Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Don’t Fold the Tents…Yet. (Part 1)

Jesus was the most popular man in Galilee. He was one of those, you know, whom you really love or you really hate. Jesus felt the resistance to his ministry growing so he left Galilee and crossed the sea to Caperneam. Just to make things interesting, his disciples rowed a boat and Jesus WALKED! The crowds sought him out and when he saw the great gathering he insisted they be fed. Over 5,000 feasted on two fish and five loaves. He had performed miracles, walked on water and fed the multitudes. Who could resist such a Savior?

But then Jesus began to set aside his miraculous works and he began to preach. His message in a nutshell….In order to experience eternal life you must be filled with my spirit. Eat my flesh and drink my blood. Embrace my teachings and become one with me. He was talking about making the ultimate sacrifice so they wouldn’t have to. The problem was their unbelief. John 6:60 “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” v. 52 “They were disputing and arguing sharply among themselves. v. 64 “There are some of you who do not believe.” v. 66 “Many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.”

The Capernaum Times may have reported: Extremist Who Claims to Be Messiah Finally Stumbles. In the beginning of chapter 6 Jesus has 5,000 followers. At the end of the same chapter he has only 11. Would that not be a loss of 4,989. Jesus ministry hits rock bottom. Thousands walk away. It all came crashing down in a moment. He may have felt like Tiger Woods. Looks much like failure. Looks like the resistance has won. Satan goes twelve rounds with Jesus and scores a T.K. in the final round.

Is Jesus discouraged? It sounds like he is when he asks his disciples this question: v. 67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Thank God for Peter, he steps up to the plate once more and hits a much needed home run. v. 68 “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

This chapter really stretches the mind. Why does the chapter end with failure? Why does it seem that Satan wins? Why does it leave us groping about in a dark valley?

Perhaps the purpose is to teach us that in spite of the dark times we face in our lives all is never lost. The chapter is difficult to understand but so too is our lives. When we find ourselves being overcome by quicksand, he becomes the solid rock under our feet. When the darkness smothers us he becomes the lamp that lights our way. When the mountain is too rocky and steep to climb he lowers his shoulder and lifts us.

Jesus’ followers were now only eleven. There was even a traitor among them. What is the message? I have put the devil right here in the midst of you and he is under my control. The message of this difficult chapter is that God is sovereign. When circumstances seem to overwhelm us, he is in control. When the resistance seems to be winning, he is in control. When Satan makes his presence known in our families and ministries….he is being controlled by the all powerful, sovereign God. God provides a sanctuary from the tormentor.

Jesus declared to them in verse 70, “Have I not chosen you…?” Am I not in control? Unlike the thousands, these eleven stayed. The thousands were attracted to the miracles and were in it for a free lunch. But when the tough words were spoken it was too hard to accept and so they drifted off. The eleven were much impressed by the miracles but when the tough words were spoken they believed. Being a true follower of Christ is not so much about what you know as it is about what you are willing to believe. It’s about faith, not knowledge.

Are you involved in a ministry that seems to be failing? Don’t be discouraged, Christ is in control. Are you having problems in a marriage or with family members? Are you distressed because of the direction your country has taken? Does it seem the resistance is winning? Do you find yourself asking, “Where is Jesus in all this?” He is right there, walking on water, willing to perform marvelous miracles, well qualified to be our Savior and Satan’s conqueror. Don’t panic, don’t fold the tents, just step back and watch the powerful, all-sovereign God work in your life.

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