"At this point, many of His disciples turned away and deserted Him. Then Jesus turned to the twelve and asked, 'Are you going to leave too?' Simon Peter replied, 'Lord, to whom would we go? You alone have the words that give eternal life.' " John 6:66-68
....."Discipleship is more than getting to know what the teacher knows. It is getting to be where He is." Juan Carlos Ortiz
The true follower of Jesus Christ will come to a spiritual crossroad in their walk. It is the question of, "Is there a point in my following of Him in which I will go no further?" And if there is, what is that point? Where is the point, the place, the issue in which you'll desert Him? Where is it that He will not only ask of you, but demand that you bear His cross and go on following Him, even at the deepest cost to yourself? Where is the point, the place, the path in which you'll say, "Lord, You ask too much. I cannot go any further with You?"
People come to Christ for so many reasons. They stay with Him, follow hard after Him for only one; they love Him. Wholeheartedly, completely, totally. Where He goes they go....even when the going leads through the very shadow of the valley of death...and into that valley if He calls them to it. We sing the chorus, "I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back." Does His heart hold ours so that these simple words are our reality? Or, is there something He may require of us that we'd shrink back from? What, for us, is too much, too far, too hard?
Most of the discipleship training that I've seen in the Church involves teaching people what Scripture says, imparting doctrine and theology along the way. There's value in this, but as Ortiz says, true discipleship is far beyond learning what the Teacher knows. It's being where He is. And being where He is will always involve the carrying of His cross....and that pathway will always involve great cost. In John 6, those disciples who turned away had been around Him long enough to know that He was calling them to a life that would cost them everything. Everything was too much. They couldn't follow Him any further. Scripture doesn't say, but it doesn't seem that they rejected Him completely, only in what He asked of them now. They turned back. Where will you turn back? Where are you turning back now?
So many of the songs we sing speak of our wanting to be where He is. We want to have the spiritual life of Paul, Peter, and John, but we are not anxious to walk the road that they did in order to have it. Crowds followed Jesus wherever He went. He gave good "bread." He healed folks. Blind people received their sight. Crippled people walked. There was so much excitement. But when He called them to be where He was, and showed them the path they'd have to walk to get there.....they turned back. We're always on board for the bread and the excitement....until we see the cross that lies right before us. As Chris Tiegreen says, "Our enemy doesn't mind Christianity when there's no cross in it.....if we take the offensiveness out of the gospel, we don't have the gospel."
The enemy isn't worried about bread and thrill seekers. He's terrified of those who stand with Peter, and say in the face of the deepest, darkest threat, "Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life." They've passed the point of no return.
For them, there is no turning back. I want to be with them....no matter where He leads......How about you?