If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you will quickly learn that life is filled with boobytraps. These traps come in many different forms, and they are quite proficient in surprising you. Those traps can blindside you and send your faith into crisis mode.
Have you ever had an experience that made you wonder, “where is God?” Have you ever read something that caused confusion in what you know about God and faith?
I have been a follower of Jesus for long enough to confirm with conviction what Isaiah 55:8 says, “my thoughts are not your (God’s) thoughts, neither are your (God’s) ways my ways,”.
The fact that God is God tells us there will be things about Him and His ways we won’t understand.
John 6 represents an extended conversation Jesus is having over a couple of days. Several notable events take place during this time, such as Passover, Jesus and Peter walking on water and Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 which many of those in our text were participants.
Leading into our text, Jesus is having a dialogue with his disciples. Did you know that Jesus had more than 12 disciples? At one point, He had hundreds of disciples in a very short amount of time.
Through a series of intentionally crafted illustrations, Jesus shares about who He is and why He has come. These two facts are critical to our understanding of what Jesus is all about.
Then in verse 53 Jesus shares an illustration that sets these followers off and they begin to grumble. He said, ““Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” That’s a pretty dramatic statement, even appalling when taken at face value.
Jesus uses a form of speech called hyperbole, which uses exaggerated illustrations for emphasis or effect. He did this to draw in his audience so that they would seek understanding.
If those listening were tracking His discourse up to this statement, the illustration is clear. As the bread of life, they can obviously deduce that He is not a loaf of sourdough bread.
Just as the manna provided sustenance in the desert, Jesus offers spiritual nourishment through His teaching. But statements like this, when not understood in context, can become a stumbling block on the road of faith.
From this scenario, there are two streams of thinking that contributed to their faithlessness that is key for us to identify if we have any of these mindsets influencing our faith.
#1 Jesus didn’t fit their mold.
The people are looking for a political king to ignite a revolution to overthrow the Romans. In John 6:14-15, Jesus evades the crowds who want to take Him by force and make him King.
But that was not Jesus’ mission or purpose.
Jesus’ primary mission in coming to earth and living among us was to be the sacrifice to pay for your sin debt once and for all. That’s what Jesus provides.
Your greatest need in life isn’t health or wealth; it’s forgiveness. Ultimately heaven is the answer to every prayer request on earth.
Everything about life here and now is preparing us for heaven. Jesus does not promise immortality but eternity. After our first breath in heaven, every heartache we experienced on earth is going to be erased when we see the place that is being prepared for us.
#2 They were unwilling to relinquish their opinions.
In verse 41-42, they reject His claim of coming from God by stating, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?” John 6:42
If your opinions about God are different than what God says about Himself, then your opinions need to change.
The people choose to stand by what they believed instead of what He taught. To be a follower of Jesus is characterized by surrender and denying oneself.
Jesus said, “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
It’s an all or nothing proposition.
In one moment, Jesus’ following went from hundreds to a handful. Life is going to challenge your faith. There’s no avoiding that.
Are you going to follow Jesus even when life is unfair? Is your faith rooted in the Word of God or in what you want God to be? One will carry you through the storms in life, and the other will lead you to reject God.
The choice is yours.
(Click here to stream this talk.)