“Do you also want to leave?”
Scripture: Jesus sensed that his disciples were having a hard time with this and said, “Does this rattle you completely? What would happen if you saw the Son of Man ascending to where he came from? The Spirit can make life. Sheer muscle and willpower don’t make anything happen. Every word I’ve spoken to you is a Spirit-word, and so it is life-making. But some of you are resisting, refusing to have any part in this.” (Jesus knew from the start that some weren’t going to risk themselves with him. He knew also who would betray him.) He went on to say, “This is why I told you earlier that no one is capable of coming to me on his own. You get to me only as a gift from the Father.” After this, many of his disciples left. They no longer wanted to be associated with him. Then Jesus gave the Twelve their chance: “Do you also want to leave? Peter replied, “Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We’ve already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God. John 6:65-68
In college, I signed up to go on a missions trip for spring break. It was my first missions trip and I was thrilled because the focus was on evangelism to other college students on the beach. Before leaving, we met as a group regularly and prepared for the trip. Our leader told us a story about a guy who had gone on this trip previously.
I knew this guy, because although he had graduated college, he now worked at the local church I attended.
He was the kind of guy who knew the power of God so closely and intimately, it was almost intimidating and scary being around him.
He had such a crazy anointing, that after church people would line up to get prayer and this man would consistently steward healings and miracles, right there in our little church in Indiana.
Our trip leader shared about how he prayed for miracles, signs and wonders on the beach in Daytona. I knew firsthand how crazy it was to see these things. And our trip leader told us about how this guy was about to lead someone to Jesus through a miracle. On the beach as this person received prayer, they were so amazed with the miracle they said, sign me up! Essentially, they wanted the power of God like a cool party trick.
The guy who I knew from church presented the gospel to them, and shared how being a follower of Jesus includes both the power of God witnessed on the beach and suffering and persecution. He wanted to make sure this person on the beach was aware of what they were signing up for, and once this person realized all that came with the power of God, they walked away.
I was left wondering why our trip leader shared this with us, wasn't the point bringing people to Jesus? Shouldn't we just get anyone and everyone to know Him?
This reminds me of the question Jesus asked His disciples: "do you also want to leave?"
He asked this question as many struggled with His teaching as He revealed to them what would happen next. They didn't understand what He was saying and didn't have the context we have today for the teaching on communion.
This was a sobering moment between Jesus and His followers. He showed them that following Him was going to cost them something. In the message translation we read, "Jesus knew from the start that some weren’t going to risk themselves with him."
Every day, we are risking ourselves with Jesus as we follow Him.
And for many, at some point, it becomes too much. His message is too weird, it's too countercultural, it's too isolating, it's too different from what is socially acceptable.
I watched many close friends walk away from Jesus after leaving our Christian college. I always wondered why, and I think this passage reveals a part of the why for us so that we can be prepared. Jesus tells His disciples, and us, that things are going to get weird. It's going to be difficult to be associated with Jesus, it always has been.
Salvation is a free gift, from God, and it's ours for the taking. But it's also ours to walk away from. What stops people from walking away?
How can we continue to be persistent and faithful followers of Jesus even when shaking comes?
Peter's response reveals this to us. He calls Jesus master. He positions Him as Lord of His life, and acknowledges that Jesus' words are real and eternal. He is confident that Jesus is God.
In context, this is pretty profound. Peter had no idea what Jesus' teaching meant. None of the disciples did. But he didn't need to, he understood that He wanted Jesus as Lord over His life, no matter the cost. I hope we can respond the same way, even when we don't understand.
This response didn't come from knowledge of Jesus or understanding of His teachings, it came from spending time with Him. We can try to understand, and dig in and study and I think there's a time for that. Confidence in the One we follow when shaking comes and opposition occurs come from spending time with Him and knowing His holiness.
-When has following Jesus felt difficult to you recently and why?
-What keeps you from leaving? How would you respond to Jesus' question, "do you also want to leave?"
-What stands out to you about Peter's response to Jesus? What might God be trying to highlight to you through this?
Peter's response shows who He believed Jesus to be. Write out a reminder to yourself about who you believe Jesus to be.
Jesus thank you for coming to make a way for us to the Father. Thank you for communing with us and for revealing to us your glory, your holiness, and your power. Remind our heart's and mind's this week of your holiness and your position as Lord over our lives. Give us rest and confidence in your presence. Amen.
Get caught up on this series: Questions Jesus Asked