From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. (John 6:66)
I have a word of comfort and caution for you today. It is a word designed to help us understand the teachings of Jesus without taking offense. In today’s verse, the apostle John records that there were many who did take offense at the words of our Lord and walked with Him no more. Jesus had been teaching deep Gospel truths about being the Bread of Life, using such words as these . . .
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world. (John 6:51)
On the surface, this teaching seemed offensive. “This is a hard teaching,” many grumbled. “Who can accept it?” (John 6:60). Jesus was teaching deep spiritual truths about the Gospel that his audience was unable to understand . . . so they took offense and walked away. Here is the point: Jesus intentionally made Himself an offense to His audience. Why? Because it separated the false disciples from the true disciples.
When you think about it, many of the teachings of Jesus are offensive. For example, consider this: “Deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Who reading this is excited about living a life of self-denial and cross-bearing?
It has been well said that the Christian life is not hard to live; it’s impossible! And that is entirely true . . . apart from the grace of God. Remember, the promise of Jesus is safe passage into glory, but not without storms and struggles along the way. The test for everyone who professes faith in Christ is this: Will there be a point where you find the teachings of Jesus offensive and refuse to follow Him? The world tells you to satisfy your every desire; Jesus says deny yourself. The world tells you to grab all you can, that he who dies with the most toys wins; Jesus says give all you have. The world says look out for number one; Jesus says look out for everyone else. The world says seek happiness; Jesus says seek holiness. The world tells you to follow your heart; Jesus says “Follow me.”
Listen: Having been bought at the price of His precious blood, you are now a slave to your Savior. And while His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30), make no mistake: He is Lord. He is a jealous God, and He will demand everything from you. Jesus did not raise you from death to life so that you could give Him half of your heart. He demands all of you . . . and rightfully so! He gave you all of Himself while hanging on a cross; it is only right for His disciples to give Him back the same.
How is it with you? Have you taken offense at any of the teachings of your Lord? Every moment you are faced with a choice: Take offense and satisfy yourself . . . or take no offense and live out your slavery to your Savior. The first choice leads to death; the second leads to life. Which will you choose?
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!