do such a thing with a sacred book. Yet she continued to hate Christ for no apparent reason. One day as she looked at some beautiful flowers, she said: “The Lord who made these lovely flowers must be Himself exceedingly beautiful.” Yet she could think of none of the deities she knew who fitted such a description, a most beautiful God. While she hated the Lord Jesus she could think of none else who could be thought of as being impeccably lovely. The Lord Jesus then met her, forgave her sins and satisfied her heart completely. She forthwith declared her faith in Jesus to her family.
Her dad and elder brother were quite upset. They tried hard to dissuade her from following the Lord Jesus. Then threats followed and then savage thrashing which included belabouring her mercilessly with their shoes. Under one such hail of ferocious blows, she fainted. When she regained consciousness, she began to sing of the Lord Jesus. Then they set upon her again with unrelenting fury.
Finally, when they found that the vicious beating which they repeatedly gave her produced no results, they called for a guru who claimed to have magical powers. They were convinced that their girl was under a spell or a demon-possession.
They shut her in with this guru, who sat right in front of her, fixing her with his mesmeric gaze. He started and stared and [became] quite exhausted with his incantations and tricks. They all seemed to have no effect on this girl of tender years. Then he fled from the room, saying, “The power, which is in this girl, is greater than all the powers at my command.” The Rock of offence, Jesus, had become her adorable Lord and Saviour. What a deliverance from blind hate and unreasoning antipathy this girl found!
Is my precious Saviour, who has been such an unfailing friend to me, since my youth, still the stumbling stone and Rock of offence [to] you? Down through history, there was never another so unreasonably set aside as Jesus.
But hark to the promise of God, “He that believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.” This is true. I have proved [this to be the case] tens of millions of times. Will you also make Jesus the Chief cornerstone of your life? Then you’ll never be shaken, never be put to shame.
Never be ashamed of Jesus. Never say, “I will lose my friends and my standing in my office.” The Lord Jesus knows how to lead and guide His own children, such that they are not plunged into confusion.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon