John 6.60-71 — Follow or fade away

The miracle is past. Jesus has proclaimed himself as the Messiah, as the new Moses, and as the Life of God Himself. He has answered their questions, and explained his position. The people’s response: “What you’re saying is really hard to accept. You’re saying the Messiah will suffer and die, but that’s not the way we see it.”

Jesus presses the point: “Does this offend you? What if I suffer, as I’m saying, and then rise from the dead? I can’t give you the truth any more clear than that. Then will you believe me? Ah, there will always be someone who doesn’t believe. It’s a spiritual thing, not just an intellectual understanding.”

The sermon produced a decisive effect. The people turned away in droves. By the thousands. Well, everyone has to make his or her choice to follow or reject. They packed up their stuff and went home. Notice Jesus didn’t chase after them. He didn’t soften his message, and he didn’t try to pressure them. He didn’t promise them bigger rewards if they would just stick with him. The point is: if you recognize the truth, you’re there. If you don’t, see ya.

Jesus didn’t skip a beat, but turned to his disciples. “Hey, you guys leaving too? This is the time to walk if you aren’t with me.”

Peter answers, “Where else in the world would we go? You are the one telling the truth. You are the one who is speaking these incredible words of life. You are God Himself. We’d have to be out of our minds to walk away.”

Ah, another testimony added to the others. Jesus has the words of life and is the Holy One of God. But obviously it’s not obvious to all, and obviously not every agrees. Jesus adds, “Yeah, not even all 12 of you believe.” Nothing is automatic. Spiritual life is different from earthly knowledge. It’s open to everyone, but it’s a choice, not an irresistible compulsion.

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