Devotional: Applying the Bible to my today.
Read: John 6:60-69
By Dane Tyner
Jesus was not trying to merely attract a large following, gain a mass of fans or create the appearance of success. Our text proves this. He was clearly unafraid to speak truths that were hard and/or controversial, things that required faith on the part of the hearer.
Our text records a major event in Jesus’ ministry. When He was performing miracles of various kinds and when He preached powerful messages like the Sermon on the Mount, many people were drawn to Him. He chose the Twelve to follow Him for a particular purpose, but many others were drawn to hear Him speak and hopefully see a miracle or two. Some who were able followed Him from place to place. In this account, we hear of many people in Jesus’ audience who, when they heard something that “did not compute”, headed home – probably shaking their heads and grumbling one to another.
What did Jesus say that turned them off? He made one of His controversial identity statements. He said He was “the Bread of Life that came down from heaven.” No small controversy grew out of this proclamation. People were divided over the statement. Most were offended by it. How offended? They were offended enough to quit following Jesus altogether.
His response to this captures me. He did not ask the people to stay or suggest they may have misunderstood Him and offer to explain. To the contrary, He simply let them go. Obviously, they had understood Him perfectly; they just could not believe Him. They did what Scripture tells us not to do; they chose to “lean on their own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). What He did with the Twelve remaining is stunning. He turned to them and asked, “Do you also want to go away?” Is that not amazing? He was freeing them to leave if they chose. I would not have wanted to risk mentioning that option for fear that two or three, five or six or all of them might do it. But in Jesus’ question, they were also free to follow – if they chose. Let us not miss this; it was a moment of choosing. These, in fact, are the type of followers Jesus wanted and wants – ones that will follow, even in the face of pain, confusion and threat. Jesus was going a very hard way and He needed followers whose belief was strong enough to endure the hard ways, too.
Thankfully, not one of the Twelve left; but, as usual, Peter spoke up for the group. If you’ve ever questioned the radical claims of Christ, if you’ve ever contemplated throwing in your faith towel, Peter’s response is worthy of our contemplation. He said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
This is the crux of our faith in Jesus. Through Him, and Him alone, we have heard a message like none other. He has promised life beyond the grave. To the young preacher, Timothy, the Apostle Paul called this the promise of “the life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:19). He has provided the solution for our sin problems. He has reconciled us to God and brought peace between us and our Maker. Before one would walk away from all of that, we should consider whether we really believe that there is any other viable option! I have found none. No one else has any substantive, living words for me.
An old gospel song says, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.” Another verse makes an even bolder proclamation that, “Though none go with me, still I will follow . . .” Now, think for a moment; isn’t that exactly what Jesus did? He didn’t follow Jesus; He was Jesus. But He did faithfully follow the path the Father had laid out for Him, regardless of how many chose to come along behind.
We believers are routinely in the minority. Have you gotten used to it? In Jesus, my heart has found what it was looking for. And this is all the argument I need for being a Christian, for remaining a Christian. I think it is all the argument any of us need.
Dear Lord Jesus, You are the One with the words we need! Keep speaking them. Help the ears of our hearts to hear and heed Your words to us. You are the One who has done what needed to be done for us – what we were unable to do. Thank You! Thank You for going the very hard way, believing that some of us would believe and benefit! Amen.
Dane Tyner is founder and director of Home Improvement Ministry in Tulsa. H.I.M. is a trans-denominational ministry, providing a variety of Christian family services including personal and family counseling, seminars, and written materials designed to help people overcome obstacles to the life God wants us to claim in Christ. Learn more at www.forhim.org.