About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Many Disciples Desert Jesus (ch. 6:60-71)

 

In verse 60 John reports that after hearing these words many of Jesusí so-called followers said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" 

 

Throughout the book of John we have seen the disconnect between Jesus and those to whom He spoke.  We saw it with Nicodemus, the woman at the well, and here we see it again.  The crowd of people could not understand or grasp what Jesus was saying.  It sounded more like cannibalism than the typical rabbinical teaching they were used to.  This is just the way it is with humanity.  On its own, humanity cannot understand the things of God.  God is spirit and we are human and without the Holy Spirit the words of Jesus sound very strange to us.     

 

We need to note that the people who had a difficult time with what Jesus was saying were called disciples by John here in verses 60 and 61.  The word "disciple" simply means "one who is learning."   So, the crowd in one real sense of the word was following Jesus as learners, as least to some degree.  That being said, just because John calls them disciples doesn't mean they were dedicated disciples to Jesus.  There are obviously levels of discipleship.  

 

What was it about Jesusí teaching that made it hard for these people to accept?  I think the biggest thing was that Jesus was claiming to be Godís Son, and not just a teacher or a prophet as these disciples thought.  Then the idea of eating Jesus' flesh and drinking His blood probably put them over the cliff.

 

In verse 61 Jesus knew that some of His followers were grumbling over His words.  So He asks them, "Does this offend you?  What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where He was before?"  The Greek word translated as offend here means to stumble.  These people were stumbling over what Jesus was saying.  It's not that they didn't want to move on with Jesus.  They just stumbled in the process of moving on.    

 

Jesus then asked how they would react if He returned to Heaven where He came from.  Again, Jesus is saying that He not only existed prior to his conception here on earth.  He was saying that God was His Father.  Over and over again John has been making this point, even more than the other gospel accounts.  As I said earlier, when John wrote this account close to the end of the first century, the doctrine of the Deity of Christ was beginning to be challenged.  John had to respond to this false teaching.  

 

In verse 63 Jesus says that "the Spirit (Holy Spirit) gives life; the flesh counts for nothing."  Paul, in Romans 1 and 2 gets his teaching on the depravity of man from Jesus.  Jesus believes that man is totally depraved.  He says that the flesh counts for nothing.  This is an important doctrine of the Bible.  Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that man is so wicked that he does not know how wicked he is.  This idea is so foreign to the worldly person who puts so much stock and confidence in fleshly activity.  I believe western world Christians today puts way too much confidence in their sinful nature.  It is the Holy Spirit that gives life in all of its varying aspects.  He gives life to our mortal bodies as Paul says in Romans 8.  He gives life to our spirits.  He gives life to the words that Jesus is speaking, as He says in the next verse.  "The words I have spoken to you, they are Spirit and they are life."  The words of Jesus are more than mere words of men.  They are words that are carried to the hearts of men and women by the Holy Spirit.  These Holy Spirit directed words gives life to those who accept them.  The same can be true of us if we allow the Holy Spirit to use our words.

 

In verse 64 John says that Jesus knew from the beginning who did not really believe in Him.  So you might say concerning some of these so-called disciples that they werenít real disciples in the first place.  They were only on the band wagon.  Jesus could tell beyond any doubt who were real followers of Him and who weren't.  Remember, Jesus is speaking to a crowd of people here.  Within this large crowd Jesus knew exactly who was for Him and who was against Him.  He knew who the true disciples were and who weren't.  

 

John goes on to say that Jesus in fact knew who would betray Him. This means that when Jesus chose Judas to be one of His Apostles, He knew that Judas would hand Him over to the Jewish leadership for execution.  Jesus knew from day one His fate.  He chose each one of the Twelve for a specific reason, and once knowing the nature of those twelve men, that is quite something to think about.  These 12 men were so varying in their personalities that it would have made it very hard for them to get along.    

 

In verse 66 Jesus reminded those listening to Him what He had told them earlier.  He says, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father enables him."  I believe the implication of these words in their context is that those who claimed to be disciples in fact werenít; were not enabled by the Father to come to Jesus. 

 

What Jesus says here applies to us today.  No one can come to Jesus unless the Father, and I'd say, through the Holy Spirit, enables to come to Jesus.  This makes prayer very important. It's more than our words; more than our desire to come to Jesus, that gets us to Jesus.  It's God Himself that must lead us to Jesus.  The Apostle Paul says something similar in Romans 12:3 where he says that God gives us faith by measure.  The point here is two fold.  It's God who gives us faith, meaning, it's God who enables us to trust our lives with Jesus.  Then, it is God that gives faith by measure.  That means not all have the same ability to trust Jesus.  I suggest that the   measure of faith given to any person depends on what Jesus wants him to do.  

 

Verse 66 is somewhat sad.  John says that from this time many of Jesus disciples turned their backs on Him and did not follow Him any longer.  The same happens today, over and over again.  Not all in the church are true followers, and those who arenít sooner or later will turn away.  Not all who begin following Jesus stay following Jesus.

 

In verse 67 Jesus turns to the Twelve and asks them if they will forsake Him as well.  This must have been a penetrating question.  

 

In verse 68 Peter was the first to reply,
witch I believe was probably the case most of the time.  He said, "Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."  Peter understood that Jesus was the Messiah.  He understood that Jesus was the way in which he could inherit eternal life.  That being said, I'm also sure that Peter did not understand the full implication of what he just said.   

 

In verses 70 and 71we note that Jesus was very clear about Judas.  He told the Twelve apostles that He had chosen all of them, but one of them was a devil.  Jesus knew right from the start that Judas was not a true disciple.  He was in fact an agent of the devil.  I can't begin to imagine how the other eleven men would have reacted to this statement. I think it would be obvious that at least within themselves they wondered who the betrayer would be. 

 

We know from later on in the book of John that the devil would actually enter Judas at the Last Supper, but here we see that Jesus calls him a devil.  He, even in these early days was an instrument of satan, a thorn in Jesus side throughout His earthly ministry.

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