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Following Jesus

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?

It’s been a cold, gray day but I wrapped myself up in a big blanket, snuggled into the corner of the couch and read a fascinating chapter of scripture – John 6.  I’ve been thinking about it all day.

Jesus performs two miracles – He feeds the five thousand and He walks on the water. The crowd is fascinated. They follow Him and ask, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” The people might have asked this question for the wrong reason but I still asked myself, “how often is this a burning question in my life?”

Jesus answers. “The work of God is this; to believe in the one he has sent. “

Simple and profound.

MY PRIMARY WORK IS TO BE RECEPTIVE TO GOD – DAY IN, DAY OUT. 

Jesus reveals Himself as the source of life – the Bread of Life – the one who not only gives life but sustains it. The crowd begins to grumble and argue sharply among themselves but Jesus continues and they listen. When Jesus finishes speaking, many of his disciples respond with, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

First the Jews and then most of Jesus’ disciples are offended rather than enlightened. By the end of the chapter, only the twelve are left.  Jesus asks them, “You do not want to leave too, do you? Simon Peter responds on behalf of the Twelve –  “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”  Only the twelve accept Jesus’ claim that His words are spirit and life (v. 63).

So, why did the twelve stay and “everybody else turned back and no longer followed Him?  (vs. 66) What kept the twelve believing?

I’m guessing that they must have experienced enough Jesus in their transformed lives to keep their focus on Him – not on what they were doing for Him, not on what they were getting from Him but simply recognizing the gift of eternal life and hope in Him.

Bill Sunday once said, “Many Christians have just enough religion to be miserable.” I think this is a profound observation.  Many people learn enough about following Jesus to turn them off  – the Christian life is not easy – and never experience the joy of surrendering, the purpose of suffering and the hope in living passionately for Him.

I know deep in my heart that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  This world doesn’t offer me what my soul craves for – and I don’t believe that I have missed a thing by, “prying the world’s suction cups off my heart”  (Joni Eareckson Tada)  and choosing Jesus.  I have failed Him many times but I “know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”  2 Timothy 1.12 ESV

 

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