Summary: how Christ asked questions to separate the wheat from the chaff and give his disciples an opportunity to reevaluate their dedication to Christ
September 14, 2003 John 6:60-69
After David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, God confronted David through the prophet Nathan. Nathan said to David, because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.” (2 Sa 12:14) Shortly thereafter the child came down with an illness. For seven days David refused to eat any food. He lay on the floor every night, desperately pleading with God to spare the child’s life. Finally, the child died. The servants were nervously whispering to each other, not wanting to tell David what had happened, thinking he might kill himself or something. 2 Samuel then goes on to say that David noticed that his servants were whispering among themselves and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked. (12:19) When David noticed something was wrong, he could have avoided the situation and pretended nothing was wrong. He could have kept his head in the sand - but he went ahead and asked the crucial question - “is the child dead?” The servants didn’t beat around the bush. They plainly said, “yes, he is dead.”
When the military adopted the policy, “don’t ask, don’t tell” for the military, they were in effect choosing to keep their heads in the sand. This is the approach that some people take toward life - “don’t ask, don’t tell.” A young man has his eye on a girl from his class, but he is too afraid to ever pop the question, “will you go out with me?” A parent may suspect that his teenage son is on drugs, but it’s much easier just to keep quiet and not ask. Sometimes life is just much easier that way - less stressful and less waves if we don’t ask tough questions.
Jesus never backed away from a confrontation or asking the tough questions. He wasn’t afraid of how someone would answer. As a matter of fact, He knew how they would answer, but he asked the questions anyway. Today we see Jesus once again ask two crucial questions - ones that left no room for a middle ground. With these questions he was drawing a line in the sand and saying, “what are you going to do?”
The Crucial Questions of Christ
I. Does this offend you?
Let’s start out with a little background on this text. Just prior to today’s reading, Jesus had fed 5,000 people. With this taste of food, these “disciples” followed Jesus across the Sea of Galilee for more. It was at this time that Jesus told those following Him several profound things about Himself. Jesus basically said, I am the bread of God who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. With these words, Jesus was saying that He came straight from heaven. If this wasn’t profound enough, Jesus then went on to say, If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (Jn 6:51) Jesus also claimed that the eternity of man’s soul depended on EATING HIM.
So how did the Jews respond? At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” (Jn 6:41) They first of all grumbled because Jesus said He was from heaven, when they knew his parents - Mary and Joseph. Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” But instead of backing down, Jesus said, I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. (Jn 6:53-55) You need to remember that drinking blood was specifically forbidden by God in the Old Testament laws. (Deuteronomy 12) The very concept of eating the actual flesh and blood of a man was even more offensive. It wasn’t sitting well at all.
Think about this for a moment. Jesus could have very easily just explained that what He actually saying that he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (vs. 35) He could have changed the topic and talked about something more acceptable - that they could agree on. But instead Jesus said, This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it? Does this offend you? He was in effect saying, “I know this is hard to swallow that I am the bread of life. I know it offends you, and I also know WHY it offends you!” He said, The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. . . . This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” The reason they were offended is because they were nothing but sinful and helpless human beings - run by their reason and their opinions instead of the Word of God. But He didn’t worry about it or run away from it. Instead of being afraid of offending them, He confronted them about it by asking the crucial questions - “can you accept it? Does this offend you?” In effect Jesus was saying, “if you don’t like it, then leave.”