Many people around the world admire Jesus. They like Jesus because they feel He taught a moral and ethical philosophy that is in tune with their lifestyle and outlook on life. Jesus’ teachings of loving your neighbor as yourself, forgiving others and treating others, as you would like to be treated, resonates with people as wisdom and words to live by.
What people really dislike about Jesus is that He died on the Cross. Jesus dying on the Cross is offensive to a lot of people. Many men and women, who admire Jesus as a wise man want to believe that God grades our actions like a mathematics professor in college…on the curve. They feel that if they simply live a good life…not perfect, of course, but hey, who does…then when they stand before God, everybody will be just fine. We have done our best, and that should be good enough for a loving God to accept us into eternal glory.
Unfortunately, in the eyes of God we are all in the same sinful boat. All have sinned and fallen short. This fact is difficult for “good people” to believe. They cannot come to believe that in God’s eyes, a good guy like Paul Newman of Newman’s Own Charities is the same as Adolph Hitler. Dr. Timothy Keller once preached this marvelous analogy about this riddle. Suppose you asked three swimmers, one a novice, one a good swimmer and the other an Olympic champion, to swim from San Francisco to Hawaii. The first would drown within the first mile from shore. The second might make it five miles and the Olympic champion might make it 150 miles…but in the end, they all drown without a rescue boat.
Jesus’ death exposes our human hearts as so wicked and so deceitful and black with sin that only the death of His Son would be adequate to pay our penalty. That revelation and truth about our hearts is distasteful because it rips into the pride of men and stabs the ego that says we can contribute to our own salvation. To admit to ourselves that only the death of His Son would pay the price to get right with a holy and just God makes us furious and we reject Jesus. We reject the dying Jesus because we all want to earn salvation ourselves. Human pride hates to bend a knee to anything greater that itself. This is the Offence of the Cross.