John 6:56-69 It has Never been Easy
When I was very young, a well-meaning middle-aged woman who was a friend of our family tried to help me get saved. She used the four spiritual laws, the Roman road, and several other canned presentations of the Gospel. She was driving me home when I told the lady that I didn’t want to go to hell, and I wanted to be saved. She immediately put on the breaks and pulled over to the side of the road. She told me becoming a Christian was easy. I am sorry but it is not.
Being a Christian is not about saying the right words, participating in the right rituals, or even “getting saved.” Being a Christian relies on one thing and one thing only thing, that is our relationship to God, our relationship to Jesus. Being saved is both an event and a process. It is when, through dramatic encounter or awakening love, an individual is aware of who, what, when, where, why, and how of the love of Jesus and seeks to be his disciple. To do this is hard. Even Jesus said so.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. (Matt. 16:24 CEB)
Don’t think that I’ve come to bring peace to the earth. I haven’t come to bring peace but a sword. I’ve come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. People’s enemies are members of their own households. “Those who love father or mother more than me aren’t worthy of me. Those who love son or daughter more than me aren’t worthy of me. Those who don’t pick up their crosses and follow me aren’t worthy of me. (Matt. 10:34-38 CEB)
They will arrest you, abuse you, and they will kill you. All nations will hate you on account of my name. (Matt. 24:9 CEB)
Do these verses sound like an easy path to you?
Passage today, some individuals who though Jesus was the way to a free meal or perhaps even a political leader against Rome that many were hoping for, were grumbling. They did not like what Jesus said.
We are told they were grumbling as Jesus was continuing his message about his being the Bread of life. He explained that the manna of Moses was only to sustain through the wilderness. Jesus is the bread from heaven that can be claimed from heaven and will give the one who eats us what is needed to live into eternal life rather than eternal death.
Their response to Jesus, “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?”” Jn. 6:60 NRS) It was hard because it when against their perception of the truth. There will always be people who refuse to believe in Jesus no matter what he says or does. They have hardened themselves against the Spirit’s calling which is the one sin that will not be forgiven.
Jesus tells us, “But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.””
(Jn. 6:64-65 NRS)
We live in a time in which the some who call themselves disciples no longer believe in the Bible. They say the Bible is wrong. It is too hard to accept what it teaches. There are even other so-called disciples who no longer accept the divinity of Jesus.
The reality is that the cultures of this world will always find something wrong with what Jesus says. This world is always looking for ways to counter the offer of life Jesus gives to all. This world is always seeking to interfere with the work of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit seeks to convince us of the truth.
Faith is not certainty. Faith requires risk. Faith means not having all our desires met, all our questions answered, and still, we trust of Lord. Faith means trusting enough to make a commitment to believe even when what we hear is hard.
The world does not want to hear Jesus say I am the way the truth and the life and no one comes to God unless they come through me. The world does not like to hear Jesus say, I am the living water. How dare Jesus be so arrogant as to say that he is the Son of God.
No, no arrogance but the truth. Jesus then tells the grumblers, “Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.”” (Jn. 6:62-64 NRS)
It always comes down to this, to our human free will, our God given gift of choice. Do you believe? Do you trust what God says? Are you willing to act in faith? It is okey to have doubts. It is okey to struggle. When we are in such a situation we can cry out, “Lord I believe. Help my unbelief!”
Sadly, the Scripture tells us, “Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.” (Jn. 6:66 NRS)
Jesus then turns to his disciples and asks them if they want to leave as well. Their choice is different than the others. Was it had for them? Yes, Jesus was challenging everything they thought they knew. Yes, Jesus was making some dangerous choices. Yes, his distractors were growing just as were his followers. Why, why would they follow Jesus? Why should we listen to these words? Why should we believe? Why, Peter gives us the answer.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” (Jn. 6:68-69 NRS)
Peter hits the nail on the head. Where can we go? Jesus is the Holy One of God. Jesus leads us on a hard path but it is the only path to God. It has never been easy to follow Jesus. But it can be done.
No, the road of following Jesus will not lead to prosperity. No, the road of following Jesus will not lead to popularity. “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matt. 10:21-22 NRS) Will you endure? The path may be difficult, but one thing is for certain, we will not walk alone. Jesus will be right there with us through it a