In our precious lecture we listened to words that pierced the heart of Jesus with very deep pain. Let us read it again:
John 6:60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”
Because they were too vain and self-righteous to receive reproof, too world-loving to accept a life of humility, many turned away from Jesus. Many are still doing the same thing. Souls are tested today as were those disciples in the synagogue at Capernaum.
When truth is brought home to the heart, they see that their lives are not in accordance with the will of God. They see the need of an entire change in themselves; but they are not willing to take up the self-denying work.
Therefore they are angry when their sins are discovered. They go away offended, even as the disciples left Jesus, murmuring, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?”
Praise and flattery would be pleasing to their ears; but the truth is unwelcome; they cannot hear it.
When the crowds follow, and the multitudes are fed, and the shouts of triumph are heard, their voices are loud in praise. But when the searching of God’s Spirit reveals their sin, and bids them leave it, they turn their backs upon the truth, and walk no more with Jesus.
As those disaffected disciples turned away from Christ, a different spirit took control of them. They could see nothing attractive in Him whom they had once found so interesting.
They sought out His enemies, for they were in harmony with their spirit and work. They misinterpreted His words, falsified His statements, and impugned His motives.
They sustained their course by gathering up every item that could be turned against Him; and such indignation was stirred up by these false reports that His life was in danger.
The news spread swiftly that by His own confession Jesus of Nazareth was not the Messiah. And thus, in Galilee the current of popular feeling was turned against Him, as, the year before, it had been in Judea. Alas for Israel!
They rejected their Saviour because they longed for a conqueror who would give them temporal power. They wanted the meat which perishes, and not that which endures unto everlasting life.
With a yearning heart, Jesus saw those who had been His disciples departing from Him, the Life and the Light of men.
The consciousness that His compassion was unappreciated, His love unrequited, His mercy slighted, His salvation rejected, filled Him with sorrow that was inexpressible. It was such developments as these that made Him a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
Without attempting to hinder those who were leaving Him, Jesus turned to the twelve and said,
John 6:66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.
John 6:67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”
Will ye also go away? The construction of this question in Greek implies a negative answer, so that the force of the sentence is, “You do not wish to go away also, do you?” As John has just stated, Jesus knew who of His followers were true to Him and who were not (v. 64). Consequently this question was not asked for His own information, but rather to test the Twelve as to what their motives were in following Him.
The Greek verb may be translated, “we have found out,” implying that they had already learned the truth here, and still believed it to be true in spite of the many who now rejected Jesus. Peter, speaking for the Twelve, declared that not only had they had faith that Jesus was the Messiah, but also, because of the miracles they had seen and the words they had heard, they now could say that they knew He was the Son of God. The uncomprehending Jews had seen the same miracles and heard the same words. But they lacked faith, and as a result had turned away in disbelief. The disciples, accepting the words and works of Jesus by faith, had reached the opposite conclusion, and were now convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. In matters of the spirit, faith leads to knowledge.
John 6:68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
“To whom shall we go?” The teachers of Israel were slaves to formalism. The Pharisees and Sadducees were in constant contention.
To leave Jesus was to fall among sticklers for rites and ceremonies, and ambitious men who sought their own glory. The disciples had found more peace and joy since they had accepted Christ than in all their previous lives.
How could they go back to those who had scorned and persecuted the Friend of sinners? They had long been looking for the Messiah; now He had come, and they could not turn from His presence to those who were hunting His life, and had persecuted them for becoming His followers.
“To whom shall we go?” Not from the teaching of Christ, His lessons of love and mercy, to the darkness of unbelief, the wickedness of the world.
While the Saviour was forsaken by many who had witnessed His wonderful works, Peter expressed the faith of the disciples,
John 6:69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
The very thought of losing this anchor of their souls filled them with fear and pain. To be destitute of a Saviour was to be adrift on a dark and stormy sea.
Many of the words and acts of Jesus appear mysterious to finite minds, but every word and act had its definite purpose in the work for our redemption; each was calculated to produce its own result.
If we were capable of understanding His purposes, all would appear important, complete, and in harmony with His mission.
While we cannot now comprehend the works and ways of God, we can discern His great love, which underlies all His dealings with men.
He who lives near to Jesus will understand much of the mystery of godliness. He will recognize the mercy that administers reproof, that tests the character, and brings to light the purpose of the heart.
When Jesus presented the testing truth that caused so many of His disciples to turn back, He knew what the result of His words would be; but He had a purpose of mercy to fulfil.
He foresaw that in the hour of temptation every one of His beloved disciples would be severely tested. His agony in Gethsemane, His betrayal and crucifixion, would be to them a most trying ordeal.
Had no previous test been given, many who were actuated by merely selfish motives would have related to them.
When their Lord was condemned in the judgment hall; when the multitude who had hailed Him as their king hissed at Him and reviled Him; when the jeering crowd cried, “Crucify Him!”—when their worldly ambitions were disappointed, these self-seeking ones would, by renouncing their allegiance to Jesus, have brought upon the disciples a bitter, heart-burdening sorrow, in addition to their grief and disappointment in the ruin of their fondest hopes.
In that hour of darkness, the example of those who turned from Him might have carried others with them. But Jesus brought about this crisis while by His personal presence He could still strengthen the faith of His true followers.
My dear friend. Are you feeling the pain of disappointment at this time? Ask God to help you to endure it. Stay kind and forgiving and reflect the love and kindness of kind. There maybe some more crises coming your way.
Ask God to prepare you, through this present crisis, to be victorious in the future ones.
Compassionate Redeemer, who in the full knowledge of the doom that awaited Him, tenderly smoothed the way for the disciples, prepared them for their crowning trial, and strengthened them for the final test!
The dialogue ended on this sad note:
John 6:70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?”
John 6:71 He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.
If you were at Capernaum that day, you would have seen how crowds walking away from Jesus. The previous day they sought Him with a passion and now they leave with hatred in their hearts.
They were looking for temporal gains. How sad. They rejected His offer of eternal gains in the future kingdom He was going to establish.
We also have to choose. Reject Him or cherish Him.
Jesus had no option but the leave in order to escape a premature death. In the meaning a woman of Phoenicia heard of Jesus and had a longing to meet Him. Jesus knew about it and He left Israel to fulfil her heart’s desire.
We are going to visit her.