Summary: There comes a time to make commitments -- are you ready to make one?
In the Old Testament book of Proverbs, in chapter 30, there is a wonderful verse.
The writer says in verse 18, "There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a woman.”
Those are indeed amazing things.
I watch the Discovery Channel. I know all about how the snake is able to slither across a solid rock. But I’ve got to tell you. I don’t REALLY understand it.
I know something about aerodynamics, and thermals and wingspans, but when I see an eagle or hawk soaring in the sky, I’m amazed. I don’t REALLY understand it.
I don’t understand women.
Which is not a sexist statement, because I don’t understand men.
And I don’t understand children.
I don’t understand the IRS.
I don’t understand Osama bin Laden.
Our New Testament Lesson today says the people listen to Christ. They say, “this is a hard saying. Who can accept it?”
I like that phrase, “this is a hard saying.”
When I read the newspaper, I often want to say, “This is a hard saying.”
When I look at the IRS tax instruction book, I want to say, “this is a bunch of hard sayings.”
And when people listen to Jesus, sometimes he is hard to understand.
He’s on one level, but we’re down here on another level.
This is especially true of John’s Gospel.
The woman at the well encounters Jesus and the Lord says, “I come to give living water.”
The woman doesn’t understand. “Oh really, where’s your bucket? Where’s this water?”
She’s on one level, Jesus is on another. She doesn’t understand.
Or Nicodemus. Jesus tells him, “You must be born again.”
“Oh really. And just how am I going to get back into my mother’s womb and do that?”
He’s on one level, Jesus is on another. He doesn’t understand.
And now we come to this morning’s text.
Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.” He talks about the importance of the Sacrament. “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.”
Jesus talks about eternal life.
He talks about the resurrection of the dead.
He talks about how he and God the Father are one.
And the people understand!
I think it might be for the first time this happens in the Gospel of John.
Jesus is on one level. The people are on the same level.
They might not be able to understand the IRS Tax Code, or Osama bin Ladin, or teenagers – but they understand the theology Jesus is presenting here.
Jesus and God the Father are one.
Jesus comes to offer eternal life.
The problem is not that they don’t understand. They do understand. (1)
And they come to an important decision.
They decide not to follow Jesus.
It is an amazing thing, but Jesus is not for everyone.
In fact, thousands of people desert him. At the beginning of John chapter 6, Jesus has a congregation of over 5,000. At the end of this chapter, all but a handful have deserted him.
If I served a church of over 5,000 people, and later the week, all I had left were 12 – the presbytery and the session of elders would have a few words to say to me.
In fact, I think they would be words that I would be able call – “hard sayings.”
And Jesus is hurt. You can almost hear the pain in his voice when everyone leaves him and he turns to Peter and asks, “Will you leave me too?”
But Jesus remains steadfast.
He doesn’t adjust his teaching in order to gain his followers back.
He doesn’t beg them to come back to him.
He doesn’t say, “well, you don’t have to accept the notion that God the Father and I are one – just accept some of my teachings, like the teachings about love your neighbor.”
No – Jesus wants people to decide.
Follow me or not.
No half way.
This is a difficulty with Christianity. It demands an act of surrender to Christ. It demands an acceptance of Him as the final authority. It demands a moral standard of the highest level. The disciples were well aware that Jesus had claimed to be the very life and mind of God come to earth.
But you have to decide to accept this.
You have to accept that Jesus is God.
And that is a hard saying to accept.
It’s easy to say, “Well, you know, I believe Jesus was a good man. I believe he was a good teacher.” And it’s easy to stop there.