J.C. Thompson |

This week, we’ll see how Jesus’ words cause many to desert Him, and a few to be more fully devoted to Him.

Desertion – Message 8
J.C. Thompson
August 14, 2022

     A. Introduction (John 6:60-63. C/R: Hebrews 4:12)

  • Last week discussed the juxtaposition of Mary’s response to
Jesus’ words DIVIDE.

  • People love Jesus’ works, but they do not love His Word.
  • When Jesus is healing people, casting out demons, raising people from the dead, and miraculously providing food for everyone, He is the life of the party.
  • But then He speaks. And today He is speaking to a group of “disciples and I use the air quotes on purpose here, because they are disciples in the most basic sense of the word.
  • They are following Christ, but also seeking to understand who He is and how that might benefit them in their own lives.
  • But Jesus does not exactly meet their expectations when He begins to teach. So after He fed the 5,000, the crowd continued to follow Him, but they asked Him for things.
  • In verse 25, they asked Jesus why he left them. Jesus responds by saying they really did not want Him but only the bread that he provided.
  • So then they ask how they can perform those miraculous signs. In other words, well if you aren’t gonna do that again, tell us how we can do it. WOW.
  • But Jesus told them that the only work that needed to be accomplished was to believe in God.
  • So then they asked Him what He was going to do in order to prove that He was sent by God. Guess that providing bread miraculously was not enough.
  • They also quoted Scripture at Jesus saying that God provided manna before.
  • Jesus then tells them that God gave the bread and not Moses and that ultimately He is the bread of life. Manna was a picture of God being all that we need. He told them that He was from heaven and that they should place their faith in Him and that all that do will be resurrected on the last day.
  • But then you see it all unravel for this crowd. He can’t be from heaven, He’s from Mary and Joseph.
  • So Jesus pushes further with His words saying that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood. Which means that faith in Christ not only means believing the miraculous signs are from God, but also that Jesus will die and that we must place our faith in His death as well.
  • The crowd is aghast that Jesus would tell them to eat His flesh and drink His blood and today’s passage is their response to Jesus’ words.
  • John 6:60-63 (NLT) - Many of His disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” Jesus was aware that His disciples were complaining, so He said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”
  • These disciples are not true believers in Christ, they are just associating with Him while it’s popular.
  • The Greek word used here for hard to understand is “sklero” which means stiff, rigid or harsh. It is not that Jesus’ words are hard to comprehend, but instead that they are difficult to follow and are harsh to someone who is not a true disciple.
  • This is why our theme verse for today is this. It comes from Hebrews 4:12
  • Hebrews 4:12 (NLT) - For the Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
  • Jesus’ words are the very Word of God. And just like His words divided the crowd into true believers or false believers, the Scriptures do the same today.
  • You see words are powerful.
  • I’m sure you remember this saying when you were young, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I think that statement was designed to foster some resilience in people’s hearts and lives in responding to the hurtful words that people use.
  • You’re a cotton headed ninny muggings. Well, sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.
  • But I think the saying should go a bit more like this, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may break me too.”
  • You see Jesus’s words are what really divides people. And Jesus gives us insight into something as He replies, He says, “Oh you’re offended by what I say, what will you think when I ascend into heaven again?” He could be alluding to His crucifixion and resurrection, which I think makes the most sense based on the conversation He had previously, or He could be talking about His ascension after His resurrection.
  • Either way, Jesus says harsher, more difficult things are coming and if you can’t embrace these, do you think you’ll be able to embrace something more difficult?
  • John MacArthur says that “these disciples have no problem viewing Him as a baby in the manger at Christmas; a social reformer with a broad message of love and tolerance; the ideal human that everyone should emulate; or a source of health, wealth, and worldly happiness. But they are unwilling to embrace a biblical Jesus.”

