John 6:60-71 Thinning the Herd

Cross the line from believing to knowing?

We join Jesus today as many of His followers leave Him. I don’t know how much time has passed between Jesus’ message to the people about “eating His flesh and drinking His blood.” I don’t know if His discourse with His disciples follows right on the heels of yesterday’s teaching, or if His group has some time to mull over what He has taught.

Jesus knew His follower’s hearts intimately. He knew which ones were TRUE disciples and which ones were along for the ride.  Well, the “ride” just got scary! We know Jesus was using metaphorical references in His teaching, but the images He chose were very troubling to many of those listening, including many who claimed to be His disciples. They only saw the literal images and didn’t try and find the spiritual meaning that Jesus was freely sharing.

I’m wondering if some of them weren’t even convinced that Jesus was sent by God. Jesus’ question, “Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?” (verse 62) was off-putting. This was going to come about after His resurrection; when He ascended back to the Father. But many of those who were currently following Him would miss out on this momentous event.

I wonder what I would have “heard” if I had listened to Jesus’ message that day. Which group would I be with at the end of the story? Would I be pulling back or pressing in?  I pray it is the latter!

Jesus doesn’t scold this group for not really believing. He tells them that He already knows that many of them won’t stick because His Father had not called them to come to Him. “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” (verse 65b). God hadn’t called everyone in the group. They were there of their own accord and for their own reasons, not His.

John tells us that Jesus addressed His 12 closest disciples and asked them where they now stood. Many of His followers had deserted Him, but not the ones HE specifically chose. The ones He chose on the mountain top. The ones the Father had specifically given to Him. This group saw the truth. Plus the one who would be used in the end to fulfil prophecy. No, Jesus wasn’t in the dark there either.

This is where my question of time line comes in. How long before the majority left? How long before Jesus asked the question, “Do you want to go away as well?” (verse 67). Did the others jump ship immediately or over a few hours or days?

Peter’s answer is the one I pray I would have given that day; “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God” (verses 68-69). I bet those words touched Jesus’ heart. Truer words were never spoken!

Peter spoke of their surety that Jesus was the Messiah. They didn’t understand all that Jesus’ role entailed, but they KNEW He was the Promised One. The Holy One of God. He proved it again and again to this small group. All that He did built their belief in Him day by day. Funny though how those who left had seen the same proof but didn’t come to the same conclusion. God at work.

I wonder if the disciples had a “Things Jesus says that that I don’t want to hear” file. I imagine His next words would have fit in that file quite nicely. Jesus starts out with what feels like a reassurance of His decision in choosing each of them but He ends His statement by saying one of them “is a devil.” He knew who and what He was alluding to, but they didn’t. I wonder if Judas knew by this time.

Father God, thank You for drawing me to Yourself. Thank You Jesus for proving to me day in and day out that You are exactly who You say You are. Thank You for opening my heart and mind to receive Your truth. Without Your calling I would be in the same boat with those who walked away.

Father God, call my children and grandchildren. I know I have asked this of You on many occasions. I pray I’m not asking in doubt, but restating my plea for Your assistance. Like the woman who kept coming back to the judge asking for his help. This is a desperate need that I am willing to bring back to You every time. “Is it time yet?” Help me to trust in Your timing. Thank You for always knowing my heart.

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