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What Scandalizes You?
It's getting hard to shock people these days. We've become hardened, cynical, numb. What does scandalize us tells us much about our worldview, our assumptions about reality. So, what scandalizes you? Are you ever shocked by your own sin? Are you ever surprised by how sinful your own thoughts, words or actions can be? Is that perhaps because you've started to believe that you are better than you really are?
In today's reading in Luke, we see the Pharisees scandalized twice by Jesus:
1. When Jesus pronounces the paralytic to be forgiven, the Pharisees question, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” The Pharisees are sure that this paralytic had to be a big sinner, or else God would not have judged him with paralysis. This is why Jesus demonstrates His power to forgive by healing. The Pharisees just cannot not believe in such forgiveness, in such powerful mercy.
2. When Jesus goes to the home of Levi and ate and drank with the tax collector and his sinful friends, they ask, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” The Pharisees know here that the Messiah would surely be more interested in hanging around with people like them, the respectable religious, than around the notoriously sinful.
The mercy and grace of Jesus scandalizes Pharisees. They couldn't believe that He would dare to pronounce someone forgiven. Then, they couldn't believe that the Messiah would ever associate with "those kind of people." As soon as we begin to believe that some people are beyond saving or that we've somehow grown beyond sinning, we are showing our hearts to be more like the Pharisees than like Jesus.
Jesus answers the scandalized Pharisees by basically telling them that they are not His priority because they don't see their need for Him. He comes as the Great Physician to heal, but they don't think they are sick. He comes as the Savior who saves sinners, but they think they're righteous. May we never lose sight of our need for Jesus, that we might always see our need for His healing and His saving grace.
Prayer Based on Psalm 109:
From Pray All the Psalms (Rory McClure, Parkside Evangelical Church, Littlehampton, England)
Lord Jesus, when Herod and Pontius Pilate
met together with the Gentiles
and the people of Israel in Jerusalem
to conspire against you,
your Father was there for you to cry out to:
“O God, whom I praise,
do not remain silent,
for wicked and deceitful men
have opened their mouths against me;
they have spoken against me with lying
With words of hatred they surround me;
they attack me without cause.
In return for my friendship they accuse me,
but I am a man of prayer.
They repay me evil for good,
and hatred for my friendship.”
Judas, who betrayed you, knew the place where
you went to pray,
because you had often met there with your
So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment
and some officials from the chief priests and
They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
This betrayer had arranged a signal with them:
“The one I kiss is the man; arrest him
and lead him away under guard.”
Going at once to you, Judas said, “Rabbi!”
and kissed you.
As the Son of Man, you had to go
just as it is written about you.
But woe to that man who betrayed the Son of Man!
It would be better for him if he had not been
An evil man was appointed to oppose Judas;
the Accuser stood at his right hand.
For Satan had entered Judas
and he went to the chief priests and the officers
of the temple,
and discussed with them how he might betray
When he is tried, he will be found guilty,
and his prayers will condemn him.
His days were few;
for when Judas, who had betrayed you,
saw that you had been condemned, he was
seized with remorse
and returned the thirty silver coins
to the chief priests and the elders.
“I have sinned,” he said,
“for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied.
“That’s your responsibility.”
So Judas threw the money into the temple and left.
Then he went away and hanged himself,
so another took his place of leadership.
You showed the apostles whom you had chosen
who was to take over his apostolic ministry,
which Judas left to go where he belongs.
When they cast lots,
the lot fell to Matthias,
so he was added to the eleven apostles.
Judas’ children were left fatherless
and his wife a widow.
His children became wandering beggars;
they were driven from their ruined homes.
A creditor seized all he had;
strangers plundered the fruits of his labour.
No one extend kindness to him
or took pity on his fatherless children.
His descendants were cut off,
their names were blotted out from the next
The iniquity of his fathers is remembered
before you, O Lord;
the sin of his mother will never be blotted out.
Their sins will always remain before the Lord.
He will cut off the memory of them from
And so the Scripture as fulfilled
which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago
through the mouth of David
concerning Judas who served as a guide
for those who arrested Jesus.
Judas never thought of doing a kindness,
but hounded to death the poor
and the needy and the brokenhearted.
When Mary took about a pint of pure nard,
an expensive perfume;
she poured it on your feet
and wiped your feet with her hair.
And the house was filled
with the fragrance of the perfume.
But Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray you,
“Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money
given to the poor?
It was worth a year’s wages.’”
He did not say this because he cared about the
but because he was a thief.
As keeper of the money bag,
he used to help himself to what was put into it.
He loved to pronounce a curse—
but it came back on him;
he found no pleasure in blessing—
it was far from him.
He wore cursing as his garment;
it entered into his body like water,
into his bones like oil.
It was like a cloak wrapped about him,
like a belt tied forever around him.
This was the Lord’s payment to your accusers,
to those who spoke evil of you.
Yet even as you hung on the cross
suffering the consequence of Judas’ betrayal,
you offered up prayers and petitions
with loud cries and tears
to the one who could save you from death,
and you were heard because of your reverent
“But you, O Sovereign LORD,
deal well with me for your name’s sake;
out of the goodness of your love,
deliver me from the grave.
For I am poor and needy,
and my heart is wounded within me.
I fade away like an evening shadow;
I am shaken off like a locust.
My knees give way from fasting;
my body is thin and gaunt.
I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
when they see me, they shake their heads.
Help me, O LORD my God;
save me in accordance with your love.
Let them know that it is your hand,
that you, O LORD, have done it.
They may curse, but you will bless;
when they attack they will be put to shame,
but your servant will rejoice.
My accusers will be clothed with disgrace
and wrapped in shame as in a cloak.
With my mouth I will greatly extol the LORD;
in the great throng of heaven I will praise him.
For he stands at the right hand of the needy one,
to save his life from those who condemn
O Jesus, to this you have called me,
because you suffered for me,
leaving me an example,
that I should follow in your steps.
You committed no sin,
nor was deceit found in your mouth.
When they hurled their insults at you
you did not retaliate,
when you suffered,
you made no threats to them.
Instead, you entrusted yourself to your Father who
Thank you Jesus, for you, yourself bore my sins
in your body on the tree,
so that I might die to sins
and live for righteousness;
by your wounds I have been healed.