Read: John 6:61-69
Meditation: “The Saddest Question in the World”
The previous weeks’ lectionary readings culminate in today’s passage. The challenge has been extended. The metaphors have been laid out. The message is clear.
And the response is…..”many of his disciples turned away and no longer walked with him” (v. 66).
Notice—many of his disciples. Here’s the new note. The religious leaders had already conspired against him. The general public was going its way as well. But now, even his disciples were bailing out.
And as Jesus watched them do so, he turned to the apostles and asked the saddest question in the world, “Are you going to leave too?” (v. 67).
Well….we know that some, in fact, did. And….we know that some, in fact, do. So, Jesus has to continue to ask the same questions down the corridors of time, “Are you going to leave too?”
It’s a question disciples have to answer, because it doesn’t matter how long or how deeply we follow Jesus, there will always come the moment when “a hard saying” will be given to us. That’s just what it means when all of us are operating with a sinful life expressed in imperfect systems. There’s no way to escape the inevitable moment when Jesus asks each one of us, “Do you love me more than these other things?”
And believe it or not, many disciples turn away and no longer walk with Jesus. We walk with our political affiliations. We walk with our theological systems. We walk with our institutional presumptions. We walk with our denominational or parachurch prejudices. We walk with our programs. We walk with our plans. And…we walk away from Jesus.
Believe me, I do not like to write this. But it’s Gospel. It is the inevitable stage in the journey when we all have to look into our hearts and see if a secondary element has become a primary idol—a “Jesus substitute.” Unless we are willing to do the hard homework of brutal introspection, we will walk away—and even think we’ve been “true to God” by doing so!
But….thanks be to God….old Peter spoke the very words Jesus was hoping to hear—the very words that keep us where God wants us to be: “Master, to whom shall we go? You alone have the words that give eternal life, and we believe them and know you are the holy Son of God” (6:31, The Living Bible).