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John 6:66-71, NIV
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 believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
70 Then Jesus replied, "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!" 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)
May 5, 2011This chapter began with an exhilarating moment--Jesus feeding 5000 men on a hillside near the Galilean Sea. It ends "in the pits" with many of his disciples leaving him, not because of what Jesus did but because of what Jesus said. Were they disappointed? Disillusioned? Did Jesus fail to meet their expectations?
Was it the strangeness of his words that turned people off? Or the way Jesus said it? Was it too much at one time so that it overwhelmed them?
When I'm faced with things in the Bible I don't understand, my inclination is to put the difficult part "on the back burner" so to speak, and focus on what is clear. There's plenty that we can understand and act upon. If all I can absorb is that I am to turn my attention toward Jesus in my daily life, and feed on him with the same thoughtful anticipation that I use to prepare and eat my meals, then that's enough understanding to get me started. If the whole is too mystifying, then a small piece is a good place to begin.
Sometimes I think the question is, "Do I want to believe?" If I do, then I find a way to begin. If I don't, then everything can become an excuse. Simon Peter and the rest of the Twelve wanted with all their heart to believe and so they remained with Jesus. They trusted the validity of Jesus' words even when they didn't fully grasp their meaning. Belief came first; understanding will follow.
More journal entries
June 16, 1983For some of those at the synagogue that day their expectations of Jesus were plummeting. What Jesus did was terrific--feeding a crowd from a boy's picnic lunch, healing the sick, calming a storm. But what he said . . . who could fathom that!
I suppose different people will hear different things when they read these verses. But this morning I hear discouragement. It says many of his disciples left off following Jesus. Many is a lot of people. Love may have turned to hate for some of them. This verse also describes today's religious scene. People for many and varied reasons, still take leave from actively following Jesus.
Peter and the others who remained were seeing something the others missed. Maybe they were learning to use the eyes of their soul as well as their physical eyes. They were picking up additional messages about what the works of God are and mean, both now and in the future. They would dare to risk their lives and fortunes for a life Jesus called eternal.
Eternal life - we don't know what Peter meant by that phrase. It's not in the Old Testament Scriptures. Which means Peter and the others did not have a foundation upon which to build a framework for that concept. All they had was complete trust in the teachings and person of Jesus. Which, 2000 years later, is where many of us are at too. Like that story in Matthew 7, we are trying to build a secure abode; not on the sand, but on the rock, Christ Jesus our Lord.
The other three Gospel writers talked about the kingdom of heaven. John talked about eternal life. Were these two different ways of expressing the same thing?
January 23, 2002Jesus to the Twelve: Will you also go?
We don't know if any time expired between the question and the answer. Was there a pause? Did these 12 disciples form a huddle and discuss the matter?
Spokesmen Peter: Lord, we have no reason to go anywhere else; you are eternal life to us. Furthermore, we know and are convinced that you are Christ the Son of God!
Jesus: I chose Twelve, but one of you is a devil.
So many had just left him. He looks at the 12 and knows that even one of them will do him in and betray him. Jesus must have been filled with great sadness. He would have to leave everything in the hands of God.
January 24, 2002Peter spoke with certitude. His emotions were running high. He knew without a shadow of doubt that this was the Christ, the holy one of God. What a wonderful moment in Peter's life, how pleased he sounds as he makes this faith statement.
Jesus responded to Peter's words with a "down in the valley" statement of fact. The reality is that I'm looking at 12 yet one of you will not be true but will turn against me and betray me. I'm glad Jesus stopped at that because he could have gone on to discourage all the others by telling them that they would all fall away on that future fateful night. Even Peter who today was so confident, would on that night deny he ever knew Jesus. Jesus was balancing Peter's faith affirmation with Judas' desire to betray.
June 25, 1983Jesus instigated conflict frequently, it seems on purpose, as though he enjoyed living on the cutting edge. In these final verses of John 6, he seemed to be stirring up hostility among his followers, threatening their egos, questioning their loyalties and sense of value as disciples, and making them want to defend themselves.
Peter, the spokesman for the Twelve, had the right words and their decision to stay with Jesus showed they were all planning to live by those words.
Where else? They knew of nothing better. This was it. If Jesus failed them their lives were wasted. They were gambling on Jesus, which is what we do too. Hannah Hurnard in her book, Hind's Feet, put the same thought in the mind of her main character-- even if Shepherd were deceiving her, she still wanted to follow him. That's the way one must follow because there are no certainties, no guarantees. Being a Christian is gambling on the truth of Jesus. Deciding that even if Christianity is not authentic, you still want to follow Jesus. It means you won't be angry and devastated if the whole thing turns out to be a hoax. You haven't lost a thing, but have been enriched regardless.
June 23, 1983Are you also wanting to leave me? Such a sad verse--for Jesus and for everyone concerned. And the Twelve--were they the Twelve because they stayed with Jesus when everyone else left him? Some of them Jesus called specifically--Andrew, Peter, James, John, Matthew, Philip and maybe Nathanael Bartholomew. But the others, did they follow on their own volition and stay with Jesus throughout this incident? Not specifically asked, but choosing to stay?
Maybe Jesus had too many disciples so he provoked some into leaving! And tested the Twelve by asking them if they also wanted to leave him. It's easy to do what everyone else is doing; in this case, leaving.
June 24, 1983Where would we go? Some of them had already been with John the Baptist (now beheaded), and there was no one else on the scene. We're staying with you, Jesus, because there is no one greater that we know of. You speak words of eternal life.
The Gospel writer, John, used that phrase constantly--eternal life. Some days I think I know what it means. Other times it remains a mystery to me. Does everybody understand what eternal life means? Is it a simple concept? Or complex? Does no one really understand it?
Was Jesus wanting everyone to go away for awhile so he could get away from it all? Tomorrow will be another day. But right now I need to be renewed and refreshed and all you do is drain me more. Please let me be alone with my Father.
May 13, 2011What is the difference between the many and the few? We learned this week the difference between the many who didn't make it and the few who became Navy Seals is that the Seals never quit. Ditto for the twelve disciples of Jesus.
June 27, 1983John brought up the subject of the betrayer early in his gospel. Jesus called Judas a devil. Was Jesus extremely tired and therefore down on himself because he choose one with the devil in his heart? But the Bible doesn't reflect this as the fault of Jesus or a flaw in his work. Rather the Bible states it was necessary to have a betrayer among the Twelve. Choosing Judas was a part of God's plan, not a matter of making a wrong selection.
As early as John 6:71, Judas was thinking about betraying Jesus. 7:1 says the Jews were planning to take Jesus' life. Were the disciples aware of the animosity at the time or was this hindsight read back into the situation? Traveling under threat of death to their leader would mean much uncertainty surrounded them.
Judas, son of Simon, were you an evil man? The Bible says someone had to do it but woe to the one who did! Were you predestined? Did you have a choice? Was life unfair to you?
Here he was, walking daily with Jesus, yet thinking about betrayal. In some ways, many of us share your guilt. Treachery in our relationships is not uncommon. Judas sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, the price of a common slave. We do no better when we betray our faith in Jesus in exchange for a cheap thrill. As in a parable Jesus told, the only real security for the prodigal was with the Father. But how distracted we can be by short-term pleasures.