The Journal of Biblical Accuracy

Following the Lord or going away? (PDF) PDF version

Following the Lord or going away?

It was a full of action day. Jesus had just fed thousands, using only five loaves and two fishes. After this miracle, in John 6:15 we read:

John 6:15
"Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone."

They wanted to make Him king! In verse 26 however, the Lord reveals their motives:

"Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled."

They didn’t seek Him for the miracles but because they ate and were filled. Many people follow the Lord for the same reason, because "they ate and were filled". However, once the …. loaves disappear, once "tribulation or persecution arises for the Word’s sake, immediately they stable" (Mark 4:16-17). Yes, they are ready to make him king, but they don’t have root in the faith, as - we will see it later - those folks of John 6 didn’t have either. Of course, the Lord gives abundant blessings in every field of life. Yet, there would also be periods of trial of the faith, of "persecution or tribulation for the Word". Those who have faith will stay while those who are only temporal, that just ate the loaves and seek Him for the loaves, will go away.

So they would take Him and make Him a king. Somebody may ask, "that would be great. Why Jesus lost this opportunity? He would be declared exactly what He truly was." So while the multitude was full and joyful, the Lord left and went to the mountain "BY HIMSELF ALONE". He left from the noise and the vain expectations of these people and went to the mountain ALONE.

"when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus."

The multitude being full was running to find Jesus. Like in election where some voters are running behind the politicians that promise more - more loaves, more prosperity - so did they. They were rushing behind the Lord because they were filled. "What miracles are you telling me? What teachings? I follow you because you can increase my welfare. You can give me more things, better things, bigger things." They were seeking him everywhere. When however they found him, He reproved them. It is not the perishable you should put your attention on but the non-perishable, the eternal life (John 6:27). And there a conversation starts:

John 6:28-34
"Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent." Therefore they said to Him, "What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? "Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat." Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. "For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always."

Then the Lord explains to them that HE is the bread of life and that it is the Father’s will "of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day", He said.

"The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven." And they said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, I have come down from heaven?"

and in verse 52
"The Jews therefore quarrelled among themselves, saying, "How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?"

From following him in multitudes, once they heard His Word, the same people who had eaten from His hands the previous day, the same people who had taken the ship seeking him, and who wanted to make him king, "complained about Him". When somebody follows the Lord for wrong reasons, he may call Him Lord and King but when the things do not turn up as he desires, then the Lord becomes "this". Jesus obviously was not fitting to what they thought. Thus, instead of changing their view, they left. Verse 60 tells us:

"Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can hear it?"

The complain did not pass unnoticed from the Lord, who explained:

"Does this offend you? "What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. "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."

Is it possible that though they had seen so many miracles they didn’t believe? As it seems, it is. The whatever faith they had was like the one of the second category of the parable of the sower ("they believe for a little and in time of temptation they fall away" (Luke 8:13). "How is it possible Jesus to say such hard things?" they murmured. "Come on Jesus, tell something lighter that the multitudes can accept." And verse 66 tells us:

"From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more."

It was not one or two the disciples that did this. As the Word says many chose to go back and not follow Him any longer. The multitudes leave therefore, and together many of the disciples. However the Lord does not run behind them to …. explain the misunderstanding. He knows that in order to stay with Him they have to have the right reasons. And then He turns to the twelve:

"Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?"

"Do you also want to go away?" The Lord didn’t keep (and does not keep) anybody compulsory. He had invested so much to these people. He had given them power. He had given them authority. They made miracles. He had opened His heart to them. He had called them His friends. However He didn’t control them and He does not control anybody. He wants us with Him not only because He wants it but also because you want it too. "Do you also want to go?" And here comes Peter to give Him the right answer:

"But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. "Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Let this be the answer and let these be the reasons for which we follow the Lord. Only those who believe that He has words of eternal life AND HAVE BELIEVED AND KNOW THAT HE IS THE MESSIAH, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD will not go away but will follow Him constantly, up to the end.

Anastasios Kioulachoglou