John 6:66 “As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.”
This is a sad passage. It’s found in a lengthy section in which Jesus defines Himself as the living bread and tells the multitudes that they must consume Him. Strange thoughts certainly for the audience. They didn’t understand. Jesus had fed this crowd earlier and now He turns the attention to commitment to Him. That was more than many wanted. A free meal is nice. Healing the sick is awesome. But commitment, devotion, total loyalty was more than they were willing to give. They left Jesus. Not just a few, but many.
That happened then and it happens now. Some leave because they don’t think the church is friendly enough. Not enough people invited me to their home for a dinner. Not enough people paid attention to me. Feelings hurt, so some leave. Somehow in their thinking they forgot it’s supposed to be about Jesus—not them.
Others leave when the they have gotten all that they needed. Maybe there was a crisis, a bump in the marriage, a problem with the kids. They find a church, learn about Jesus, get some help, things turn for the better and then they leave. Found what they needed for the moment and then they are back to their old ways.
Where does a person go when they walk away from Jesus? There are not alternatives that will still get you to Heaven. There are no other options. The multitudes were offended by what Jesus said. They still are today. Some think that Jesus, or the Bible, shouldn’t say anything about marriage, and especially not divorce. That’s personal and it’s especially private and no one’s business but mine. Wrong. It’s God’s business. Some think that Jesus shouldn’t be pushy or demanding, yet He is the Lord and the N.T. is a law. Some think that we ought to just be nice, accept everyone, don’t judge and just love everyone as they are. There’s more to it than that. The Jesus that some want is not the Jesus of the N.T. So when things don’t work out off they go looking for another Jesus.
They may find a version of what they want. It won’t be the real Jesus, but it will relieve their guilt, allow them to be religious and mostly, allow them to do what they want. This is the Jesus they want. Some churches promote that brand of Jesus. Many authors write about that kind of Jesus. It’s not the real Jesus. They’re missing out. They’re not getting the whole picture.
Our passage doesn’t show Jesus chasing after these people who left and begging them to come back. It doesn’t show Jesus offering to soften the message, remove the demands and allow them to go to Heaven without having to do much. We don’t find Jesus feeling guilty or wrong about this. The people left because they did not believe. This was a faith issue. Today, when some leave, fingers are pointed at the church. Too cold. Didn’t do enough for the young people. Not enough this. Too little of that. No one called. Some one said something weird. Someone sat in my seat. STOP! That’s not the cause. It’s faith. All of these things mean nothing and have nothing to do with one’s relationship with Jesus. Are you to tell me that someone is willing to lose Heaven, throw in the towel, quit walking with Jesus and go back to the world simply because someone was sitting in their seat in a church building? Do you really believe that? It’s about Jesus. Someone that really believes in Jesus will not be stopped by what others say or do. Someone that really believes in Jesus will be willing to lose their life for Jesus. All these excuses are from people who do not believe in Jesus. It’s shameful to see Christians trying to coddle and beg people to come to church services who once made a commitment to Jesus. I shouldn’t have to have anyone beg me to worship my Savior. Where is my faith?
These multitudes left Jesus because they were never really with Him. They followed but they were not connected. They watched but they did not accept. They heard but they didn’t believe. And when they found an opportunity they left. They never really wanted to go with Him. Without faith, a person won’t last long. Without faith, the lamest excuse is all that is needed to exit. It happened then and it happens today.
What’s the solution? Build faith. Teach Christ. More Bible. It’s not more fun that is needed. It’s not more outings, more get togethers, more food, more social times, it’s more faith. Faith, we are told, comes from hearing and hearing by the word of God. Hotdogs, canoeing, and softball create fun, they don’t build faith. Faith comes from the Bible. The glue that connects us to Jesus is not the relationships in the church, it’s not the incredible feeling I have with them, it’s not the attention they give me, it’s my faith in Jesus Christ. Too many places have lost this. They have people glued together through fun stuff, but not connected to Jesus. We need Jesus. It’s not the church that will save us, it’s Jesus. Our hope is not in the church, it’s Jesus. The church is a work in progress. The church has problems because the church is people and all of us have issues, baggage, sins and things we are working on. It’s Jesus who is perfect.
We often get bummed out about the church and take it out on Jesus by leaving Him. Bad choice. We only hurt ourselves when we do this. Without Jesus, where do we go? We are on our own and that’s a sad and long journey.
Build faith and stay with Jesus.