Kingdom Wealth Series – A Leadership Dilemma

Every leader will be challenged, especially when trying to lead “stiff-necked, hard-hearted people, which  from time to time, we ALL are.  Jesus faced the same issue as he tried to lead people into the Kingdom.  
For many of us who assume the mantle of leadership, there is a particular danger of succumbing to unbelief.   Without question, leaders can find themselves questioning their steps and their strategy.  Leaders can be plagued by self-doubt.  The narrative of such can be: “Am I sure that this is way to go?  Is this the direction we should pursue?  Did I miss God?”
 
Considering this, we know that Jesus was the only begotten of the Father, that is, the only offspring to inherit the fullness of the Godhead in one person.  He was fully God and fully man.  I do not pretend to understand how the Trinity works and I fully doubt that any man does.  God gave him the Spirit without measure [John 3:34].  We also know that he “ . . . was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. [Heb. 4:15] so he was tempted to experience the self-doubt that we experience but he did not fall prey to it. 
 
In the sixth chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus responded to a demand that he show a sign that he was God’s messenger.   He responded by telling the crowd that he had come down from heaven.  Many were offended because they thought they already knew him.  They said, “isn’t this the son of Joseph? Don’t we know his mother?”  They argued earlier in the passage that Moses had given the people proof that he was sent from God . . . “Show us what you can do, Moses fed our ancestors bread in the desert.”  [MSG]
 
Jesus said ”  I am the Living Bread that came down out of heaven. If anyone eats of this Bread [believes in Me, accepts Me as Savior], he will live forever. And the Bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh (body).” [AMP]
 
This statement was a full affront to his crowd of followers.  The statement meant that anyone who fully commits to me will be alive forever.  They commented to him that it was a very hard statement assuming that he literally meant that they would eat his flesh.  
 
At this point, many left the site and the ministry, offended that he would ask that of them.  Jesus was regarded as teacher, he called himself a prophet but many hoped that he was the “chosen” revolutionary who would lead Israel out of Roman oppression.  The disciples had some knowledge of who Jesus was but it seemed fleeting.  They too struggled hearing him preach the Kingdom but not understanding how it would come to pass.  Obviously, they assumed a literal, physical Kingdom.
 
So when Jesus saw the departure of the other disciples, I am sure that gave him pause. There was a good number of followers who were offended and left.  He then looked at the twelve and asked “Will you leave also?” 
 
His statement to the crowd was that he was the Bread of Life to be consumed by those who were absolutely committed to him.  His question to the disciples was questioning how offended they were, their conviction and their commitment.  His humanity may have led him to believe that the disciples would leave.  
 
He declared to the Father in Gethsemane that he didn’t lose any of the followers given him, but he may have been tempted to give up, to throw in the towel, to question himself.  He had to endure the uncertainty, loneliness, and the burden of leadership.  So do we.

Rock of Offense

 Luke’s Gospel the 4th chapter illustrates offense in a very clear way as Jesus knew that the people of Nazareth bore some contempt that he would be bold enough and think highly enough of himself to make claims to some title or assume some kind of nobility due to the success he had in Capernaum. He quoted Isaiah and stated that he was the fulfillment of prophesy and that his personal calling was written by the great prophet many centuries before.
 The crowd responded by asking don’t we know this guy? Isn’t this Joseph’s son? They made themselves familiar to him thereby disavowing his claims but more importantly discounting the possibility that he could have been God-sent. This is an issue for modern Christians as we face the possibility of missing the blessings God intends for us by discounting those around us. Have you ever heard “This preacher is straight from the street, he used to date my cousin. I can’t believe a word he says . . . “ Anyone who would use this descriptive has been offended i.e. has created a way to stumble [and/or fall] because of an assumption created by virtue of their own thinking and reason.
 I Corinthians 13:7 states that love the love of God (Zoe love)  “believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things” which means that we believe the best in people, hope the best for them and deny that part of us that wants to belittle or negate what God can do in and through people.  Humans look for the worst in people and negate their positive aspirations.   Christ inspires us to hope for what people can be and expect that they can do more and better their service to God.
 This is a hard saying. So much so that when Jesus declared it to the people of Nazareth, they tried to throw him off a cliff.  Jesus understood the fervor that comes from this kind of offense, he admonished the disciples to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Matthew 10:16-18  This admonition needs to be kept even as we walk with Him.  We will sometimes be exploited or abused by those around us and when we experience this, we need to be aware that it’s happening, but not necessarily recompense those who want to exploit us.  One of the most common tricks played on baby christians is for their leftover unsaved friends to say, “you’re no different from me . . . ”   Unfortunately, they take the role of our enemy to accuse us and to confirm our sense of guilt despite knowledge that Jesus has paid for our sins and forgiven us. They are offended with us and it is easier for them to keep things as they are than to walk through the struggle of church and personal growth.  We have to keep praying for them and for the Lord to keep us away from being offended. 
Watch for Rock of Offense Part 2!
For an exhaustive definition, review this link to Blueletterbible.org:

Vine, W. E. “Offence”, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Blue Letter Bible. 1940. 24 June, 1996 11 Apr 2012. 
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