B. In responding to Jesus’ words, we can…

1. DESERT Him. (John 6:64-66. C/R: Matthew 16:23; 1 Corinthians 1:23)

  • John 6:64-66 (NLT) - “But some of you do not believe Me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and He knew who would betray Him.) Then He said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to Me unless the Father gives them to Me.”
  • At this point many of His disciples turned away and deserted Him.
  • These “disciples” were confronted by Jesus.
  • Jesus called them to view themselves as they truly were, not true believers.
  • Jesus also reveals that this knowledge only comes from the Father. Faith is a gift given to us through the work of Jesus, the work of the Holy Spirit and the call of God the Father.
  • If you do not have this gift of faith, as these disciples did not, Jesus’ words can feel like a burden, difficult to reach, and can ultimately feel hurtful to you.
  • Jesus had many things to say about power, wealth, service, work, sex, and our identity. While His words are not difficult or confusing, they can cut.
  • The Scriptures are clear that His words are a stumbling block to Jews and to Gentiles.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:23 (NLT) - So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.
  • These words of Jesus, namely that His crucifixion is our very food and must be embraced in order to receive the gift of faith is an obstacle to those who desire to live life in their own way.
  • For those of you in this room who might be thinking that’s right, suck it up buttercup, Jesus’ words are it and truth is all we need.
  • I hope that you will go back and listen to the gentleness that Jesus gives these words. He is not harsh. His words also are not harsh, but they war with our own soul and identity.
  • This move from an identity to follower of Christ from someone who felt some harshness is chronicled well in
  • Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield. – [slide of book cover]
  • We can win people to Christ through relationship with them, but the reality is that at some point they will have to make a decision based on the claims of Christ.
  • Let’s make sure that if people reject the Gospel, it is because of the Gospel and not your attitude and disposition towards their sin.
  • Tell the truth, don’t be a jerk.
  • But know that Jesus is honest and truthful about how life is supposed to be, and He is the Creator of the world.
  • The Creator gets to determine how the world is supposed to be. Not you. The truth about those things could be offensive to you.
  • Pray for pastors around the country as well. There is a strong pressure to cave to the culture of our day by not telling the truth because it is hurtful to people.
  • It is far more harmful to be dishonest with others. I want our church to always be honest, but to do so because we want what is best for the person in front of us, not to harm them.
  • But rest assured, truth told with a loving attitude and spirit is never hurtful!
  • These “disciples” deserted Jesus not because Jesus said something untrue, but because it collided with their agenda for their own life.
  • But that was not the only response to Jesus’ words in this story.

In responding to Jesus’ words, we can…

2. DEVOTE ourselves to Him. (John 6:67-71. C/R: 1 Kings 8:61; Psalm 119:33-40; 1 Corinthians 7:35)

  • John 6:67-71 (NLT) - Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”
  • Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.”
  • Then Jesus said, “I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.” He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray Him.
  • After many deserted Jesus, Jesus turns to the Twelve. This is their first mention in the book of John.
  • Why do you think Jesus asked that question?
  • Well first the Greek lets us know that this was a rhetorical question where the answer is meant to be no.
  • So, Jesus asked them and expected a no answer. So why ask a rhetorical question?
  • He asked the question to laser focus on the point of this.
  • He is asking this so that they will understand that many are leaving, but they are not.
  • Jesus asked this question for the benefit on the disciples not His own benefit.
  • Peter then speaks for the group and relates that these men will not go anywhere else, and that Jesus’ words are just as He said, spirit and life.
  • Peter’s response is also beneficial not only for the disciples for us.
  • You notice that Peter did not say that Jesus’ miracles were life, or His power is life, but instead that Jesus’ words are life.
  • Jesus is the source of life. His words provide what we need to get through life.
  • When the Scriptures speak of the Word of God, they speak not only positively but that the Word of the Lord is what we need to survive, grow and gain perspective.
  • As the world continues to try and wrap its mitts around your heart, God’s Word is what we must invest ourselves in to find life.
  • Psalm 119 is the chapter for us that points us to the benefits of God’s Word. I think it is worth reading in its entirety this week and praying that God would make those benefits that the Psalmist discusses true in your life.
  • Psalm 119:33-40 is one section of this Psalm.

Psalm 119:33-40 (NLT)

Teach me Your decrees, O LORD;

I will keep them to the end.

Give me understanding and I will obey Your instructions;

I will put them into practice with all my heart.

Make me walk along the path of Your commands,

for that is where my happiness is found.

Give me an eagerness for Your laws

rather than a love for money!

Turn my eyes from worthless things,

and give me life through Your word.

Reassure me of Your promise,

made to those who fear You.

Help me abandon my shameful ways;

for Your regulations are good.

I long to obey Your commandments!

Renew my life with Your goodness.

  • I think this should be a model for us for how we view God’s Word. It should be something that is life, brings joy and is truly how we shape our lives.
  • But we must believe that the Word is what it says that it is. Not only do we need it, but the world needs it.
  • Let’s pray that we are changed by it and allow it to be the way we change the world.

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