John 6:59-71 The church that teaches members to walk intimately with Christ purifies itself continuously
John 6:59-71 The church that teaches members to walk intimately with Christ purifies itself continuously
59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. 60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? 62 What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and 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 it was that would betray Him. 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” 66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. 69 We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?” 71 Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him.
The people, having heard Jesus’s teachings rejected Him by grumbling loudly. Jesus, in teaching about His manner of life and in commanding them to walk with Him has alienated the crowd. Subsequently, many of His disciples withdrew from following Him. Those who withdrew were not true disciples and they were looking for opportunities to betray Jesus for their benefit. Many love the gifts of eternal life, but will not emulate the way Jesus lives. Hence, the Father has cut off their access to Christ, the source of eternal life. Today’s devotion teaches: The church that teaches members to walk intimately with Christ purifies itself continuously.
Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?”
“These things” refers to the sermons that Jesus gave on the bread of life: It is only by eating Jesus’s flesh and drinking His blood can men live the eternal life (see John 6:41-58). The metaphor: “he who eats My flesh and drinks My blood” pertains to emulating Him in the way He lives. Indeed, Jesus’s teachings and His exemplary lifestyle fly in the face of everything they know about life. For it is only human to love oneself and place one’s interest above others. The people have considered Jesus’s teachings as untenable and foolish. For they were invested in the prospects of blessing without having to change their ways.
The people’s response, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” reveals their true intent. After hearing the people’s grumbling, Jesus said, “Does this cause you to stumble?…” What He meant is, “Does this cause you to change your mind, to doubt and to stop following me?” From the people’s reactions, Jesus knew who belong to Him and who would leave Him or betray Him.
What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?
In the face of widespread opposition Jesus prophesied of His eventual vindication. Jesus’s ascension to God’s right hand justifies Him and all that He stood for. Jesus said this for the benefit of the hearers so that when He ascends to the Father, they might take heed of all that He said.
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
The people’s reactions stamp from their fleshly and evil inclinations. Hence, they instinctively repulse the things of the Spirit, the very things that give life. The Spirit and the flesh are likened to oil and water; they do not mix. While the Spirit is the conduit of divine wisdom, righteousness and power, the flesh is the conduit for all kinds of fears, anxieties, and misjudgments. When a person hears the word and opens his heart to believe and obey, the Spirit imparts eternal life. Indeed, a person who possesses eternal life manifests divine wisdom, righteousness and authority in all that he does.
And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”
At Jesus’s words, many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. Jesus spoke with the intent to separate Himself from the false disciples. For Jesus had no intention to impart eternal life to them. Indeed, one who is set on the flesh will be cut off from Christ. However, there are those who are accustomed to manipulation, who suppress their fleshly inclinations long enough to taste the fruit of eternal life. Such put up an appearance of righteousness while inwardly they burn with carnal desires. For that reason, God scrutinises every person’s heart granting or depriving him access to Christ, the source of eternal life. For wicked men must never eat of the fruit of eternal life: divine wisdom, righteousness and authority.
In the account of Genesis, because man’s heart was continually evil, God blocked off all access to the tree of life by stationing a cherubim with a flaming sword (see Genesis 3:24). Acts 8 records Simon the sorcerer who believed after hearing the preaching of Philip (see Act 8:13). But after seeing the Spirit being bestowed to the masses through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he sought the apostolic authority by offering money. Subsequently, Simon was rejected and excluded from the Spirit’s ministry because his intentions were evil.
Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.
Peter’s response revealed his unwavering conviction that no one can experience eternal life apart from laying down his life to follow Jesus. Indeed, the experience of eternal life is inexplicably connected to believing in Jesus’s words and obeying them. After hearing Peter’s response, Jesus took the opportunity to single out the one in their midst who was the devil’s agent. Simon Iscariot, even though he remained with Jesus, could not obtain eternal life because it was not granted him from the Father.
The church that teaches members to walk intimately with Christ purifies itself continuously.
The things that Jesus taught stumbled many and created mass desertion of disciples. In fact, these “disciples” who left are not seekers of Christ but seekers of blessing and power. For they were attracted by the miracles and the gifts of eternal life. But when they realised that they need to do “these things” which is to walk intimately with Him, they gave up and left. What are “these things” that Jesus taught? “These things” pertain to the values He stood for and the manner in which He lived.
