“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.”
One of the chief features of the New Testament Gospels is their single minded focus upon the person of the LORD Jesus Christ. There are so many individual points that we have to wrestle with in these Gospels and it is very easy for us to get bogged down some of the details and as a consequence miss the call to know and love the LORD Jesus. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in a sermon recorded in his book Living Water points this out in connection with the fourth chapter of John’s Gospel with these words.
“Do you ever sit down and contemplate Him? Do you think of Him – the effulgence of the everlasting and eternal God who was born as the babe in Bethlehem? Does that move you? Does it thrill you? If it does not, I must ask you a question, are you a Christian? This is most important. Let me tell you what a friend from Africa once told me. He had experienced revival in Africa, and he and others came over to this country on a visit. He had gone around telling people about the revival, and everyone had greatly enjoyed listening to him. But a year later he came back again, and he began going around to the same churches. But he had a feeling, indeed he felt certain, that it was the leading of the Holy Spirit that this time he should preach the gospel about the LORD Jesus Christ, and he began to do so. He told me that people would come up to him at the end of the meeting, good, evangelical, Christian people, and say, “Thank you very much for the message, but we did hope that you would tell us some more about the revival.” He said, “You see, they did not want to hear about Jesus. They wanted to hear about the thrills and the excitements of revival.” How devastating that is!”
(Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn, Living Water, Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 2009, p. 423-434)
I am focusing on this today because I have, just this past week, been teaching a course of the Pastor and Mission. As vital and as glorious as this topic is it can lead us into the danger of focusing upon our mission to the exclusion of the person of the LORD Jesus Christ. This is what I see as the root of the issue that the LORD Jesus Christ has with the people in Galilee in John 6. They want to see, and experience more of the miraculous nature of the ministry of Jesus. Jesus is teaching them about Himself. They need to recognise that He is in fact the fulfillment of all that the Scriptures have taught about the coming Messiah. What is needed is the personal, life transforming, knowledge of Jesus Christ. What they were looking for is those things which He could do for them.
As Jesus discusses with the people of Galilee the focus of the conversation becomes increasingly heated and personal. They will not have life as long as they refuse to come to Him as their only hope for redemption. The consequence of the discussion is reached in verse 66 where many of those who have been following Jesus turn back from following Him. I believe that this is one of the main reasons why John shares this lengthy account. It brings us to the key question and confession which Peter delivers.
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” This is the question of the LORD Jesus to each one of us. He asks it whenever our discipleship becomes too real and hard. Are you going to turn back as well?
There is only one answer to such a question which will sustain us through the difficult times as a disciple of Christ. This is the confession which Simon Peter gives in verses 68-69. “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.” There is no other hope or way. It is all about the LORD Jesus Christ. Do you know Him?