Ever been there? Most of us have and it can be either a good thing or a bad thing. Today, we’re unwrapping a piece of history when a group of individuals understandably called it quits—yet walked away prematurely. If we learn from what their basic struggle was, we should find ourselves thinking more clearly and being encouraged.

* * *

My husband and I once gave up when standing in line for some Texas BBQ. And trust me, we were committed to getting in the door of that joint!

As recommended, we arrived several hours early. And—sure enough—a substantial line of people had already formed. Before opening, employees of the restaurant came outside and began canvassing those in line ahead of us to track what people were planning to order. Staff knew how many pounds of brisket, ribs, and other meats had been smoking through the night and were calculating how deep into the line supplies would last. We were informed the brisket (which Brad was counting on) would be gone long before we could get in. Nonetheless, we decided to stick it out. The next update was that the ribs (which I’d been counting on) would be sold out approximately fifteen people ahead of us.

Clearly, we’d gotten there too late.

We understood and headed for the car.

You snooze, you lose.

Far greater than a line of people hoping to sink their teeth into legendary food were the masses of individuals who had been following Jesus. Yet despite Christ’s many miracles and compelling grace, some of His teachings and interactions likely caused a little head scratching.

Touching lepers?

Telling me to love my enemies?

Saying God is His Father?

Is He nuts?

No small number may have been pondering the question of whether to stick with Jesus or call it quits. Then came the day when He thinned the crowds. Jesus knew how it would go when He taught this in the synagogue in Capernaum:

I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.

I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever, and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh. (John 6:48-51)

He continued:  Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 

He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever. (John 6:53-58)

What was the reaction to Christ’s teaching? We next read that many of His disciples, when they heard this, said: “This is a difficult statement—who can listen to it?”

They would have known Leviticus 17:10-14, where God stated He would set His face against anyone who eats blood and would cut him off from among his people. I suspect that’s where my mind would have gone, and that I’d be horrified that Jesus was talking about people needing to eat His flesh and drink His blood. Remember, few (if any) at this point understood the prophecies of a suffering Messiah who would die to redeem people from their sin. For anyone in the “grossed out” camp, we may concede they were doing a better job of talking than considering the source. They subsequently missed the spiritual significance of what they were being told.

On the other hand, some of the crowd grumbled when Jesus said He was the bread that came down from heaven because they knew His parents, Mary and Joseph, and couldn’t accept what He said about Himself (see also John 6:40-43). Jesus’ claim that He was sent by the living Father was a stumbling block that they couldn’t get over (see John 6:61).

Whatever camp they were in, John 6:66 records: As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.

To their thinking, Jesus had crossed a line.

Any belief the Messiah was in their midst was foolish. It was time to walk away.

“That’s it, I’m done!”

* * *

The huge ‘However…”

Those who did choose to keep walking with Christ (whether or not they grasped what He was teaching at the time), came to know, love, and glory in the amazing truths Jesus taught about in Capernaum that day. He alone is the “everything” we need. The apostle Peter responded insightfully when Jesus asked the twelve if they would also leave:

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69)

* * *

When we don’t understand God, my friend, we do well to continue on with Him. If we do, the time will come when His words and all His ways will be made beautifully and astonishingly clear to us (as happened for those who unexpectedly found themselves walking with the resurrected Christ who explained the Scriptures to them; Luke 24:27).

* * *

“That’s it, I’m done!” needs to be our heart cry and follow-through when we repetitively succumb to sin in one or more areas of our lives. But never—never—our resolve when we don’t yet understand—or we’re refusing to believe—all aspects of what God has shown us in His Word, the Bible. And this most certainly includes the way to everlasting life (John 14:6).

* * *

I admit, referring to Texas BBQ in a blog housing Christ’s teaching on eternal life and relationship with Him is embarrassingly lame.

Nonetheless, Brad and I left that waiting line outside the restaurant because the good thing the owner/pit master had to offer was limited. It could only offer temporary pleasure and there wasn’t enough for everyone.

Not so with God! His resources are limitless and eternal as we see in Psalm 90:2 and I Corinthians 2:7-9. And His followers’ questions and doubts will one day vanish in His glorious presence! (John 20:28)

Therefore:

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)

June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

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