“This is a hard teaching, who can accept it” Part 1
By Kevin Probst
In Capernaum, Jesus had to deal with a large number of false disciples. Thousands turned away from him and his true disciples must have been very discouraged. Many who followed him were selfishly motivated. They were enamored by Christ, they were amazed by his miracles. They were attracted by the things he did but when they hear his words “it was a hard saying they could not endure.”
These false disciples never really discerned who He was. They never really understood why he came. They never perceived what it was he wanted to accomplish. When he puts his finger on their spiritual need, when he tells them they are without an answer to the problems in their life they are offended and they walk away.
They never believed that he was God in human flesh. They ridiculed him when he claimed to be the Son of God. They smirked when he claimed to be the Messiah with power to save them of their sins. They bristled at the idea that he was the Savior of the world.
When does Jesus lose this group? When he moves from deeds to words. He was alright when he was passing out free fish sticks, and it was really cool when he entertained them with all those miracles but when he started talking this stuff about being the bread of life, about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, about being one with him in spirit, about accepting him as the solution to their problems, as the light to their darkness, as the bread that would satisfy their insatiable appetite…it became a saying too hard to accept.
This group goes to church for entertainment. They look for a church that will pander to their own fleshly needs. They run from the truth, it cuts too deeply, and they yearn for soft words that will make them feel good. 2 Tim. 4:3 “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
Jesus addresses this group: “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” – John 6:26
Some go to church because they feel guilty if they don’t. Some go to church because they are lonely and they need to socialize. Some go to church because networking with the people of the community is good for business. Some go simply to be entertained. These false disciples don’t go to church to worship the one and only God of their salvation.
America’s churches are full of those who love the benefits offered but who hate the words of Christ. How many pastors will be accountable to God for preaching a soft gospel so as not to run anyone off? Maybe that’s why we make such a big thing of Christmas. The world loves Christ in a manger, a little, helpless babe who can’t yet talk. They feel safe with a Christ like that. Put and keep him in a sheep stall.
I see multitudes of T.V. preachers teach about the love of Christ, how sweet he is, how wonderful are his works, how amazing are his miracles. How marvelously he will bless those who will send a check to the church. But very seldom do I hear those preachers refer to the words of Jesus, words that say, “You’re a sinner, you’re on your way to hell and I’m the only answer to your dilemma.”
The problem here is unbelief. These false disciples refused to accept his words! It’s not that they didn’t understand. It’s that they found his words objectionable. It was offensive.
What did they object to? The idea that He said he came from heaven. The idea that He said he was the only answer to their spiritual need and the idea that he spoke of eating his flesh and drinking his blood. They found all of this intolerable. “Who can hear this, who can accept this?” They wanted a Messiah but they wanted to mold him themselves. So many today want Christ but they want a ‘build a bear’ type Christ. They only want him if he fits their own mold.