Why Is Jesus A Stumblingblock?
I was going to write about what
we as humans stumble over but after
pondering a bit, I think that it
is wisest to take a look at why
we stumble over Jesus or, for this
article, why those in the time of
Jesus, stumbled over Him. There really
is a lot more cause for stumbling then
we think or would want to acknowledge.
We can not be so self-righteous to
think that we, even as believers, will
not stumble over Jesus.
If we understand what raises our ire,
whether in God or man, we will see much
more clearly why we stumble so easily.
There are some unique things that we
could stumble over in Jesus but some
of the things we will stumble over in
Him are things that we will stumble
over, at least in principle, in others,
especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.
As I started to make a list of reasons
why Jesus is a Stumblingblock I decided
to start with Matthew’s gospel and go
through the gospels. Amazingly, for the
sake of time and space, I am only going
to list some of the reasons for stumbling
that I found in Matthew’s gospel alone.
The amazing truth is that stumblingblock
material leaped off every page and are
part and parcel of Matthew’s account of
the gospel. I promise you at some point
I will get back to Mark, Luke, and John’s
gospel to look at how Jesus is a
Stumblingblock there, also. But now, here
is the cause for stumbling as told by Matthew.
Why is Jesus a Stumblingblock?
Jesus threatens human thrones (Matthew 2:3ff).
When King Herod heard that the wise men were
coming to worship Jesus, he was threatened.
He sinned grieviously in trying to protect
his throne. Herod stumbled over a kingdom
and a throne greater than his own. He could
not bear not being the highest power.
Jesus had more spiritual authority and
acumen than the religious leaders of the
day (Matthew 7:28). He has so much
authority that no one is able to argue with
Him (Matthew 22:46). He was also able to to
silence the Sadduccees and religious arguers
(Matt 22:34). Anyone knows you can’t silence
religious arguers without causing a major stir.
People like to argue to try and show their
knowledge. If their lack of knowledge is
publicly revealed, trouble is sure to follow.
Jesus does not pay attention to political,
social, or religious correctness or tradition.
He eats with tax collectors and sinners
(Mat 9:11); doesn’t fast (Mat 9:14); plucks
grain on the Sabbath (Mat 12:1-8); and heals on the
Sabbath (Mat 12:9-14). He allows a woman to touch
him in public, lets her wipe his feet with her
(God forbid) HAIR, and allows an extremely
expensive vial of perfume to be poured over
Him while the poor, perhaps, are starving!
There is nothing like crossing the established
boundaries of male/female relationships and
broaching the subject of alleged waste by
religious leaders that will stir up the hackles
of the religious bean-counting populace.
Self-appointed chaperones and the Galilean
Auditing Group, Inc, though apparently
looking out for the greater public good,
are sure to be offended into revealing
their true hearts. These are the people
that have the National Inquirer of the Galilee
Report-a-Drama line set in their telephone
Futhermore, He is not religious enough,
not ascetic enough, not sad enough
(Mat 11:17-19)and apparently doesn’t wash
His hands enough (Mat 15:1-2). He doesn’t
want to dance to popular tunes, nor with the
movers and shakers who could help Him shape
His career, or hopes for the presidency.
Yet He is found way too often in bars.
His family lineage is not blue-blooded enough
although God values Him enough to teach Him
directly and give Him the Spirit without measure
(Mat 13:53-58) (Matthew 3:14-17).
Jesus insults religious hypocrisy (Matthew 7:1-7)
(Mat 15:14)etc, etc, and won’t produce a sign
on demand (Mat 16:1-4). He also makes judgments
on peoples, towns, and cities that will not
receive Him well (Matt 11:21-24, Matt. 10:13-15).
Who is He to judge us? Indeed.
He flat out says that He would divide
families (Mat 10:34) and He puts the
importance of the spiritual family
over the earthly family (Mat 12:46-50). He
has a tongue-in-cheek attitude toward human
government and our obligations to it
(Mat 17:25-27). Christian political and family
caucus’ take note. I hear the pens of the
conservative pundits beginning to scratch
He deliberately hides things from the wise but
reveals them to babes and the simple
(Mat 11:25)(Mat 13:10-17). Did you see the article about Oxford University threatening that Wycliffe Hall
must provide a liberal education to its
students and any outbreaks of evangelical
furvor will not be tolerated?
He announces He is not only able to heal
but to forgive sins (Mat 9: 1-8)and puts
Himself on a par with God, allegedly
blaspheming (Matthew 26:64-65).
My dear readers, Jesus is not a good teacher
if this is not true. He would not be good
His authority and ability to successfully
summon people to follow Him, out of their
old lives, leaving the religious
system to fend for itself, is substantial
(Mat 21:45,46) (Matt 8:34ff) (Mat 9:32ff).
He does not act according to His followers,
or anyone but God’s, expectations (Matthew
26:31-35)(really, the whole book of Matthew,
all the gospels, and the rest of the bible!)
I could go on to say that He has the power
to turn losers into winners and winners into
losers (Mat 16:13-19, Peter’s confession). He
has the final say period. The Father blesses
Him without measure and exalts Him above every
other name. He has the power to thwart human
agenda. He does good to saint and sinner alike.
He is spiritual and not fleshly. He is Light
and not darkness. All of this and more must
be for another day.
I will say that as you read through this list
I would ask you to see how much cause for
stumbling is here, not just for the original
stumblers but for you, yourself. Do you really
think that the cloth you are cut out of is
much different? You, I, need to do some
serious spiritual work regarding
how Jesus cuts across our lives. Of course
we say, “Well, He is God, so we mustn’t complain,
but in our hearts we do complain or we begrudge
Him in the deepest depths of our hearts, His
rightful place. Unless you can say that every
part of your heart, is gushed open wide, running
heading over heals toward God in absolute full
throttle adoration, you still have work to do.
Before you think this does not apply to you,
After we get done taking inventory about how
we might stumble over God, then we need to
take this a step further and see how many of
these issues will cause us to stumble over
man—even or especially our brothers and
sisters in the Lord. Does a brother threaten
my religious jurisdiction, even my spiritual
throne? Does a sister question my authority?
Do religious arguers question my preaching,
my teaching, my theology? Do people who
do not play by my rules raise my sense of
Do I get angry when God blesses others,
especially those I think do not deserve
it? Does God bless the boorish, the geeks,
or the outcasts with the spiritual gifts
that I desperately covet? Do people that
have just come into the things of the Lord
have more understanding and apparent
favor with God than me? Have I been the
good older brother while my spiritual or
fleshly siblings have squandered the family
fortune then come easily home to the Father’s
waiting and loving arms?
Have I gone past writing to meddling yet?
Are you annoyed with me? Yikes, and I
thought this was going to be the most
boring of the series on stumbling. Have you
stumbled over Jesus, or the least of His
I need to go pray.
the offence of the gospel
the Cornerstone that the builders rejected
the gospel of Matthew
How Jesus offends us
Disappointment with God