I forget sometimes that Jesus had more than twelve disciples. I mean, yes, there were the twelve, the ones everyone remembers, the ones mentioned by name in the gospel accounts. But there were others—in Luke 10:1-12, for instance, we see Christ sending out seventy disciples. I kind of struggled my way through Calculus II, but I feel confident enough in my mathematical abilities to say with a high degree of certainty that seventy is a significant amount larger than twelve.
There are other references, too. One of the more intriguing for me is in John’s gospel account. Hungry crowds are chasing after Christ, hoping for another loaves-and-fish type miracle (because who doesn’t enjoy a free meal?), when Jesus stops them to explain that the true bread of life is not manna from heaven or five barley loaves that feed five thousand mouths. The true bread of life is Christ Himself. And when the Jews began to start debating how someone could be calling their own flesh bread, Jesus explains, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53).
We know today that Christ’s words were in reference to His sacrifice on our behalf—that the flesh and blood He requires us to partake of are symbolized at Passover by the bread and the wine consumed in memory of His death in our place for our sins. But at the time, without that understanding, even many of Christ’s own disciples said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” (John 6:60). It was confusing; it was hard to understand; it didn’t make any sense. The Bible records, “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66).
What Christ said was hard. It was so hard that many of His followers gave up. That was it for them; it didn’t make sense, and they were done with it all. And then Jesus asks the twelve disciples, “Do you also want to go away?” (John 6:67).
I love Peter’s response: “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” (John 6:68-69). Not just one or two, but many of Christ’s disciples decided that what they were hearing was just too hard for them. They didn’t want to deal with it, so they left. But Peter, faced with same situation, doesn’t even see leaving as an option. We could paraphrase his response as, “There isn’t anything out there worth leaving You for! You’re the Son of God; You have the truth—why would we waste our time on anything else?”
Being a Christian is hard. We’re going to find that the Bible says many hard things and calls us to do many hard things. There will be days we find ourselves exhausted beyond measure. There will be days we become convinced we’re butting heads with a brick wall and getting nothing besides bruises. There will be days that frustrate us to the point we consider throwing our hands up and walking away.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:7-10).
Yeah, life gets hard. Satan wants so badly to shatter us. Some days he pushes us right to the edge of our breaking point and forces us to choose whether or not it’s worth it to keep going. Some days he manipulates things in a way that is sure to offend us and make us consider going back and walking with Christ no more.
But you know what? When those days come, and Christ asks me, “Do you also want to go away?” I have an answer:
“Lord, to whom shall I go? You have the words of eternal life.”
There will be hard days, but they are worth it—because God is using each of those days to bring me closer to Him. I’m not going to walk away, because there is not now, nor will there ever be, anything else worth walking away for. Our God and His Son have the words of eternal life. What’s better than that?
Until next time,