John 6:66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
Okay, so I know… odd choice of scripture today. There’s a back story however, that leads up to this part of the chapter. If you haven’t read John chapter 6, I would encourage you to do so now before reading the rest of this entry. The deal is this, Jesus has just given a pretty hard to swallow teaching – quite literally. He goes into this thing about people eating his flesh and drinking his blood. I wonder what they were thinking. Maybe this was some cannibalistic crazy man? It was a tough one, all right. And of course Jesus, being Jesus and all, had a deeper meaning he was trying to convey.
You see, he had just fed five thousand people as much bread as they could eat. It wasn’t like he baked it, he multiplied the little that there was. Then he begins to teach into it. The people start asking for a miracle (odd since they just saw one) and tell Jesus about the time when God sent manna from heaven while the Israelites were in the desert. Remember the manna? They could only get enough for one day. It wouldn’t be any good otherwise, it spoiled. In other words, today’s manna was good for today. Tomorrow’s manna would come tomorrow. Jesus essentially says that He is the new manna from heaven. Isn’t that profound? Jesus needs to be pursued everyday. He needs to be fresh in our lives daily. We can’t live out yesterday’s revelation; we need fresh vision from Him daily. We need living relationship with Him today.
But they get real tripped up in His teaching. He is driving the point home, that He is to be consumed just like they did with the manna. I think that is why communion is such an important part of our walk, because it helps make the flesh and blood of Christ tangible in our lives. Of course it is a cracker and juice, but there is a tangible ingesting while remembering the sacrifice of Christ. I think Jesus wanted us to get this; I think he wanted us to ingest him daily – spiritually, of course.
Rather than seeking to understand what in the world Jesus was talking about, it says in John 6:66 that many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. This teaching was just too hard. He was requiring too much. His expectations were too high. And I wonder if that has happened to any of us? We hear a hard teaching and decide it is just too much. The pastor preaches about sacrifice, giving your life, tithing, fasting, tongues and it’s just too much. And like those disciples who reached their wall, we miss the very best of Jesus. We miss the joy of giving, the freedom in sacrifice, and the intimacy of drawing close to our Lord. It was those who heard the hard teaching and responded, that had the greatest time of their life with Jesus. It was those who continued to follow him, even with the hard stuff, that found themselves in the upper room in Acts chapter 2. It was those that received power from on high and had the most fulfilling life imaginable. And the same goes for us too. Jesus does have some hard teachings for us, but when we realize and trust that he knows best, we can respond and find life!