NOT EVERYONE WALKS AWAY
Every ministry faces difficult times. It is just a given! There will be times when things are up and there will be times when things are down. During all those times there are few ministry leaders who are doing all they can to see that the ministry loses supporters. In fact, those who are called to leadership positions in the church and other Christian ministries are doing all they can to ensure the continued success and growth of the ministry.
In John chapter 6, Jesus seems to be doing all He can to drive away as many people as He can from His ministry. Evidently, He didn’t read some of the books I have read on the subject of leadership and success in ministry. I mean, we are always trying to find a successful “enlargement” campaign, here, Jesus ran a successful “installment” campaign! When John chapter 6 opens, Jesus has over 5,000 people following Him and listening to Him speak. When this chapter closes, He only has 12 men with Him and one of them is not even saved.
If Jesus is doing anything in these verses, He is issuing a call to commitment. He knows that many of these followers are merely there for what they can get for their flesh. Jesus lays down the gauntlet and calls for every one of those followers to commit to Him and to Him alone. His call to commitment has a two-fold outcome. First, it clarifies His call, His mission and His ministry for those who would follow Him. Second, it purifies the ranks of His disciples, effectively weeding out most of those who are not genuine in their faith or commitment.
Our text verses reveal Jesus clearly stating the truth about Himself and His ministry. Here, we are allowed to see thousands of people turn their backs on Him and walk away. After the crowds leave, v. 66, Jesus immediately turns to His 12 disciples in verse 67 and asks them to make a personal commitment as well. One can almost hear His heartbreak as He asks them, “Will ye also go away?”
Friends, we are living in an hour when many are walking away from the things of the Lord. This should not surprise us because it is exactly what the Bible said would happen in the last days. We are told that there will be a “falling away”, 2 Thes. 2:3. We are also told that in the end times, men will “have a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”, 2 Tim. 3:5. Yet, when we see it happening all around us, we are surprised. We are shocked!
I think the verses we have read this morning shed some light on this problem. There are some insights in this text as to why people make the decisions they do concerning their walk with the Lord. Allow me to share a few of them with you are we consider the thought: Not Everyone Walks Away.
V. 60-66 NOT EVERYONE CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH
(The fact of the matter is that while not everyone walks away from the Lord, some do. Why is that? If we take this passage as the answer to that question, it becomes clear that Not Everyone Can Handle The Truth.)
A. As this chapter unfolds, it becomes increasingly clear that doubt, suspicion, and hostility are mounting against the Lord Jesus. These people who wanted to make Him king after He fed them, v. 15, want nothing more to do with Him after they hear His message, v. 26-65.
B. Why the change? Jesus told them the truth and they could not handle it! Notice His claims:
1. To Be The Way Of Salvation – v. 29
2. To Be The Son of God – v. 32
3. That He Is Superior to Moses and the Manna – v. 35; 49-58
4. That Salvation was a matter of faith alone – v. 35-40; 63
5. That apart from God’s intervention, they could not believe – v. 44; 65
C. When the truth is revealed to us, there are only two possible reactions to it: It can be received, or it can be rejected. People receive the truth when they see it for what it is: Truth! People reject the truth for many reasons. Here are just a few:
1. Some People Misunderstand It – Nicodemus thought Jesus was talking about gynecology when He was actually speaking of the new birth. The woman at the well thought Jesus was talking about plumbing when He was actually talking about Himself, the Water of Life. The man at the pool of Bethesda thought Jesus was talking about a rescue mission when He was actually talking placing faith in Jesus. This trend continues today! That is why people join the church and are baptized without ever being saved. That is why the Word of God is so offensive to many people. They misunderstand the truth and, as a result, they reject it.
2. Some People Are Opposed To It – As Jesus revealed Himself and His demands in this passage, the Jews were in constant and increasing opposition, v. 41-42; 52; 60. The Jews were not able to accept His Deity, His impending Death or His claims of Lordship. They opposed Him at every turn! So it is today, many are opposed to the truths of the Bible and the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ. His call to commitment goes against their desire to live for themselves, and as a result, they find themselves in opposition to the Lord. Friends, the claims of the Gospel, the cross and the blood of Jesus are designed to be offensive!
3. Some People Are Blind To It – All the way through this passage, the Jews had this approach to Jesus: “Show us and we will believe.” They had already seen Him feed five thousand with five loaves of bread and 2 fish, v. 5-13. They had already surmised that He had somehow, miraculously, crossed the lake, v. 22-25, yet they were blind to Who He was and what He was doing. When He made His claims and issued His call to commitment, they were unable to see the truth because they were blind! The sad fact of the matter is this: all men are blind to the truth until their eyes are supernaturally opened by the intervention of God, 2 Cor. 4:4; John 6:44; 65. That is why so many people reject the truth and embrace the lie, they are simply blind to the truth!