We can be sure of one thing: false disciples will not endure teachings that promote intimacy with Christ; which is to listen and obey His word on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the modern church has reduced intimacy with God to a romantic experience. They try to make Christianity more appealing to the masses by romanticising the gospel. The world at large welcome a “Jesus” who forgives unconditionally, who blesses sinners (even impenitent ones) unreservedly, who works miracles instantly, and who removes all consequences of disobedience without asking questions. No wonder the church is never short of scandals because we are sending signals that attract hypocrites and betrayers.
Thus, Jesus preached “these things” so that He may purify the church of hypocrites, betrayers, adulterers and false disciples. Leaders of churches must ask themselves the question: what is the goal of the church? Or rather, how did Jesus build His church? He calls all to repentance and to walk intimately with Him. Unfortunately, many ministers are no different from businessmen. They are like managers that facilitate the running of programmes as opposed to serving as spiritual guides. They rarely received a word from God much less encounter Him in person. How can they teach their members intimacy with God when they feel trite and burned out most days.
The gift of eternal life is not the goal, but intimacy with Christ is
Many love the gifts of eternal life, but do not love His word much less obey it. Because they have made eternal life their goal, the Father has cut off their access to Christ. Many are left wondering why despite their weekly attendance in church services could not experience eternal life. For the most part, they are self-centred and their prayers revolve around concerns of personal wellbeing, career and money. They are apathetic about the needs of others or the Father’s business. But one who is intimate with Christ is concerned with the wellbeing of the community and the state of the nations. Most importantly, they are concerned if they have pleased God in all that they do.
One who walks intimately with Christ will inevitably experience eternal life and its abundance. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” – John 14:6. Indeed, no one can be accepted and blessed by the Father unless he walks intimately with Christ.
Church ministers did not help when most of what they preach about is theology and doctrine. They endeavour to prove how eternal life comes to one who is in agreement with what was written in the word. But faith is more than just logical understanding, it is aligning one’s spirit, desires and mindset to Christ. How does that translate into our daily living? Christ and His kingdom’s work must be the first thing we think about every morning… and the last thing before we go to bed. We must endeavour to have an unbroken conversation with Christ. Here, Christ makes known to us His perception of the world and what He intends to do about it. As we walk with Him intimately, Christ’s eternal life: His wisdom, righteousness and authority becomes more and more evident.
We must look to a heavenly vindication, not an earthly one.
The people, having heard Jesus’s teachings rejected Him by grumbling loudly. Jesus’s immediate reaction was not to get into an argument or to vindicate Himself by performing miraculous signs. But He spoke of a heavenly vindication that will silent all oppositions: His ascension to God’s right hand as Lord of all creation. It is vain to prove our point to an audience who is not concerned for the truth. But to the righteous, we speak the truth plainly without exaggeration. And the Spirit will vindicate us by bearing witness in their hearts.
If we have been living the truth and doing what is right, God will not allow the truth to be exchanged for a lie. But He will hasten our vindication. When we are wronged or maligned, the psalmist encourages us,
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
For evildoers will be cut off,
But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. – Psalm 37:5-9
Are you accustomed to seeing eternal life as an incentive to living a godly life? If that be the case, you have believed in a false gospel. Believers do not need any further incentive to love God and to fulfil His commandments. We love because Christ first loved us. Hence, our lives no longer belong to us, for we have been bought with a price (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Therefore, believers willingly present their bodies as a living sacrifice to serve Him (see Romans 12:1).
What is the goal of your Christian life? Many make plans to fulfil a set of obligations: to go for one mission trip in a year, to serve in a ministry and to read through the bible once. Nevertheless, these are tasks, not goals. The goal of the Christian is to walk more intimately with Christ and become more like Him in the way we think, love and overcome the powers of the darkness. Start by being unceasingly mindful of what Jesus is thinking. Seek His counsel when making decisions and follow His will daily.
Do you tend to want to prove and vindicate yourself? And you detest being wrongly accused. Learn to let go and let God. He can do a much better job vindicating you than you can for yourself. There is also no necessity to show the world what a good job you have done. For God Himself will reward you for your work.
Dear Lord, I desire to walk intimately with you. Cause my spirit, mind and heart to be aligned with your Spirit so that I may have an unbroken conversation with you. Help me to be concerned with your concerns for the kingdom. And vindicate me before my accusers. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.