Saturday, August 4, 2012

"Too Tough to Swallow..."

Today's Life Journal readings were from 2 Kings 22, 2 Chronicles 34, and John 6.

Scripture: John 6:60 (The Message)
"Many among his disciples heard this and said, 'This is tough teaching, too tough to swallow.'"

Jesus is starting to get to the meat and potatoes of why he was sent.  At this point in John's gospel the explanation of the redemptive aspect of his mission was  more than some could handle.  All this talk of eating flesh and drinking blood was just too much.  His crowd had been growing steadily because of the "signs" John continually refers to, such as the healing stories, the feeding of the crowds, and other things of that nature.  Now the real teaching begins.

This teaching is tough to swallow.  Jesus has effectively begun to weed out those who were just there for the show, or to get what they could get, and may or may not have been serious about being kingdom bringers.  I don't know if it was intentional or not, but the end result was the same regardless.  Many who had been following turned back when they heard Christ describing himself as the Bread of Life.

It still happens today.  The number of those who follow may grow steadily larger until the real work begins.  Then one by one, or maybe even in large numbers, they begin to disappear.  What Jesus didn't do in this story, however, was to go chasing after them and begging them to come back.  We would be tempted to do that because we are judged more by numbers than depth of discipleship.  Instead, Jesus looked at his core group, "The Twelve," as John calls them, and asked them if they wanted to leave as well.  He was concerned with depth and dedication, and maybe that is the definition of discipleship we should be working toward. 

Do we have what it takes to stick with him through the tough stuff?

O God, who calls and sustains us, give us ears to hear and strength to follow, even though the path before us be rough and steep.  Grant us holy boldness when the temptation to turn back becomes stronger than we alone can fight, so that with you and through you, we can take even the tough teachings as a guide for our living.   

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