John 6:66-71, NIV

66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer
followed him. 67 "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus
asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom
shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe
and know that you are the Holy One of God."

70 Then Jesus replied, "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve?
Yet one of you is a devil!" 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon
Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)

May 5, 2011
This chapter began with an exhilarating moment--Jesus feeding 5000
men on a hillside near the Galilean Sea. It ends "in the pits" with many
of his disciples leaving him, not because of what Jesus did but because
of what Jesus said. Were they disappointed? Disillusioned? Did Jesus
fail to meet their expectations?

Was it the strangeness of his words that turned people off? Or the way
Jesus said it? Was it too much at one time so that it overwhelmed them?

When I'm faced with things in the Bible I don't understand, my inclination
is to put the difficult part "on the back burner" so to speak, and focus on
what is clear. There's plenty that we can understand and act upon. If all
I can absorb is that I am to turn my attention toward Jesus in my daily
life, and feed on him with the same thoughtful anticipation that I use to
prepare and eat my meals, then that's enough understanding to get me
started. If the whole is too mystifying, then a small piece is a good
place to begin.

Sometimes I think the question is, "Do I want to believe?" If I do, then
I find a way to begin. If I don't, then everything can become an excuse.
Simon Peter and the rest of the Twelve wanted with all their heart to
believe and so they remained with Jesus. They trusted the validity of
Jesus' words even when they didn't fully grasp their meaning.
Belief came first; understanding will follow.

                                                                            More journal entries

June 16, 1983
For some of those at the synagogue that day their expectations of
Jesus were plummeting. What Jesus did was terrific--feeding a crowd
from a boy's picnic lunch, healing the sick, calming a storm. But what
he said . . . who could fathom that!

I suppose different people will hear different things when they read
these verses. But this morning I hear discouragement. It says many of
his disciples left off following Jesus. Many is a lot of people. Love may
have turned to hate for some of them. This verse also describes today's
religious scene. People for many and varied reasons, still take leave
from actively following Jesus.

Peter and the others who remained were seeing something the others
missed. Maybe they were learning to use the eyes of their soul as well
as their physical eyes. They were picking up additional messages about
what the works of God are and mean, both now and in the future. They
would dare to risk their lives and fortunes for a life Jesus called eternal.

Eternal life - we don't know what Peter meant by that phrase. It's not
in the Old Testament Scriptures. Which means Peter and the others
did not have a foundation upon which to build a framework for that
concept. All they had was complete trust in the teachings and person
of Jesus. Which, 2000 years later, is where many of us are at too. Like
that story in Matthew 7, we are trying to build a secure abode; not on
the sand, but on the rock, Christ Jesus our Lord.

The other three Gospel writers talked about the kingdom of heaven.
John talked about eternal life. Were these two different ways of
expressing the same thing?

January 23, 2002
Jesus to the Twelve: Will you also go?

We don't know if any time expired between the question and the answer.
Was there a pause? Did these 12 disciples form a huddle and discuss
the matter?

Spokesmen Peter: Lord, we have no reason to go anywhere else; you
are eternal life to us. Furthermore, we know and are convinced that
you are Christ the Son of God!

Jesus: I chose Twelve, but one of you is a devil.

So many had just left him. He looks at the 12 and knows that even one
of them will do him in and betray him. Jesus must have been filled with
great sadness. He would have to leave everything in the hands of God.

January 24, 2002
Peter spoke with certitude. His emotions were running high. He knew
without a shadow of doubt that this was the Christ, the holy one of God.
What a wonderful moment in Peter's life, how pleased he sounds as
he makes this faith statement.

Jesus responded to Peter's words with a "down in the valley" statement
of fact. The reality is that I'm looking at 12 yet one of you will not be true
but will turn against me and betray me. I'm glad Jesus stopped at that
because he could have gone on to discourage all the others by telling
them that they would all fall away on that future fateful night. Even Peter
who today was so confident, would on that night deny he ever knew
Jesus. Jesus was balancing Peter's faith affirmation with Judas' desire
to betray.

June 25, 1983
Jesus instigated conflict frequently, it seems on purpose, as though he
enjoyed living on the cutting edge. In these final verses of John 6, he
seemed to be stirring up hostility among his followers, threatening their
egos, questioning their loyalties and sense of value as disciples, and
making them want to defend themselves.

Peter, the spokesman for the Twelve, had the right words and their
decision to stay with Jesus showed they were all planning to live by
those words.

Where else? They knew of nothing better. This was it. If Jesus failed
them their lives were wasted. They were gambling on Jesus, which is
what we do too. Hannah Hurnard in her book, Hind's Feet, put the
same thought in the mind of her main character-- even if Shepherd
were deceiving her, she still wanted to follow him. That's the way one
must follow because there are no certainties, no guarantees. Being
a Christian is gambling on the truth of Jesus. Deciding that even if
Christianity is not authentic, you still want to follow Jesus. It means
you won't be angry and devastated if the whole thing turns out to be
a hoax. You haven't lost a thing, but have been enriched regardless.

June 23, 1983
Are you also wanting to leave me? Such a sad verse--for Jesus and
for everyone concerned. And the Twelve--were they the Twelve because
they stayed with Jesus when everyone else left him? Some of them
Jesus called specifically--Andrew, Peter, James, John, Matthew, Philip
and maybe Nathanael Bartholomew. But the others, did they follow on
their own volition and stay with Jesus throughout this incident? Not
specifically asked, but choosing to stay?

Maybe Jesus had too many disciples so he provoked some into leaving!
And tested the Twelve by asking them if they also wanted to leave him.
It's easy to do what everyone else is doing; in this case, leaving.

June 24, 1983
Where would we go? Some of them had already been with John the
Baptist (now beheaded), and there was no one else on the scene.
We're staying with you, Jesus, because there is no one greater that we
know of. You speak words of eternal life.

The Gospel writer, John, used that phrase constantly--eternal life. Some
days I think I know what it means. Other times it remains a mystery to
me. Does everybody understand what eternal life means? Is it a simple
concept? Or complex? Does no one really understand it?

Was Jesus wanting everyone to go away for awhile so he could get
away from it all? Tomorrow will be another day. But right now I need to
be renewed and refreshed and all you do is drain me more. Please let
me be alone with my Father.

May 13, 2011
What is the difference between the many and the few? We learned this
week the difference between the many who didn't make it and the few
who became Navy Seals is that the Seals never quit. Ditto for the
twelve disciples of Jesus.

June 27, 1983
John brought up the subject of the betrayer early in his gospel. Jesus
called Judas a devil. Was Jesus extremely tired and therefore down
on himself because he choose one with the devil in his heart? But the
Bible doesn't reflect this as the fault of Jesus or a flaw in his work.
Rather the Bible states it was necessary to have a betrayer among
the Twelve. Choosing Judas was a part of God's plan, not a matter of
making a wrong selection.

As early as John 6:71, Judas was thinking about betraying Jesus.
7:1 says the Jews were planning to take Jesus' life. Were the disciples
aware of the animosity at the time or was this hindsight read back into
the situation? Traveling under threat of death to their leader would
mean much uncertainty surrounded them.

Judas, son of Simon, were you an evil man? The Bible says someone
had to do it but woe to the one who did! Were you predestined? Did you
have a choice? Was life unfair to you?

Here he was, walking daily with Jesus, yet thinking about betrayal. In
some ways, many of us share your guilt. Treachery in our relationships
is not uncommon. Judas sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, the price
of a common slave. We do no better when we betray our faith in Jesus
in exchange for a cheap thrill. As in a parable Jesus told, the only real
security for the prodigal was with the Father. But how distracted we
can be by short-term pleasures.

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