By Tyson Thorne

July 10, 2019

John 20 Large

At the beginning of chapter six we are on a figurative mountain peak. The people are on a spiritual high. Jesus was in rare form while preaching throughout the day, then had fun with them and the disciples by multiplying three loaves and fish to feed thousands. The people ate until they were full, a rare occasion indeed, and everyone felt closer to the Messiah. Little did they know that their next few steps with Jesus would take them into the valley. The trip was so quick no one saw the darkness closing in, the space between them shrinking and tempers shortening.

After the miracle meal Jesus sent the disciples across the lake, then met them half way there by walking out to them on the water. The disciples were amazed, their faith and confidence in Jesus elevated. But when the people came back to hear more about the Kingdom and found Jesus gone, they were naturally upset. They went to Capernaum in search of the Savior and found him. When they confronted him, he told them the truth about why they were following him in the first place. The truth is never fun to hear. But Jesus went further, he told them about what it means to follow God. The teaching was difficult to understand, and not the free ride many expected. The people grew angry and many walked away. Regular followers departed. The number who left in dismay was noticeable, and the disciples appeared discouraged. So Jesus called a team meeting, which is where we pick up the story in verse 66.

Jesus got right to the point, asking the 12, "You don’t want to go away too, do you?" I can imagine an awkward pause here, but Peter doesn't allow for it jumping in with an immediate response. I'll give him this, his reply was at least logical. "You are the Holy one of God, you alone hold the key to eternal life, why would we go anywhere else?" Jesus had to be pleased, but then he threw i few dampening words. He explained that he first chose them, and this is their opportunity to choose him in return. And they all did, to a man, even though one of them was under the sway of Satan.

What are we to learn from this brief exchange?

For starters, not everyone who comes to Jesus will become a lasting follower. The text literally states that "many of his disciples went back to what lay behind." They counted the cost of following jesus and found it would be too disruptive to their current way of life. That is a reality many have to wrestle with. The fact is, however, that if they believed what Peter believed, there would be no choice at all; of course they would stay the course with Jesus.

Second, Peter offers good advice for those who wish to walk with Jesus to the end. If we are going to successfully follow the Messiah into the next life we need to remind ourselves of who he is. This is the purpose of worship, and why I argue we ought to engage in this practice more than on Sunday mornings at church. We follow the Holy one of God, the one — the only one — who offers eternal life. While our salvation is not based on works, faith requires practice and growth.

Third, while some will follow Jesus completely and others will turn away, we can epect some among us to be in league with the Devil. This is a difficult truth to accept. We expect everyone at our church to be sincere in following Jesus, but not everyone is. Some are there to turn followers away or to victimize believers and, in some cases, to cause division and death to the congregation. We must beware of these wolves in sheep clothing.

Finally, as followers of Christ we will have those mountain top experiences with God, but we will also follow him into the valleys of doubt and betrayal. One's life doesn't come up roses because they are now a child of God. When in those lowly places we ought to emulate Peter, and remember the mountain tops and what we learned from them.

This short passage ends section three of John, The Controversy Surrounding the Messiah and leads us into the next.

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