After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.
In this passage, I’m astounded and even perplexed by the actions of Jesus.
He begins by teaching that he is the bread of life and that whoever comes to him will never be hungry or thirsty. Great stuff, right?
But as the people are figuring out who he is, he goes on to talk about how they need to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Naturally, his audience (and perhaps us) is in shock.
But the point of his teaching of that is not even for us to figure out what he means, but we are to observe that Jesus went out of his way just to offend his hearers. He offends their expectations, their ration of logic, their paradigms of appropriateness, and there is a jerk reaction of disgust and offense within their hearts at what he is saying.
He offends them in context to this commentary by John, “Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him. (6:64).
And so those who were offended at Jesus left him. And his disciples stayed.
It’s not that the disciples knew or understood completely what Jesus was talking about or why he was talking about. In asking whether the twelve would leave too, they, like little children reply, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” In other words, “We may not understand you, but all we have is You, God.”
And so the tactic of offense on God’s part is a matter of exploring the contents of believers’ hearts.
There is a conviction within the disciples’ hearts which serve as the threshold of whether our offense at who we think God is and our judgments about his actions will push us away from him or push us towards him.
Do you ever think that in the journey of life, that just like in this passage, God will go out of his way to offend your understanding of who he is?
I know a pastor who has suffered terribly from a brain malfunction which has crippled his ministry and his family permanently. And a friend who prayed earnestly for her mother to come to faith on her death bed only to hear no evidence of conversion despite her prayers. And a friend who has the visions and dreams that God has given them to be deferred.
What do you do with those things? The battle is not just being fruitful or being happy; the battle is whether we will be offended by God.
I wonder if we have what the disciples’ have within their hearts? I wonder if we will, like those who deserted Jesus, build their theologies based on what they thought God should’ve done and didn’t do, and end up walking away from Him? Or will we with child-like faith, and we unmoved spirits, and unfettered commitments say to God, no matter our circumstances, “Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life…”?
Without doubt, in the course of life, there will be small battles in which God will put us through to test and refine our affections for him. Offended-ness is God’s choice for sifting the fickle, and his choice for inviting his committed disciples into greater and deeper experience of who he is.
As Matthew 9 says, “Blessed is he who is not offended by me,” I pray that we would be blessed in trusting God nonetheless.