“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:60-69). 

When it comes to God’s Word we are not called to understand or like it all but we are called to believe and live it! 

God’s word, and Jesus’ teaching in particular, often times will disturb our flesh and pride. We do not want to accept it but desire to rationalize and explain it to our own liking. Jesus knew this. Even those who lived with Him for nearly three years, saw His miracles, and observed the perfection of His life wanted to reject His teaching because they didn’t understand it or it made them feel uncomfortable. The same is true today with each of us. Let’s see what this passage says about these challenging Biblical instructions. 

  • Some of God’s teachings are hard to accept and we can find ourselves offended by them (vss. 60-62). These difficult precepts permeate scripture from beginning to end and include the utter sinfulness of man, the absolute authority, holiness and glory of God, the “foolishness’ of His plan of salvation, and a myriad of seemingly unrealistic demands in following Him with all of our heart (for example see Matthew 5-7).
  • Such teachings can only be understood through the Holy Spirit and will be rejected by our natural, fleshly nature (v. 63). I have often said that I can teach the truth but only the Holy Spirit can impart it. God’s word is often offensive (v. 61) and so is the cross (Galatians 5:11) yet it is the wholly reliable. As someone has said, “It may hurt, but it is the truth”. 
  • Some will choose not to accept the hard teachings of Jesus and Christianity from the beginning (v. 64). These are folks that reject Christ outright – they are atheists, agnostics, and followers of other, easier to follow religions. They are unwilling to accept Christ’s claims and surrender their lives to Him due to their selfish unwillingness to yield to such a sacrificial, spiritual, and God-centered ideology.  
  • God Himself is the enabler of those who will believe and accept His word (v. 65). Jesus had just stated that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…” (John 6:44). The word for draw could be translated “to drag” and indicates our utter dependence upon God to both understand His gospel and come to Him. 
  • Some will abandon their faith due to an unwillingness to accept the entire counsel of God (vss. 66, 67). Some may be attracted to what Jesus offers but are later repelled by what He requires. Taking up a cross and denying themselves (Mark 8:34) is just too much to ask. Other teachings seem just as overbearing and exaggerated and more than those on the fringe of the faith can tolerate. This includes those who profess to be Christians yet so water down, rationalize, or liberalize God’s word that it hardly resembles the true gospel.
  • In the end, He is the Holy one of God and His words are the word of eternal life (vss. 68, 69). Peter got it right. Where else can we go to know God? Jesus has the words of eternal life. He is the Holy One of God. He is worthy of our trust and obedience as He and His words are our only hope…no matter how challenging they may be. 

Let us all be warned that following His teaching is not for the weak or the faint of heart. It requires both faith and surrender. His words are truth and life. He is who He says He is and what He says is worth staking our eternal destiny on. Whether we “feel” like accepting or living it is not the issue. It is about believing Him in all that we don’t understand or our flesh would prefer to reject about His Word while still living it by faith. This is the kind of trust and yielding that demonstrates that God has truly drawn us to His truth and His Spirit has given us His life.