"On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)" (John 6:60-71)
Many of those who followed Jesus had reached a crisis of belief. They were initially drawn in by curiosity. There was an interesting man in town. Friendly, gentle and he had a way with words. He was the kind of person everyone wanted to meet and be around.
And then he began to do the miraculous - Feeding the 5000, healing incurable disease, turning water into wine. This is not an average man. There is more to Jesus than meets the eye.
His popularity grew to such an extent that large crowds would gather to hear Him teach. And here again, He captivated their attention. He told stories with intent and His message made you stop and think.
And then it got hard! His message became more direct and His claims more difficult to accept. He said, “I came from heaven as God’s provision for your deepest spiritual needs. If you believe in Me, you will never die.”
He was no longer the new friendly face in town who had a way with words. He was not just a miracle worker.
It was becoming increasingly clear that Jesus was asking people to move from shallow interest into to deep faith. If people were going to follow him now, they would need to abandon their own conclusions to the meaning of life and the source of peace and begin instead to trust in that which was being offered by Jesus.
It was a crisis of belief. They stood and waited. Will they follow him or will they walk away?
Many walked away. The faith required to follow Jesus was too much. It cost them something they were unwilling to relinquish. Namely, they could not bring themselves to trust in Jesus more than they trusted in themselves.
The large crowd now dwindled to a few.
And yet Jesus was not sad in this moment. Sadness comes from an unexpected tragedy and there was nothing that happened that Jesus didn’t already know was coming. People are predictable. We all want to be on the “winning team”, we like the latest fad. If a crowd gathers, we want to know what is happening…until it requires something from us.
For this reason, we all have our own crisis of belief. And Peter asks the question we all face in this moment. “Jesus, where would we go?”
We all have the same choice. We can choose to accept the claim of Jesus as the One who came from heaven to give us eternal life – OR – we can walk away and find the answer to our deepest needs through someone or something else. Either way, it is a step of faith – Faith in the promises of God or faith in your own ability to find answers apart from God.
What will you choose in your own crisis of belief?