“Are you in it for the long haul?”
This is the question I could sense God asking me as I was reading through John, Chapter 6 recently — and it’s the same question I feel He wants me to ask each one of you. But before I get to the question-asking, let me give you some context.
Towards the end of John 6, we can see a clear turning point in Jesus’ earthly ministry. You see, up until that point, many people had seen Jesus’ miracles and had decided to follow Him. They were excited to walk away from their broken and boring lives and walk, instead, with this One who had brought them wholeness and healing — this One who had promised to give them a hope and a future.
Everything was going great for these people. Miracles were being performed left and right. Unconditional love and forgiveness were being passed around alongside the broken loaves and fish.
Lives and hearts seemed to be changing.
I think it’s safe to say that life for these new believers in Jesus Christ was good — that is, until Jesus started saying some peculiar things and making some peculiar claims.
In John 6:56-57 NKJV, Jesus tells His followers, “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 feeds on Me will live because of Me.”
Since we have the full and completed Word of God within arm’s reach at any given moment, we can read ahead in this chapter and see that Jesus was speaking to these people in a spiritual sense. To those who got to hear Jesus’ words in person, however, this was hard to understand and could even be considered disturbing. (I mean, who wouldn’t want to eat flesh and drink blood? Sounds totally appetizing!)
John 6:66-67 NKJV goes on to say this:
“From that time, many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”
Apparently, many of the people that Jesus had spent countless hours trying to reach and to teach had decided to turn away from Him. These same people who had once walked with Jesus and committed to following Him had turned around and left Him high and dry.
The message that Jesus had given to them proved to be a little too confusing, a little too difficult to follow, and a little less glamorous than they had hoped to hear. Ultimately, these “disciples” weren’t in it for the long haul.
Jesus, seeing this mass exodus, so to speak, couldn’t help but ask His closest friends and disciples if they wanted to leave Him, too. I love Peter’s response to Jesus in this passage and it’s one I would hope to have if I ever found myself in a similar situation.
Peter answers Jesus’ question in verse 68, saying this:
“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.”
I just love this because it shows that these true disciples knew there was nothing better out there — no one better to follow. No one better to turn to. Jesus was it for them!
It was Jesus or bust, and when everyone else stopped following Him, they didn’t.
They had tasted and seen that the Lord, He is good (spiritually speaking, of course)!
What about you? Have you tasted and seen that the Lord is good?
If you suddenly found yourself walking alone in your faith, would you still follow Jesus? Would you still be committed, even when those around you have walked away from Him?
Would you still follow Jesus when life hits hard and the hurts outweigh the happiness?
Would you still follow Jesus when the miraculous becomes drowned out by the mundane?
Are you in it for the long haul?
I would hope that each and every one of us could answer these questions with a resounding YES!
If you find yourself struggling with that answer today, let me encourage you to draw near to the Lord, instead of pulling away.
I know firsthand how tough life can be at times. Things are going to happen that are hard to go through and that don’t make sense — relationship issues, job losses, health problems. We’re all going to face trials and tribulations that will stretch us and test us in ways that will make us question everything we thought we knew about God and His goodness.
But hear me when I say this — there’s no one greater whom we can turn to in the midst of our mess than Jesus Christ. There’s no one more loving, no one more kind. There’s no one on this planet who cares about us as He does. And there’s no one who knows what we need better than He does! (He created us, after all.)
He, alone, has promised to never leave us nor forsake us, and He alone has promised to meet our every need. All we’re required to do is to keep trusting and to keep following — even when it’s hard and even when following Him is the last thing we want to do.
He may not always come through for us in the ways we expect Him to, but if He has promised to meet our every need (and He has), we need to trust Him to do it in His perfect timing, for our good and for His glory.
No matter how bad you may want to turn around and throw in the towel today, don’t do it, my friend. Just keep trusting and keep following.
Jesus is with you, He is for you, and where He leads you is exactly where you need to be!
He’s truly the good Shepherd and if you stick by His side for the long haul, I know you’ll experience His goodness, as well
Featured Image by Alice Hampson