The Gospel of John now moves to the early ministry of Jesus, both in demonstrating his authority as from God, and reaching out to all beyond Israel alone. The message of Jesus has gone out from now from multiple witnesses, not just Jesus. From John the Baptist, following on the predictions and words of the Old Testament and of Moses. And even so: I know you do not have the love of God in your hearts (5:42), how are you going to believe what I say (5:47). And the challenge has been: No fence sitting now about the person of Jesus. The miraculous signs of John’s gospels now speak to the identity and authority of Jesus as the Son of God:
- Changing water into wine at the wedding at Cana (Jn 2:1-11);
- Healing the royal official’s son (Jn 4:46-54);
- Healing the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem (Jn 5:1-15);
- Feeding the 5,000 (Jn 6:5-14);
- Walking on water (Jn 6:16-21);
- Healing the man born blind (Jn 9:1-7); and
- Raising Lazarus from the dead (Jn 11:1-45).
But now the unexpected. The requirements are too hard, the road too steep, and most of Jesus’ disciples begin to desert him.
60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” 61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit[a] and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” 66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.) John 6:60-71.
1. The Confusion in Distinguishing the Physical World from the Spiritual Kingdom. By now we are well into the biblical narrative where Jesus tells Nichodemus, you must be born again – and he is confused by this analogy; Jesus tells the Samaritan woman, He is a spring of water welling up to eternal life; to his disciples, he says, my food is to do the will of him who sent me. Now, again, Jesus says, whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life. Most of his disciples did not understand this.
2. If in Doubt, Bail out. This is a hard teaching, and as a result, most of the disciples did not understand it, could not accept it, grumbled about it, and were offended by it, and many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. Jesus purposefully avoided the crowds in his early ministry and did not hold back on his message to his disciples, knowing not only that most would desert him, but he entertained within his select group, the true betrayer. Have I not chosen you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil. This of course was Judas who would be his final betrayer before the cross.
3. The Few Disciples Who Understood the Message, and who Jesus was. After most of the disciples deserted him, Jesus turn to his twelve and asked whether they would also leave him. Jesus showed himself as the rock, as one upon whom the church would be built.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:68-69. this process of reducing the disciples to the core followers became not only the way in which Jesus continued his instruction to his followers and enemies but formed up the group upon whom the church would be built – even though they ALL would desert him at the cross until he reappeared to them in Acts 1 after his resurrection. Note: the most faithful and resolute disciples during Jesus’ life were not the men, but the women who followed him.
Success is the opposite of what we naturally think when looking into the New Testament. It is not measured by physical terms, wealth, position, status, or even influence, but by those who understand that real success is how we are viewed and live in a way that has eternal and spiritual value. It starts with Jesus. It lays up reward in heaven.
8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. I timothy 4:8. Stay well this week.