Last night I was reading John 6:60-69 from the Wordstrong schedule my church is reading for Lent. I love this passage of John, in fact the whole of John 6 is a wonderful glimpse into Jesus’ ministry and the reactions of the people to what He did and said. Chapter 6 is where Jesus feeds the 5,000, walks on water, and refers to Himself as the bread of life saying that anyone who seeks eternal life must eat His flesh and drink His blood. It is also, in the last section, where some of His disciples walk away because His teaching is too hard. John 6:60.
As I read this last section, a couple of things came to mind.
First, let’s look at verse 60: “Many of his disciples said, ‘This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?'” I wonder how many people today walk away from Jesus because His teaching is too hard to understand? Without the help of the Holy Spirit and more mature Christians, some of what Jesus says is very hard to understand. But the core of His message is not. He came to save sinners by His sacrifice of Love, and He calls His followers to trust in Him alone for their salvation.
Second, I noticed that Jesus knew exactly what was going on and who believed. Jesus said “‘But some of you do not believe me.’ (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.)” John 6:64. But even though He knew some would not believe, He continued to preach, teach, and heal. He did not let the discouragement that some would walk away stop Him from reaching out to those who would believe. We must do the same and not become discouraged because there are so many in our world today who do not believe.
Third, Jesus knew even at this point, quite some time before the last supper, that Judas Iscariot would betray Him. “Then Jesus said, ‘I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.’ He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray him.” John 6:70-71. But even though He knew, He did not call Judas out and expel him from the group. He knew that Judas’ betrayal was part of the plan and did not try to avoid it. Though we may not know who will betray us as Jesus did, we do know that there will be those in our lives who will treat us badly or speak ill of us because of our faith. Jesus even warned that His followers would be persecuted and hated because of Him. Just as Jesus allowed things to play out and did not try to avoid Judas’ betrayal, we must continue in our faith and in speaking the truth of Jesus even though it may mean persecution and trouble.
Finally, some people evaluated the evidence before them and believed Jesus was who He said He was. I love Peter’s answer to Jesus’ query whether the 12 disciples would also leave. “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:68-69. There are many in the church today who believe and know that Jesus is our only hope of salvation.
Have you encountered a teaching of Jesus that you find hard to understand? Don’t walk away. Seek the help of the Holy Spirit and mature Christians to help you understand.
Do you know some who don’t believe? Don’t be discouraged. Keep sharing His love so that the Father may use your words in the hearts of those who will believe.
Do you fear betrayal and persecution? Have courage. Remember that Jesus is always by your side and His plan for your eternal life will come to fruition in spite of any persecution or trouble you encounter in His name.
Do you believe and know that Jesus is the Holy One of God? You are not alone. Hang onto your knowledge of the Savior and remain in fellowship with others who believe likewise. Just as the disciples remained together (with the exception of Judas) through the trauma of the crucifixion, the joy of the resurrection, and the challenge of the new church, believers today must remain together and in fellowship with each other. To whom else can we go? It is Jesus who has the gift of eternal life.