After listening to Jesus explain why He is the “bread of life,” those who the day before had been fed with the five loaves and two fish, decided they would withdraw and no longer walk with Him (John 6:66). Why this reaction?
Those who “walked away” considered His words “harsh” and “offensive.” The explanation was not what they had anticipated. It was unacceptable, inexcusable and intolerable.
As if to add fuel to the fire, Jesus poses another question, possibly summarizing His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. What would they do or believe if they were to see the “Son of Man ascending where He was before?” The congregational session concludes by Jesus telling them the words He has spoken will provide life for them.
With the crowd gone, Jesus turns to the Twelve and asks, “What about you?” Peter replies (possibly for the group), “You have words of eternal life and we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68, 69). Jesus then says that He has chosen them, but one of them “is a devil” (John 6:70). The gospel writer says Jesus was referring to “Judas the son of Simon Iscariot” who would one day betray Jesus.
The question for us to consider is why the different reactions to the words of Jesus? Why would some think they were “harsh” and “offensive” while others were willing to accept them and put their confidence in them?
Some would say it was because of the action of God upon the hearts of people. They would say that the disciples who withdrew were not “drawn by God to Jesus” while the Twelve were. While this may sound reasonable and very comforting because one has believed the message, what about those who did not believe the message? Would not the logical conclusion be that God did not draw them to Jesus, therefore making God responsible for their unbelief? If not, why not?
On the other hand, what if God does not want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9)? What if He draws people to Jesus through the teachings of Jesus (John 6:45)? Then would we not logically conclude that the hearer is responsible for their own reaction to the words of Jesus? People make their own choices.
Based upon the totality of Scripture and not this one passage, God has made provisions for all mankind to hear the message and be with Him for eternity. It is up to each individual to react positively to the message of Jesus.
Upon hearing the message of Jesus, let’s all accept it and practice it so we will be living God’s way.
Carlton G. McPeak is an evangelist working in the Florida Gateway region. All Scriptural quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Holman Bible Publishers, unless otherwise stated. He may be contacted at email@example.com.