Some gathered because of His words, others for the bread. They followed Him through the Jerusalem streets, to the Galilean shore, and to Capernaum. They were filled with awe and so they followed, and when their bellies were full, they conspired to seize Him and make Him their earthly king.
Then this man said, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (John 6:56).
Perhaps it took a while for these words to pass through the crowd. Surely, some must have thought He misspoke. Eat the flesh of a man? What God-fearing prophet would say such a thing to a people who kept themselves above pagan defilements, who knew to repent if they should even touch dead human flesh? Drink His blood? Did He say to drink His blood?
Awe quickly became rejection. He spoke of flesh and blood and then chastised His numerous disciples, for they harbored the same faithlessness as many in the crowd. And so, many of them departed. Faced with the imperative that they act upon their awe, they rejected Christ.
The 12 remained, and Christ turned to them. “You do not want to go away also, do you?” (v. 67)
Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life” (v. 68). He could not understand, any more than the disillusioned crowd, why Christ would command His flesh to be eaten. But Peter trusted Him enough to stay.
To align myself with Christ is to embrace not just His glory, but His rejection and suffering.
Throughout the Gospels, we see these two extreme reactions to Jesus—awe and rejection. Some, like Peter, hear and believe; others immediately scoff. Still others fall away—like the unnamed and forgotten disciples, they leave when their expectations aren’t satisfied.
While Christ was often met with either awe or rejection, I want to experience only the former. When I write about the Christian faith or when I speak of my salvation, I want people to respond in wonder. I don’t want to be laughed at. I don’t want to be considered simpleminded. My desire for an awe-filled response isn’t because I want the glory for Him, but because it reflects well on me. See how wise he is, to believe so deeply in the unseen Creator. Listen to how richly he feels the presence of God.
In my pride, I fear rejection. And when I let that govern—or even silence—my words, then I am not really following Christ at all, however much I imagine myself one of His disciples. To align myself with Christ is to embrace not just His glory, but His rejection and suffering. It is to embrace, as Peter did, mysteries beyond my understanding.
It is to accept, as well, what at times appear to be crushing defeats, with confidence that it is not my words or actions that ultimately win the battle, but the King who invites me to follow Him. It’s not because He needs my help, but because He would share with me the victory. My calling is to serve Him in awe, and to let Him accomplish the rest.