ATP Blog #44 Gospel of John
How often have you noticed someone getting offended at another’s opinion? It seems to be an epidemic, especially in North America! Yet, many people have become offended when their belief system is challenged. The Jews thought their belief system was founded by God, through Moses, and that the Pharisees had clarified them into traditions that would make their God happy. Jesus Christ came along and challenged everything they believed in, and the motives behind their obedience.
Lack of Understanding One reason for offense is a lack of understanding in a situation. Too often we fail to ask questions, perhaps even not knowing the right questions, when we do not understand what a person has said or did. Jesus had just finished teaching about the gift of life that He was about to give through His own death. Verse sixty tells us that ‘many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” They had given up before they even got started. Good thing Jesus challenged them to stick around for an explanation.
Challenge of Beliefs When I went to Israel in 2014, a couple of us visited the Temple Institute in Jerusalem. The guide there explained all the preparations that they were making for the upcoming building of the Temple to God, and the description of the Messiah (yet to come) who would build it. It brought chills to me when I heard this description, as it fit exactly the Bible’s description of the coming Anti-Christ! The Jews had been taught for hundreds of years about a conquering hero Messiah, so when Christ came and presented a humble servant who would suffer and die, they rejected it. In this passage, Jesus challenges them to think about what the prophets of old really taught. (v62-63) “Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?” Jesus was asking, if you are offended at this teaching (bread and wine of communion), then how offended will you be when I rise up to God’s side in Heaven? There was much that Jesus taught, which better explained the law, but went against much of what the Pharisees and scribes had been teaching for hundreds of years.
Clouds of Doubt Many of those offended, did not understand because they did not believe in Christ, as they had not been drawn to Him by the Father (see the article on Election and Free Will). Since they would rather follow the father of lies (Satan), their minds were clouded to the truth, and they were not motivated to search for it. Jesus explains, ‘There are some of you who do not believe. … Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” (v64-65)
Response to Offense How do you respond when you are offended at something or someone? There are three responses in this passage. The first is to walk away. “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” (v66) Notice that the gospels describe more than just the twelve as disciples; anyone who followed Jesus and learned from His teaching were disciples. Later, we see 72 (Luke 10) sent out as missionaries to share the gospel. This was the final offense to them, the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back.’ They were no longer interested in listening to Jesus Christ. The Messiah then asked the twelve who followed Him closer, ‘Do you also want to go away?’ as a challenge to decide what to do with that which they did not understand. Their response was, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also, we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’ (v68-69) Their response was faith: believing despite some mystery to what He taught. This led most of them to the third response, of continual learning and growing, seeking knowledge of the truth. Unfortunately one stayed to the end, yet did not seek the truth, and Jesus called him a ‘devil.’ So, where are you at with the strange and counter-cultural teachings of Jesus Christ? How will you respond when it goes against what you think is true? Respond like the disciples in faith, and pursue the truth!