What’s the shelf life of a disciple of Jesus? Are you set up to stay fresh and useful to Jesus for life or will you become stale, or sour before the end? The first thing that it depends on is whether we are following the real King Jesus. If we run after Jesus with a wish list of requests then we will eventually be disappointed. Not that Jesus doesn’t care for our needs and bless us with specific answers out of His love for us. He often does those things. But the real King Jesus sets His own agenda. If we fail to bow to that agenda then eventually it will clash with our own and we will reach a crossroads in our journey with Jesus.
The second thing that determines the endurance of a disciple of Jesus is how we respond to difficult things that He says. Jesus lost many followers in Galilee because He spoke a few puzzling words.
I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. . . . Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” . . . As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. (John 6:51-53, 60, 66)
Put yourself in the shoes of the Jewish multitude. When Jesus likened Himself to living bread it was tolerable. However, suggesting they should eat His flesh was repulsive; the idea of drinking His blood was offensive and broke their law. Torah expressly forbade putting blood on the menu. A few more cryptic words was all it took for many in the wider group of Jesus’ disciples to stop following.
Had Jesus spoken too soon about His death and departure?1 Surely it would have been better to wait until they made sense. But that is not Jesus’ way. It is not unusual for Jesus to speak crazy sounding things to His followers. Always they line up with Scripture but often they conflict with our common sense and sound risky, to say the least. Yet learning to discern the voice of the Master is central to discipleship. Responding to His call is the essence of faith.
So get used to it. If you want to follow Jesus all the way to the end you must expect occasions when Jesus fails to explain Himself. There will be times when He seems silent, periods of puzzlement about things He has said. When Jesus prompts us to speak a specific personal word to a stranger there will usually be a gap between our obedience and the fruit of another life being touched—a gap in which all we can do is scratch our heads and gulp down our anxiety.
The goal of Bible Maturity is to promote spiritual growth and faith in God. Please share these short Bible devotions with your friends and family and pray for revival.
- His words in verse 62 about His ascension also upset them. [↩]