Summary: WHen all others would leave... why do we stick with Jesus?
Why we stick with Jesus
† In the name of Jesus †
Grace, Peace and Mercy be yours, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ!
There was something about this man in the Marine Corps uniform, that the teachers, and staff, and students noticed. It was partially the way he walked, and talked with people, in his very quiet, assured, and friendly manner. The other recruiters made promises, and talked about how great their branch of the service was, and that theirs had opportunities that the other branches did not. Even though only given a brief two minutes, the other recruiters took far more than their allotted time.
Finally, the older marine sergeant rose, as the principal apologized and said there were only two minutes left to the assembly. The sergeant nodded, and went to the podium and for 60 long seconds, looked intently at the students. His eyes went two and fro Finally, without great volume, but with a sureness that everyone was listening, the old marine said,
“ I will not promise you anything except hardship. Hard living conditions, hard long days of work, and little reward. I want you to know this, that only two or three of you, will be strong enough, physically, mentally and emotionally, of being part of the Marine Family. I want to see those 2-3 boys at lunch.” No recruited saw such a response. There was more competition to talk to the old sergeant, than any college recruiter, any other military recruiter saw that career day.
I know some of you may have heard that story before, it has been in a sermon or two of mine. I use it again today, but with a twist. Because it illustrates the lives of those we read about in the Gospel, those who decided to follow Jesus, and those that did not, but walked away. Let me re-phrase the sergeant’s words a bit, to offer insight into the decisions made that day.
Following Jesus is not a “religion” of ease. There are, in reality, very few promises that make our lives now easier. We are not promised that the desires of our hearts are granted, that we live lives of comfort. Often, we have to struggle with Christ’s word, trying to understand that it is not our strength that makes us candidates to be in His family, but our weaknesses.
Are we weak enough, to receive that which the apostles were granted? Are we weak enough to believe God, and take Him at His promises?
They start with the message, not the messenger
They don’t “get” it
Offended, They walk away rather than with
They don’t believe, and so toss away (betray)
Today’s gospel passage concludes a passage where Jesus is teaching. As we looked at the passage last week, I cautioned us against judging the disciples too quickly. We have knowledge that they don’t, specifically, we know about the cross, the resurrection, and the ascension to heaven. For them, to hear that Jesus was going to give them His body to eat, and His blood to drink must have sounded a bit, strange. If not downright bizarre!
It is here, that they make the crucial mistake, for they consider the message on its own merits, rather than who is speaking the message. It confuses them, and they start complaining among themselves about the message. There are times that I love the irony of the ancient Greek language. The sound of the Greek word for complained is “gong, u sin”. And complaining, or sounding like a gong, they did, not to Jesus, but to each other. Rather than wait for Jesus to explain, they started thinking they knew more than God. That is why I love the term “gong, u sin!” Rather than ask Jesus, as they had before, or wait for the explanation, as He also did often, they started complaining, they start sounding like a bunch of gongs. Simply put, they don’t “get it”.
Jesus is not unaware of this, scripture tells us, for he knows from the beginning, literally from before the ages, who believed, had faith in Him, and who did not have that faith. And so He once again raises the stakes, and notes that there are those who do not trust Him, who do not have faith, who do not believe in His words. Listen to His words,
John 6:63-64 (NKJV) 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him.
Rather than consider the one giving the message, they took great offense at the message. Or perhaps the offense that they took was that they couldn’t comprehend that message? It is not hard to do, remember when you were kids, or teens, and your parents said, “you will understand when you are older”? What was your reaction? But this great truth, that we receive life through Christ’s sacrifice, through His body being given, and his blood being spilt for us at the cross, is lost to them. They go from complaining, to no longer trusting Jesus, to outright betraying Him. Another great word picture there – they literally tossed Him aside, as if he had no significance! As if walking with God is not a thing to be valued, and even cherished, they toss it away, because they don’t understand clearly what he teaches them.