Summary: There is a time for the sheep and the goats to be divided. This happens when Jesus demands something of his followers.
Saints pr Aint's
Last Week, we covered the conclusion of Jesus’ Bread of Life Sermon delivered at the synagogue at Capernaum. In it, the Jews were offended first by Jesus’ claim to have come down from heaven (God). They thought they knew where He came from. They reminded Jesus that He was just the son or ordinary people, Joseph and Mary. How little did they know. Then the Jews were offended by his claim that all who would want eternal life would have to eat His flesh and drink His blood. The debate was heated, and it is apparent that the Jews had rejected both Him and His claim.
Exposition of the Text
This week we come to the next round of rejection. We remember in the beginning of the gospel where it is stated that “He came unto His own things, and His own people did not accept Him. In chapter 2, the Jews of Judea and Jerusalem rejected him, In chapter 5, the Pharisees rejected Him too. In the earlier parts of this chapter, the Zealots and the Jews from Galilee rejected Him. Now the pattern of rejection starts coming closer to home. In the passage this morning, it is Jesus’ “disciples” who start to reject Him. In fact, it seems that few more than the twelve would remain with Him by days end. Later on in the gospel, they too would reject Jesus, one by betraying Him, and the other eleven by forsaking Him on the night of His arrest. The only people who did not reject Jesus, strangely enough, were the hated Samaritans. But for the plan of the Gospel to work, and that all nations of the earth might have the opportunity to hear the gospel and be saved, it was necessary for the entire nation of Israel to reject Jesus. This is so that the playing field might be leveled. All who would enter into eternal life will enter by God’s grace and by God’s initiative, not ours.
In verse 60, Jesus’ disciples found Jesus’ teaching to be unacceptable. They said it was a hard saying. Some commentators and bible translations translate this as being heard to understand. However, it is better to see from the context that the problem wasn’t one of understanding Jesus’ words. They understood what He had said, but were grossly offended by it. These disciples were not the twelve but were the larger group of disciples who had been following Jesus around. They had seen His miracles, signs, and wonders. They had seen the dead raised, the sick healed, the demons cast out, and had heard His teaching. The problem was perhaps that they never were Jesus’ disciples in the true sense. They were self-made disciples. They had called themselves rather than the other way around. They wanted to be in control of the disciple relationship rather than Jesus. But a true disciple is on who wants to be like His master and is obedient to the teaching of the master. If they were truly Jesus’ disciples, they would have continued with Jesus. When they saw that they could not make Jesus fit their expectations for the Messiah, they were offended and left.
Jesus knew that they were offended, and that they were about to desert Him. Jesus is especially in the Gospel of John shown to be in complete control of the situation. As God, the Son, He does not need anyone to tell Him about what was going on. And He could read their very heart and thoughts. He also knows that these so-called disciples are not His disciples at all. Jesus does not beg them to stay, but lets them go. When it is said that they departed and no longer walked with Him, it is apostasy which they were committing. This was one of the worst sins a Jew could commit. Yet this is exactly what they were doing, whether they knew it or not. They were not just leaving a Rabbi or some teacher. It isn’t like leaving one church and joining another, or even changing denominations as far too many Americans are prone to do for every little offense. They were walking out on God. They were rejecting the covenant which The Father wanted to make with them. Jesus had clearly taught them that to reject the Son was to reject the Father. They were clearly warned, and they clearly chose to desert Him. Whether they ever came back, we can’t be sure. But it is possible that after the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension that some may have come back. After all, Jesus took His disciples who had denied Him and fled back. And His own brothers who showed their rejection of Him in the next chapter came to believe later. But what is abundantly clear is this. Jesus does not want disciples setting the terms of service. The true disciple follows the Master.