Hope for Living: Sometimes what Jesus asks is hard


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“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.”

… On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!”

… From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” … Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve?”

— John 6

By this time in Scripture, Jesus had chosen twelve of his followers to become his apostles. They and many more people had come to believe in him as the Savior of the world. They had experienced his power to heal. They were enthralled by His authoritative teaching. They saw him as the hope and future of Israel.

Why would so many of these disciples now turn back and no longer follow him?

Why is it that so many who start out as Christians are eventually nowhere to be seen?

Sometimes what Jesus says to us is just too much for our minds to comprehend. There are moments when Jesus says things that are beyond us. For Jewish persons, eating flesh and drinking blood was as offensive as being told to go live naked among the Gentiles. It’s like hearing a foreign language.

It’s like when I mistakenly registered for a calculus class in high school without having taken the prerequisites. I was unprepared for that level of thinking. I was lost for that entire semester and earned my lowest grade ever. I didn’t have a choice then to “turn away and stop following,” but if I had, I would have.

It’s time to expand my thinking.

Often what Jesus says to us is just too close to our hearts. This happens when we are offended by what He calls them to do. Our routines are upset. Our comforts are threatened. Our pride or status is challenged.

Jesus calls for more from us and we draw the line. We don’t forgive. We don’t let go of something urgent so we can do what truly matters. We don’t trust that the new and different way might just be what brings the breakthrough we need.

It’s time to humble my heart.

Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”

Simon Peter answered for all of them (and us): “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Maybe you come to this moment wishing that you had a deeper understanding of what Jesus is doing and wanting to be more wholehearted about it.

The good news is that Christ keeps meeting us right where we are and says, “Did I not choose you?”

Russel Jarvis has lived in Hancock County since 1989 and has served as the lead chaplain at Hancock Regional Hospital since August 2003. This weekly column is written by local clergy members. Send comments to [email protected].