Journal John 6 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”
But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life—but there are some of you who do not believe…” (for Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him). And (Jesus) said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by the Father.”
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So, Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…” John 6:60-68
Observation: Does Jesus communicate controversial things? Perhaps to those folks who have preconceived notions about what the Kingdom is about and how they are to navigate in this world…
Analysis: I must remember that there is a difference in the Gospels between run of the mill “disciples” and the “Twelve.” Making sure that I understand the context of the scripture I am reading makes a difference with understanding who is being referenced.
Earlier in John 6, Jesus spoke about eating his flesh and drinking his blood. Even as a metaphor this can be pretty extreme to some ears and ends up clanking against a stony heart. I wonder why Jesus didn’t change gears and attempt to explain “I am the bread of life” in another way and explain he is not promoting cannibalism? (Bread of life; Manna given in the Wilderness: there is a correlation to be studied and analyzed here.)
The point that strikes me today is that the “disciples” challenged Jesus and erected defenses—instead of asking questions. A “disciple” by definition is a learner, a student. While no teacher worth his salt would mind engagement by a student, the attitude of the student is important. “Do I want to learn, or have I learned enough to deviate along my own path?”
Doing devotions with my wife this morning, we discussed how different denominations came to be: they seemingly latched upon a particular “doctrine” to major in, gathered like-minded people (disciples) and started churches along those doctrinal lines.
Is this how denominations start? “These sayings are hard…” perhaps implying that I don’t want to work that hard, there has to be an easier way…I just want to “do good things”, I don’t want to make a spectacle of myself (let me set in the back by the door), I don’t want to think or study, but I do want to feel good after Sunday service. How much has that has described me over my years…
I notice that Jesus didn’t chase after the “disciples” (‘No!! Come back, I will explain everything!!’) but He did look at the Twelve: “What about you all? Leaving too?”
For me, where am I to go? Only You, Lord, have the words of life—even if they are hard to hear.
Prayer: Lord, this is so familiar to me. I still have questions about the sayings you told us. I am learning (talking with my wife during devotions and more) to be comfortable with that mighty theological response, “I don’t know.”
Please keep my head on straight.
Ricky Two Shoes