John 6 61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you?
“Are You Ashamed of Jesus?”. I recently spent some time contemplating this question. I have always believed in finding root causes rather than dealing with symptoms, and this question was forcing me to deal with a root cause issue. A few years back my son was struggling with chronic shin splints that were potentially going to derail his track career, but his introduction to a new physiotherapist changed everything. All previous health practitioners attempted to treat the shin splints, but this physio didn’t even look at his shins. Rather, over many months he uncovered other weaknesses in his body, prescribed strengthening exercises which in turn cured the issue and ensured that it never recurred. The root cause was dealt with.
My symptom was a lack of love for Jesus. Why was I not passionate about spending time with Him like before? I realized that while I accepted His teachings, there were some that I accepted but did not love. As I considered this I thought of today’s scripture from John 6. Most people think there were 12 disciples, but there were 72 (Luke 10:1). John 6 tells us the story of what happened to most of them. Not surprisingly Jesus attracted a large following – healing people, showing unconditional love to the oppressed tends to do that. We read that “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’” (Luke 10:17). Clearly, they were intoxicated by this power bestowed on them. Yet everything changes quite quickly when: “Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.’” (John 6:53). Suddenly the man they were so attracted to becomes a stench. “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’” From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. (John 6: 60,66).
Jesus was never in a popularity contest nor interested in the praise of men (John 2: 23-25). He was interested in fulfilling his mission, and focussed on pouring into those who were fully committed to Him. And I am fully convinced that if Jesus were to come to earth today he would cause more than half “the church” to walk away. Just like the people were attracted to the miracles and pleasant messages when Jesus walked the earth, much of today’s church longs to have their ears tickled (2 Timothy 4:3). I’d love to see Jesus invited to a large stadium filled a hundred thousand Christians today and have Him answer the questions of the day. They would ask him what defines a marriage and He would do exactly as he did when the Pharisees asked him about divorce, he’d refer to the beginning, “’Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female, (Matthew 19:4)’”. Half the stadium would now be empty. Those remaining would ask him about hell and whether his Father would really judge them. Jesus would say “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. (John 14:6b). He might then share an old parable making it clear that hell is a place for those who reject Him and His father (Luke 16:19-31). Another quarter of the stadium would empty. After a few more contentious comments, perhaps about family (Mark 3: 31-35), 80% of the stadium would now be empty. He’d look at them and ask: “You do not want to leave too, do you?” (John 6:67a).
So, what is your answer? I pray that it is the same as Simon Peter’s: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68b).