Short Meditations in John 6: 60. A Road Block?
Jn 6:60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
What always surprises me about this verse is that it doesn’t say, “On hearing this many of the crowd….” Clearly a number of the people in the synagogue listening to his teaching had been his followers as well as the general crowd that had followed him back across the lake after the feeding of the five thousand, and now it is some of these people, his followers, who were struggling. This did not include ‘The Twelve’ who were also there.
So it seems we have three groups of people there with Jesus. First, the general crowd who had come looking to make him king so he could continue to feed them, second, a number who could up until that point be considered his followers or disciples, but who were now having second thoughts and, third, the committed hard-core of believers who would stick with Jesus whatever (crucifixions aside!).
So what was it that distinguished and separated these three groups? First, ‘the crowd’ were people who were there for their own interests and they were people who had never committed themselves to following Jesus. Second, the disciples now about to draw back were those who had initially caught a sense of who they thought Jesus was and had become ‘followers’. But what distinguished the third group? the committed followers who stuck with Jesus? Well that was it, they were committed and that means committed whatever.
We have noted previously in this chapter, in the crowd there were the grumblers, the ones who struggled to understand Jesus’ teaching and who, instead of humbly asking to have it shared more simply, just grumbled. That is not committed.
According to Jesus’ Parable of the Sower (Mt 13), the crowd were “anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.” (13:19) The disciples who fell away were like either the seed falling on shallow soil or the seed falling among thorns (13:20-22). It is only the committed disciples who form the good seed that bears fruit (13:23). People fall away because the way seems too hard, the teaching is too difficult or some other reason that reveals a shallow heart that has never been fully committed to Christ.
This verse comes as a warning and an alert for us to check our hearts and ask ourselves, “Am I a shallow believer, easily put off by the enemy, or will I be all out for Jesus, committed to him so it doesn’t matter if it’s hard or I don’t understand it all?”