John 6:56-69Jesus said, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever." He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.
When many of his disciples heard it, they said, "This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?" But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, "Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father."
Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
Will I Stay or Will I Go
This passage from John is one of the most thought provoking passages to me. Some of his followers, actually many of Jesus followers leave. This talk about eating flesh and drinking blood is just too esoteric for them. The imagery is too graphic and they decide to go. What may have really drawn them in the first place? Jesus was today’s equivalent of a rock star or a charismatic politician.
esus performed miracles. He turned water into wine. He even raised the dead. People wanted to see these miracles with their own eyes so they followed him around. In addition to performing miracles, Jesus offered them salvation. They could spend an eternity in heaven. They could spend an eternity with no wars, no disease and be free of struggle. Who could not want that?
Then came the catch. If you wanted this salvation, you had to change a few things. You had to put God first in your life. That meant God would come before family and friends. God would have to come before all of their possessions. At the same time they would have to show and feel love for all of God's creation.
The gospel reading implies that the turning point for those followers two thousand years ago was the metaphor of eating his flesh and drinking his blood but I am thinking otherwise. I think many people who left Jesus were only there for the superficial thrill of the rock star and his miracles. They had not bought into the teachings. They were not prepared to go the distance.
The twelve disciples were ready. Peter was clear when he said, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.” What are the words of eternal life and what does it look like? Give me some examples of what it looks like? I would like to make this a little harder. I want some concrete examples of what you have done that is an example of putting your Christianity into practice.
I know that most of you are uncomfortable with talking about your accomplishments but I have a motive in asking this. I want you to be introspective and reflect on the ways you are practicing your Christianity. It is not bragging as much as it is testifying to putting your faith into practice.
Jesus told his followers to dedicate themselves to God and show that dedication by the way they lived their lives. He requires the dedication from all of us today. In the Book of Common Prayer there is a prayer of self dedication I would like to read to you.
Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you; and then use us, we pray according to your will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.