Read Mark 12
Focus on verse 12
How is it in this age of progress and advanced intelligence that people get offended so easily? Now, I have not actually tried this, but it would seem one can’t hardly swing a frozen cat by the tail without hitting someone who is already offended about something…albeit if they were not offended before they were hit with a frozen cat they probably would be after…provided they were still conscious.
It mystifies me that we find it necessary to provide “safe zones” for students to go to our universities in case they hear something that makes then feel insecure? Are we really raising such a generation of pansies? Or is there something else going on?
A good friend of mine who I’ve known since my high school days had what I thought was a very effective response to people who took offense to his words or actions. He’d say, “if you don’t like it – don’t look!” In other words, no one is obligating you to continue listening if you find what you hear offensive. As far as I know, we still have that freedom in this nation…unless of course, you happen to pull up to a stop light beside one of those cars with the boom box speakers that make the your fillings fall out of your teeth, but how often does that really happen?
In today’s reading we discover that Jesus could actually be quite offensive with his words as well. There was a certain group of religious elites who were trying to figure out a way to discredit Jesus in the eyes of the people since they were jealous of His popularity. They saw Jesus as a threat to the control and power they had over the people, and were looking for a way to silence Jesus. In today’s chapter Jesus tells a very pointed parable that was clearly offensive to these religious leaders. (v. 1-11) When the parable is complete, the text says,
And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away. (v. 12)
If Jesus had been more like one of the cultural leaders of today, I suspect he would have been very honored that these religious elites had come out to hear him. He might even has gone out of his way to say things that he knew would please them, or even flatter them a little in order to gain their full support of his mission.
Interestingly Jesus does none of that. Rather he tells a story that clearly implicates these religious leaders as the crooked snobs that they knew they were. Not surprisingly they were not pleased at being called out so publicly, and so they shuffled off to their safe space to continue cooking up their plan of how to arrest him without losing credibility in the eyes of the crowds who were following him.
As I contemplate this further, it becomes apparent that what Jesus did is not unlike what most successful leaders have done since that time. The people who stand up to corruption within established leadership tend to be the hero’s of the masses. Unfortunately, what ultimately happened to Jesus too often also happens to most leaders who choose that path. Once the corrupt establishment realizes that they cannot silence them by intimidation, they typically up the anti and figure out a way to arrange a fatal accident for the person that opposes them.
Perhaps this is why Jesus warned us to be wise as serpents yet innocent as doves, and that even if we are able to pull that off, we should not be surprised if we are persecuted or killed as He was. This makes me a little more thankful for every day that I have enjoyed the freedom I have had thus far to follow Jesus openly and speak of Him freely. It also makes me wonder how much longer it will be before that changes.