Walking Away from Jesus

by on December 29th, 2010
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John 6:66 is a very sad description of people two thousand years ago as well as today. Understanding how disciples could turn away from Jesus is an important concept. It can be argued that these “disciples” were really not believers. That very well may be true, but I have no way of knowing. The bulk of Scripture warns about the impossibility of one believer judging the heart of another believer. However, it seems to me that because they are called “disciples”, I should consider them to be believers, albeit shallow, uncommitted believers. I realize that “disciples” simply means learners, however it seems that in the New Testament the term “disciple” had taken on the additional meaning of also being a follower to some degree. There are many who claim to be disciples who have some fond feelings for Jesus whom they regard as a good man or good teacher who loved the outcasts. They have not seen a revelation of Jesus where they have recognized Him as Almighty God. They have also not seen themselves in desperate need of His atoning death to cleanse them from the mountain of sin they have piled up. As long as we refuse to proclaim the whole truth, these ignorant souls are content in their false sense of security which often makes them feel good about not only Jesus but also about themselves. People in the pew often do not want to hear the whole counsel of God proclaimed. May God have mercy on all of us. There is another consideration. The Bible does not declare definitively that this was a permanent falling away. That meaning is very possible but not definite.

Verses in the Bible do not occur in a vacuum. In order to understand verse 66, we must see the overall passage. John 6 is a phenomenal passage. The Holy Spirit selected and arranged some marvelous events and teaching to show Jesus as the Master Teacher. Throughout this chapter, Jesus is seen presenting precious truth about Himself being the All Sufficient One and the Christian as the one who is the absolutely insufficient one. Christ’s main purpose here is to teach and train the Twelve. The “crowd” and the “disciples” are important and precious to Jesus and He dealt with them in love and mercy and grace. He met their needs and the teaching applied to them also, but I feel quite sure that He was focusing on the Twelve. Obviously, He also knew that the “crowd” and “disciples” would misunderstand His teaching and reject His message and Him. Symbolism from the Old Testament plays a large part of the teaching in this passage. Christ presents Himself as the Bread of Life which surpasses and supersedes the manna described in Exodus and Numbers.

The feeding of the five thousand likely represents the high water mark of Jesus’ popularity. Many were following Him around seeking a king who would feed them, heal them, and free them from foreign rulers, etc. without charging a fee or levying taxes. When the “crowd” and “disciples” figured out that Jesus would not be that type of king, it was a certainty that they would cease to follow Him. Thus it is my humble opinion that these “disciples” were able to “turn away from Jesus” because they were uncommitted, hard hearted believers unfit for service. I also believe that their leaving facilitated Christ’s main purpose as well. Their leaving is a grievous thing but it did free up valuable time for Jesus to teach and train the Twelve. I pray that the “disciples” who walked away were truly believers in Christ, because the implications were enormous and eternal not only for them but for many of my friends and acquaintances.

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