Did Jesus Really Say . . .?
Sometimes Jesus says things that are hard to hear and are difficult to understand. Our text for today is John 6:51-69. Take a minute to read:
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit[e] and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Here are a few more of Jesus’ tough sayings —
Matthew 5:44: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Matthew 7:14: “Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
Come again? Say what??
John 14:26: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Luke 14:26: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.”
Tough, tough sayings from Jesus. How can we maintain faith while hearing such difficult things? Can’t he just stick to the love and mercy stuff? Nope. In fact, when challenged by his disciples upon hearing these difficult things, Jesus doubled down. “You heard me right the first time. Let me be clear so there are no misunderstandings.”
You might react one of three ways that his disciples reacted at the time.
1. This guy’s crazy. I’m outta here! Sadly, this was the response of many of his disciples at the time. John 6:66 “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” This happens to many today.
2. Well, what He really meant to say was . . . [insert the “spin” of your choice to make Jesus’ words more palatable for you].
3. That’s hard to hear but you’re the Lord so I accept it.
The last was Peter’s response: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Did Jesus Really Say . . . That?? Yes, He did. Quite literally, if you’re looking for meaning in this life, Jesus is the source of life. The source of what you’re searching for. Your answers aren’t anywhere else. Where else could Peter go in his search for a savior? For the end to the pain and suffering in this life? There’s no getting around the fact that Jesus may present some inconvenient truths to you. You will have to make some choices in your life if you intend to follow Him. But when you do, He has this comforting message for you:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.