“From that time many of His disciples went away and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’ But Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also, we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.'”
I read a great article this morning by Bob Butler, “Why I’m Not A Committed Christian”.
In this article Mr. Butler discusses the difference between a “committed” Christian and a “surrendered” Christian. He included the verses above in his discussion. I was so moved by this article that I prayed and studied these verses myself. It is my prayer that my words will be heart-changing for you just as the Holy Spirit has been working on me all day.
Jesus is addressing the multitude that follows Him from place to place, thus, His followers. They enjoy His miracles. He’s a great public speaker – even entertaining at times. Because they are regulars at His gatherings, it is quite the social event. It’s not uncommon to see neighbors and friends, probably family members as well.
Yep. This Jesus is pretty remarkable. You never know what this faith-thing can do for ya.
Then Jesus gets down to the nitty-gritty. At the beginning of Chapter 6 of John, Jesus feeds the 5,000. The people were awe-struck. Right after this, Jesus walked on the water. As you can imagine, word traveled fast among the followers. They were amazed, intrigued…interested.
But then Jesus began to answer their questions. He didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear – things that would tickle their ears and make them feel good. No, He spoke to them of spiritual truths that were hard to swallow. The “followers” wanted the ability to “work the works of God” (verse 28). They wanted to see more miracles of Jesus to give them reason to believe Him (verse 30).
Perhaps instead of following and loving Jesus, they were following and loving what He could do for them.
I KNOW. That one hurt me too.
Well into Chapter 6, Jesus is explaining to the followers that He is the Bread of Life, that they must partake of His body and blood in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Not exactly what they wanted to hear. They murmured among themselves, “Isn’t this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?” (verse 42)
What Jesus was teaching them was not what they had in mind. It wasn’t according to their agenda, their idea of religion. Jesus was teaching them of a personal embrace and trust AND belief in the ways of the Father. God’s ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts – not now, not back then. These “followers” were trying to understand spiritual things with an intellectual mindset.
So what does this have to do with “surrender” versus “committed”?
Consider the following quote from John Gill’s, Exposition of the Entire Bible: “Many who followed Christ heard Him, professed to believe in Him, were even baptized in His Name, but were not true disciples, only nominal ones. They had never learned of the Father, otherwise they would have known what it was to come to Christ, as the Father’s gift, and under the drawings of His grace, and would not have been offended by the words of our Lord.” John Gill goes on to say the “followers” were interested in setting up their own righteousness according to their own ideals rather than submitting to the righteousness of Christ.
Being a DISCIPLE of Jesus Christ requires surrender – surrender to His authority in our lives. It requires abandonment to His ideals, His purpose. It requires allowing Him to transform us, to renew our minds. Discipleship requires picking up our cross and following HIM, not a movement, not a generational warm-a-pew Sunday. Discipleship requires following Him and Him alone.
Why would the Lord want us to consider such a difficult message? For the same reason He spoke it to the multitudes of followers. He was concerned for their eternity.
Jesus is concerned for our eternity also.
The day is coming when we must know the One in Whom we have believed. We can’t be “grandfathered” in to the Kingdom. We must place Him as our first love, our Lord, totally surrendered to His authority.
Verse 67 reads, “Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?'”
These words brought sorrow to my heart.
Lord, Help us to understand. Open our eyes that we might see, our ears that we might hear what You are speaking to us today. Awaken our hearts to love You with every ounce of our being, to understand the omnipotence and Holiness of our Lord. Allow us to feel Your sorrow as the “followers” – those on the periphery – walked away when their discipleship began to cost something. Pierce our hearts, Lord so that we can receive Your Word. Thank You. We love You, Lord.