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Going Away from Jesus

Going Away from Jesus

   In John 6, we see Jesus literally—in terms of popularity-- go from the balcony to the floor, from the top to the bottom: in verse 2 “a great multitude followed Him” and in verse 66 “many went back and walked with Him no more.” In this chapter, look at the key happenings:

Feeding of the 5,000.  Vv. 1-13. What a great miracle! To take the small lunch of a boy (5 pieces of bread and 2 small fish) and feed probably a total of 15 to 20 thousand people!! Everyone got “as much as they wanted!” And then, to have 12 baskets left over!

Walking on Water – Calming the Storm. Vv.16-21. The disciples are told by Jesus to go to the other side. Then they got caught in this supernatural storm. Jesus comes to the rescue—walking on the water. And, miraculously, the boat landed where they were going. Jesus shows power over gravity, storm, space.

    These works put Him at the pinnacle of His popularity. Note that in verse 14, they acclaimed Him as the “Prophet” predicted by Moses (Deut. 18:15). Note that in verse 15, they were ready to make Jesus King, by force if necessary!! Why wouldn’t the people want to make Jesus King? He could walk on water (do the impossible), control nature, produce food, heal the wounded, raise the dead, and was all-wise. Note how Jesus handled their clamor to make Him king—He withdrew, fled this temptation.

    Also, note how Jesus understood their motives—v. 26. They did not understand that the miracles were “signs” pointing to Him as the Messiah. They thought only of the physical things—the fact that He fed them. They were interested in a physical, political, military king who could stand up to Rome, deliver them from slavery, and restore the glory of David and Solomon to the Jews.

    Go back with me to the shocking statement of John 6:66—the fact that they went back and walked with Jesus no more. This speech indicates a total abandonment that was decisive and final. What was it that made the people not want to see Jesus again? The people complained that Jesus’ teachings were HARD sayings! “Hard” in the Greek is scleros from which we get “sclerosis” (like arteriosclerosis: hardening of the arteries). “Hard” means a hardening which hinders proper functioning.

    At this point, let’s be clear about the people calling Jesus’ teachings “hard.” His teachings are not hard to understand , but hard to accept! It is not the intellectual difficulty which keeps people away from Christ, but the height and depth of commitment—the “spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” A person’s refusal of Christ does not happen because his intellect is baffled and puzzled, but because Christ challenges his life! Jesus knew the issue was not the harshness of His teachings but the hardness of their hearts—they “did not believe” – v. 64.  They said they were “offended”—what offended them?

Offended By His Person.  Remember Jesus miraculously supplied bread. In vv. 48, 50, 51 – He claims to be the “Bread of life.” He claims to have “come down from Heaven.” This refers to His incarnation. Note the supernatural things Christ said He could/would do in vv. 38-40. The people were offended by this: vv.41-42. Hey! You had better know WHO JESUS IS! He had a miraculous birth, lived a perfect life, performed miracles, died an unbelievable death on the cross, had a miraculous resurrection from the grave, fulfilled prophecies. But, do you know what offends people the most—the “hardest” fact of all is the EXCLUSIVITY OF CHRIST!!  He is the ONLY way to Heaven—John 14:6; Acts 4:12. He cannot be compared to Buddha, Confucious, or Mohammed! They were offended by His Person.

Offended By God’s Process. Vv. 27-29, 35. Again, the words of Jesus are not hard to understand, but are hard on man’s pride. Remember the way Cain was offended that God did not accept his “fruit” sacrifice (without the shedding of blood). Today, people simply cannot accept the fact that they cannot “work” to be saved, but must depend on God’s grace through faith. The song: “Not the labors of my hands – can fulfill thy law’s demands; these for sin could not atone—Thou must save and Thou alone; In my hand no price I bring—simply to thy cross I cling.” The work that God requires of us is to “believe in His Son”—without faith it is impossible to please God. They were offended at God’s process.

    Now, go back to verse 66. I am offended that they were offended! I am disappointed that they were disappointed! Jesus hit the nail on the head when He told them—the only reason you are following Me is because you ate and were full. In my ministry of almost fifty years, I have seen probably as many QUIT Jesus as I have follow Him. I’ve seen people with broken situations, relationships on the rocks, wrecked homes, and lost jobs—they want a QUICK FIX! They want something painless with no cost or inconvenience. This is the day of INSTANT GRATIFICATION: people want temporary relief not permanent results. People don’t WANT THE PROCESS, THEY WANT THE PRODUCT!

     Let me tell you a nauseating story: a manager at a large company had a sister who died. Because she died on a Thursday, the time of death plus the funeral visitations times made it logical to have the funeral on a Monday. When the manager went to the “big boss” and explained this and asked for Monday off—the boss said the manager was going to have to miss one of the biggest days of the year. He asked him to change the funeral from Monday to a Friday—“that would be better for us!” We all should react to the audacity of the boss—life and death are not always inconvenient!

    Do you view the message of Jesus as inconvenient? Jesus’ words should “offend” the sloppy way we live our lives and do church! Jesus’ words should offend the haphazard way we witness for Him! People today want a style of Christianity that is easy, relaxed, and guilt-free. The issue is whether we are willing to take Jesus as He is—or do we try to REPACKAGE Him according to our preferences?!! The truth is that we have set our own self-centered standards, and if they contend with Jesus’ demands—we call His teachings “hard” and are ready to walk away and be with Him no more. Ughhh! We want a Jesus Who is not demanding or doesn’t ask for sacrifice or inconvenience---anything more is too difficult and we are “out of here!”  If that is the way you think, your idea of Jesus and Christianity does not fit the Bible! And, you probably will not enjoy Heaven!

    So----they turned back. The cost of discipleshlp was not in them. What they wanted, Jesus would not give. What He offered, they would not receive.

    The question is: will you go away?  I am in Peter’s camp: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You and You alone have the words of eternal life” (v. 68)

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