Today we are looking at John chapter six. In this chapter we see a vast difference in the way that Jesus presented the Word and made disciples than in today’s climate. In the feeding of the five-thousand Jesus became famous and desired by many. We see in the text itself that Jesus slipped away before the people “forced Him to become king.” Finally someone with whom the masses could relate! The thought of that day is not much different than that of today in regards to the perfect Messiah. There is someone who can meet all of my needs. One could just sit down, soak in the teaching of a passionate entertaining speaker, enjoy the buzz of excitement of the people around them and then have that same leader feed them and take care of their physical needs. What could possibly be wrong with this scenario one may think.
The perfect pastor was in view here. The one who expects little, gives much and rewards the behavior. The people were looking for a savior indeed; but a savior of their material wants (including a really entertaining show). The Jews were awaiting the conquering Messiah to free them from their Roman bondage and to bring pride back to Israel. Most had no idea that this was not the intention of the man called Jesus from Nazareth. The ones surrounding Him had no idea of their deep spiritual need. These people were spiritually dead without hope of eternal life but their concern was focused on a meal ticket.
People were willing, if not eager to follow a man that would meet their material wants and needs. But when Jesus mentioned something that they were uncomfortable with; the fickle crowd eroded away quickly. Jesus was speaking (as he mentions toward the end of this chapter) of spiritual things when he told them to eat His flesh and drink His blood. Jesus simply gave them this illustration without a response and the crowd magically melted away. We, still today, see it often in church life. People are fine to attend a group of people who are buzzing with excitement, who sing just the right music and speak words that agree with their particular way of thinking. Amazingly, when confronted with the need to repent and a true call to discipleship, interest quickly fades. When the Words of Jesus actually confront our sin, our lifestyles and our comfort the “good feeling” is gone. Basically what is being said, although without words, is “I will allow you to be my leader and savior just so long as I agree with all that you say.” Current leadership and pastors so often will allow about anything (and every sort of sin) to infiltrate their congregations. Heaven forbid if we offend someone! If we offend them they may leave. Friends, Jesus Himself said in Luke 9:23 “If any man will follow after me he must first deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me.” The denying of ones self is the most crucial step in the life of the true believer. Complete abandonment of our own wills is the only thing that allows us to call Him Lord. The word lord means master. This is why Jesus will later say to those around Him: Why do you call Me Lord yet you will not do what I tell you to do. If someone is offended at the Word of God, as we see in this passage, they should be urged to leave, not begged to stay! Jesus was a very offensive person, if not, they wouldn’t have been searching for ways to kill Him.
We all need to look at ourselves and see whether He is our Lord, or our entertainer. Do we chose what we want to hear and ignore the rest? Or do we hand over Lordship and follow even the hard things. I am amazed as I talk with other pastors who, much like myself, are hard pressed to find people who are willing to do the smallest of things in order to work together at furthering the Gospel. The entire membership, if asked, have placed Christ as “Lord” of their life; yet, for most, if something doesn’t directly meet their personal needs or interests they are unwilling to put any time or effort into them. We, in today’s culture, have succumbed to the Gospel of “ME” instead of the Gospel of “HE.” Feed ME, entertain ME, meet MY needs, sing MY music. In what way is this “denying ourselves?”
The opposite of this group is the group, much like Peter, who are, in fact, polar opposite. Peter did not understand what Jesus was saying, just as the crowd did not understand. But there is a vast contrast in his response and the crowds response to Jesus. Since God had called Peter and Peter had given Lordship over to Christ he responded to Jesus’ question of “Will you go also” with the response: where would I go? You have the words of life. Jesus was Lord over Peter’s life regardless of Peter’s understanding.
We spend a lot of time and energy today in our churches appeasing the unregenerated crowd of people. Jesus didn’t plan a potluck to bring them back, He let them go and focused on the ones who had given Lordship over to Him and His Father.
As we read and study today, I hope that each of us will look at these two groups and their focus. We all are either in one group or the other in the presence of Jesus. Do we follow the Gospel of “ME” or the gospel of “HE?”
See you tomorrow morning : )