Introduction: The poet was right—none of us are an island to ourselves. We do not live in isolation from people. We affect others by the things that we do, and others affect us. It becomes a serious matter when we have a negative affect on others.
These words were address to the disciples of Jesus. The context may not be clear at first, especially with what has gone before. However, it is probable that Jesus was warning His disciples about following the example of the religious leaders of the day. They were constantly discouraging those who were considering following Jesus. They were putting obstacles in the way to the “little ones.” Who are the little ones about whom Jesus is concerned? In the Gospel of Matthew they are identified as children, but in this context it may be a term of endearment for those who are seeking to follow Jesus. When you do something that hinders or harms those who are following Him, it is a serious matter. What about the offences? “It is impossible that no offenses will come,” Jesus declares. An offense is anything over which a person might trip or fall. Berkley Version translates the word “obstacle.” In this context the word refers to a temptation to sin. And the sin could be the sin of refusing to follow Jesus. It is a most serious matter when a person makes it difficult for another person to put their faith in Christ, and to follow Him as Lord. There are two important truths about “obstacles to the little ones” set forth in these brief verses. They are sobering truths that should guide our behavior day by day. Those of us who are Christians need to identify with both sides of this statement. We need to think of the words from the perspective of the “little ones,” and from the side of the one placing the obstacle in their way. I. THE LITTLE ONES CANNOT AVOID OBSTACLES. Becoming a follower of Jesus does not make you immune to sin. You are still vulnerable. Christ leaves His followers in the world where they will be tempted and tried. Jesus realized this and declared, “It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him through whom they come.” 1. The situation of the little ones makes obstacles certain. While His “little ones” are no longer of the world, they are still in the world. It is the nature of the world in which they continue to live that makes them vulnerable. This world will always be to them a source of temptation. And the problem is aggravated by the fact that they are always a minority in the world. Jesus described the way of the world as being a “broad way that leads to destruction.” None of us enjoy being different! We have a deep desire to “fit in” and to be accepted in the world. As long as you are in the world, you will be subject to temptation. Just when you think you are beyond temptation, you will fall. 2. The humanity of the little ones makes obstacles certain.
II. WE MUST AVOID BEING AN OBSTACLE TO ANYONE. 1. Most temptations come through people. 2. There is a woe on those who present temptations. 3. To whom do these words apply? A. The peddler of illegal drugs. B. The producers and sellers of porn. C. Delinquent Parents. D. The Hip-Hop Music industry. E. The false religionist. F. The dysfunctional church.