Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It is Hard to Understand


“Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”– John 6:60

 Teachers have to be the most patient people in the world.  To explain a thing, then explain again, then grasp for new words and new angles to explain it again and again would pluck my last nerve right out of my body!  And yet, Teachers do this gladly, and do it daily.  Truly this is a Christian trait, as it was portrayed by Jesus in John 6.

Jesus had gathered quite a few followers.  His fame unfortunately, was not all due to His being the Son of God, but somewhat due to His being the David Copperfield of the day.  He turns water into wine, He makes the lame walk, gives sight to the blind, walks on water, raises the dead, feeds thousands with a few morsels and more! Every day there’s a new miracle, a new event that is beyond belief.  Because of that everyone wanted to be there to see what He would do next.  And even though Jesus explained it as God working through Him, they only wanted to see more miracles.

John 6:22 begins the story of how Jesus suddenly appears in Capernaum without having travelled by boat.  Poof! And He was there.  When the followers saw Him their conversation was that of a child begging a parent for a new toy!  Picture this as played out in a movie and you’ll see the child in these followers.

Followers: “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”

Jesus: This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

Followers: “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

Jesus: Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

Followers: (still thinking bread would fall from Heaven again) “Lord, give us this bread always.”

Jesus: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.  This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.  And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Followers: (grumbling among themselves) “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

Jesus: Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me UNLESS THE FATHER WHO SENT ME DRAWS HIM; and I will raise him up at the last day.  It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT BY GOD.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and LEARNED FROM THE FATHER comes to Me.  Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father.  Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are DEAD.  This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and NOT DIE.  I am the LIVING BREAD which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

Followers: “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?”

Jesus: Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”

Followers: “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”

Jesus: “Does this offend you?  What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?  It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe. Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me UNLESS IT BE GRANTED TO HIM BY MY FATHER.”

From that day forward, some of the followers turned back and didn’t follow Him anymore.

Have you ever tried to start reading a book in the middle?  It can be confusing and you can get the entire story turned around, the characters confused, and miss the entire plot!  That same feeling must have been what these followers felt that day.  They no doubt felt confusion, mistrust in what He had said, and some no doubt thought he was a lunatic offering to feed them His own body and blood! 

But God had not drawn them.  They had not “learned from the Father”.  God had not prepared the ground of their heart to understand so that they could believe.  These followers were not seeking a Savior, but a man who worked signs and wonders.  God in His wisdom decided it was not time to draw them. 

There may be people in your life that you want so badly to see God give the gift of salvation.  You beg for Him to draw them, to make the gospel clear to them, and to open their hearts to receive it.  Yet years may have gone by without their understanding of God’s plan.

Here in John 6 a large group of people were right in front of Jesus.  What an opportune time for God to give them understanding and draw them to Himself, as we would see it.  And yet God decided in His infinite wisdom that it was not time to draw them. 

If we truly believe that God is all knowing, we have to trust Him to know when it is the right time to draw them.  Pray without ceasing, keep teaching the Gospel, answer all the questions, but know that God will draw them at the RIGHT time.  Until then the message will be hard to understand, and there will be questions that may cause you to want to give up.  But Jesus never gave up trying to explain to them what was a “hard saying”.  We can’t give up either. 


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