Our only foundation is the Lord Jesus Christ and without this, no matter how hard we try, we will not be able to live the way that God requires. To try and live this Christian life through religious observance is to deny the Saviour who redeemed us by His Blood.
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. John 6:35-39.
It becomes obvious as we read this text that great crowds were willing to follow Jesus as long as they were treated with miracle after miracle. Many today have based their salvation upon some miracle that has happened in their lives or in the lives of others. While these experiences can assist our faith it is important to realize that we cannot have them as our foundation. When the “Rock of my salvation” (Psalm 89:26) become anything or anyone other than Jesus there is no power to stand in the faith.
The crowds were willing to follow Jesus until He began to make personal demands upon their lives. It is easy to follow the Jesus of religion who does not call for a separation from the world. The Jesus of the media and popular religion is not the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus of the Bible is “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), but let us not forget that one day men will cry out to be delivered from “the wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:16). We expect a lamb to be meek and gentle not full of anger and wrath, yet this is exactly how Jesus feels about man’s sin which one day will culminate in judgement. When Jesus calls us into a holy life it is so that we can really live as the children of God. We are making ourselves the enemies of God if we live any other way. Many believers cannot deal with this so return to sinful ways and to walk with Jesus no more.
So why did these thousands of people whom He had fed, raised from the dead, healed and set free from demonic power get so offended? Basically they were outraged at spiritual truth.
“When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, He said unto them, Doth this offend you?” (John 6:61)
I am convinced that if Jesus had asked them to perform some religious exercises they would have asked no questions, but as soon as He began to teach them the Word of God it was too much for them to handle. You see, a Sunday Christian who attends church and does all the right things is not really what the Lord is calling for. He wants those who are willing to hear His voice and to follow His direction. There are those who are able to follow a Jesus that excites them with miracles and experiences, but when it comes to personal surrender they so easily walk away. If Jesus had come preaching “Seven Steps to Happiness” He would have had a huge following and would have never gone to the Cross. Here we see Jesus teaching something that was going to leave Him with just twelve disciples when He had finished. If there was an ancient version of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” Jesus did not bother to read it! Why is the self-esteem and prosperity teachings so acceptable? They simply do not teach the whole Word of God and do not call for personal commitment to the Lord that saved them.
These people wanted a Messiah they could manipulate. A Jesus that was just flesh and blood not a Jesus who is the Son of the Living God. They wanted a Jesus who would provide all their needs when they were in trouble or got sick. They wanted a Saviour whom they could command to do as they pleased. The bubble burst when He started to speak about spiritual matters.
“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believeth not, and who should betray Him. And He said, Therefore I said unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given him of My Father.” (6:63-65).
The eating of His flesh and drinking of His Blood causes much confusion. This confusion is the result of people not knowing the Jesus of the Bible – the real Jesus. They think they know about Him until He calls them to really follow Him. Unless we receive our spiritual sustenance from Him we cannot really be called Christians. In a nutshell, Jesus is saying that He must be everything to us. If we feed from the world while trying to live for Christ we will fail. We fail because we are living by the rules and morals of the flesh rather than in the Spirit. Almost everyone you meet will call themselves a Christian without the least bit of understanding of what it means to be one. Try and tell that same person the Bible definition of a Christian and they will think that you have gone crazy. There are those in and out of the church that think that as long as they are good people and believe in Jesus they will make Heaven. There are those who believe that since they accepted Jesus some time in the past it does not matter that they are now backslidden or living sinful lives, once they are saved they are always saved. Look at what John writes in verse 66: “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.” That they were disciples is beyond doubt, but are we going to suggest that they remained that way after they left Him? Why did they and so many today backslide? Mainly because they do not know the Jesus of the Bible. If they did they would never even think about walking away from Him.
The true Church of Jesus Christ is always going to be a remnant. “True Christianity is an all-out commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ” (William McDonald). These are the ones who are determined to “endure unto the end” (Matthew 24:13). They are the ones who remain when everyone else has run after the latest ‘star’ to hit the church-world. These are they that have “no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3), who “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7), and give no “place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27). They are not of those that love this world, but of those that have set their “affection on things above” (Colossians 3:2).
Jesus asked the twelve, “Will ye also go away?” (:67). The same question is being asked of each one of us. We cannot hope to mix our faith with worldliness. If we try it will prove that we really did not know the true Jesus. Since Jesus is asking us the same question I wonder what our reply is? Do we have the courage of Peter to stand up and say that we will follow Jesus regardless of cost?
Somehow, despite any misgivings he might have had about what Jesus said concerning eating His flesh and drinking His blood, Peter knew that Jesus must have been referring to something beyond the natural understanding. When Jesus asked the disciples, “Will ye also go away?” (:67), Peter’s response must have sounded like music in Jesus’ ears. No matter how much Scripture may offend our sensibilities we should realize the same truth as did Peter. “Then Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the Words of eternal life” (:68). In a multi-faith world it is easy for people to get confused and to opt for a religion that does not ask too much of them, and to settle in one that appears to satisfy all their carnal needs. This is why pure, simple Biblical Christianity is rejected by the world. The devil is not going to allow people to come to the knowledge of the truth of eternal life in Jesus without trying to blind them with religion. No, Satan doesn’t mind religion! He is the father of religion because he is the father of lies. Religion may satisfy the carnal man – the flesh, but it will never satisfy the spirit of man. Present the Bible truth to people and they will not want to know. It calls them to follow Jesus and to be separated from sin and the world. Yet the same people think nothing of undergoing foolish rituals and pilgrimages to please their god. Tell them of the Saviour that became man, performed many wonderful miracles, spoke the words of life, died on the Cross for the sins of the world, rose from the dead after three days, ascended into Heaven, and promised that He was coming back soon, and you will usually get a look of disbelief from them. The same people may believe that they have to go and worship the false god Allah at the Kaaba, believe that their god came to earth as a monkey, elephant or even a blue-coloured deity, believe the power of dead saints, rosary beads and the pope is the vicar of Christ. If they don’t believe the truth they will fall for any lie. Why is it that so many Christians have gone over to ecumenism and multi-faith theology (polytheism)? In reality they have never known the Jesus of the Bible. Yes, they know the silver screen, Hollywood style Jesus who is little different from the Jesus of religion, but they don’t know the Lamb of God who roars like a lion! They know the baby the manger but not the Jesus who is King of kings and Lord of lords. Maybe they have fallen into the age old lie of making gods after their own image and imagination and thinking that their creation is really the God of the Bible.
How is it then that others know the real Jesus? These are they who are willing to accept the living word of God. To these people God gives the revelation that changes their lives forever. Notice what Peter said, “We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the Living God” (:69). This revelation didn’t come from Peter’s human understanding or religious thought, it came from Heaven. “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in Heaven” (Matthew 16:17). Eternal words may not be accepted by excitement seekers, but of all people on earth we need to know the Jesus of the Bible and to follow His Word regardless of how much it may offend our human sensibilities.