4. Some People Want The Experience But Not The Expectation – These people were following Jesus because He had satisfied their fleshly appetites, v. 1-15. They wanted more of the same, v. 34. In fact, they wanted Jesus to prove that He was greater than Moses, v. 22-31. They were looking for something that satisfied their flesh and that made them feel good about themselves. They wanted to experience it! They wanted to be following the next king. They wanted the miracles and the sensational. But, when Jesus began to talk about His expectations and issued a call for commitment, they turned away from Him and walked away. Why? They wanted to be carried away in the excitement of the moment with no commitment.
The same mentality has developed within the church! There are many today who want a religious experience, but without and expectations. They want to serve God for what they can get out it, without any concern for His glory of His will. They want entertainment and excitement without the commitment that comes along with the proclamation of the truth. The churches that are growing the fastest today are those who minimize biblical doctrine the requirements of the faith and emphasize entertainment and experience. All you need to succeed today as a church is a contemporary band, a message that challenges no one’s life, a youth program that will babysit the children while the parents are lulled to sleep by a “touchy-feely” religion that is devoid of the truth! (Note: People who walk away from the things of God are selfish! They are only concerned about themselves and how they feel. Imagine how the disciples felt when the multitude walked away. Those who are left are always adversely affected by those who choose to walk away.)
D. Not everyone can handle the truth! Sometimes, the truth is tough! Sometimes the truth makes demands upon our lives. Sometimes the truth is brutal and seems unfeeling. But, the truth is always true! It is always right and it is always perfect. Not everyone can handle the truth! Can you?
II. V. 64, 70 EVERYONE LIVES IN A GLASS HOUSE
(Another insight in this passage that needs to be addressed is this: Everyone Lives In A Glass House. Simply stated, regardless of what we may think, we are hiding nothing from the gaze of the Lord, Heb. 4:13.)
In this passage, we see the truth that Jesus why the multitudes were following Him, v. 26-27, 64. He also knew the deepest secrets of the hearts of those who appeared to be the most committed to Him, v. 64, 70-71.
When the Lord looks at your life, what does He see? Does He see absolute commitment and faith? Or, does He see a life that wants the experiences but lacks the commitment? The harsh truth is that He sees you and me just like we are! He sees us in ways that we cannot even see ourselves! Nothing and no one is hidden from His all-seeing gaze today! Not Zacchaeus in that tree, not Peter by that Roman fire; not even the hearts of the hypocritical Pharisees, not even Judas Iscariot, who was numbered with the 12. (Even Judas had deceived the 11 other disciples! They did not know that he was a fake!)
My friends, you and I live in glass houses today! I cannot see into your heart and you cannot see into mine, but God sees us just as we are. What does He see when He looks at you? Friends, we may deceive each other, but we will never deceive God! He knows where you stand spiritually today. There has never been a better incentive for us to look carefully at our hearts
V. 67-69 GENUINE FAITH CANNOT WALK AWAY
When the disciples are asked by Jesus if they too will leave Him, Peter answers for the group. He expresses their total commitment and states the fact that they know Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and is the way to eternal life. Peter had taken a step that many in his day had not, or could not take. Peter had made the necessary connection between the words of Jesus and Jesus Himself. To receive Christ is to receive His Word. To receive His Word is to receive Him! They are always taken together! Because Peter had placed his faith in Jesus and in His Word, Peter was made the partaker of two great possessions. These two possessions allowed Peter to make an absolute commitment of his life to the Lord Jesus Christ. Those two possessions are:
1. Faith – (“we believe”) An inward conviction that Jesus is Who He claims to be.
2. Experience – (“and are sure”) A changed life, a full heart and a new desire and direction in life are all too potent to be ignored.
Peter knew how his life had been changed and this was enough to make his state with confidence that he would not walk away! Oh, there came a time of weakness in Peter’s life when he failed the Lord. He did turn his back on Jesus for a time, but he did not walk away forever! One of the best definitions I have ever heard of what a Christian really is was this: “One who cannot walk away!”
Once you have felt the powerful touch of Almighty God, once you have walked in the light of His glory, once you have tasted of His goodness and experienced His best, you will never be satisfied with substitutes and imitations! You may wander for a time, but you, like the Prodigal son will “come to yourself”. You will remember what it was like in the Father’s house and you will come home! When you do, He will receive you with open arms and perfect restoration.
What are we to think of those who do walk away from the truth? What of those who choose the way of the flesh of the way of faith? What of those who willingly reject the truth in favor of the lie? I think the Bible has the answer: 1 John 2:19. We are to love them and warn them, but when their decision has been made, we are to leave them in the hands of God, Titus 3:10. At the same time, we should examine the level of our own commitment to the Lord! Let us be sure that we are where He wants us to be so that we do not become castaways as well.