Tuesday in the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time

John 6:60-71

Seeing Jesus as the Bible Portrays Him

It is imperative that we see Jesus the way the Bible portrays him and not as our imaginations wish.  I often hear people describe Jesus as compassionate and kind (with which no one would disagree), but then speak as if Jesus overlooked sin (with the exception of religious leaders, of course) and welcomed, indeed pleaded, with literally everyone to follow him, regardless of the condition of their hearts or intensity of commitment – kind of a hippy tiptoeing all over Galilee with a ukulele singing kumbaya at campfires.

Here we see the uncomfortable fact that Jesus was content to let people walk away who refused to hear or believe in him.  In this instance, upon hearing Jesus talk about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, some of his disciples (and at this time there were more than just the twelve) say to him, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”  Jesus responds that if they are offended at this, what will they think if they see him “ascending to where he was before?”  This is a rather cryptic remark whose meaning is debated but may refer to the extreme disappointment these unbelieving disciples would surely experience if (indeed when) their Messiah is taken away into heaven rather than establishing an earthly rule with themselves sharing the power.  These men were after matters of the flesh, not the spirit.  But the point I am highlighting is that when they walked away, Jesus did not pursue them saying, “Oh, come on guys.  It’s all just a misunderstanding.  Come on back and we can work things out.”  No.  Jesus let them walk away.  And there are other such instances.  How about the rich young ruler?  Did Jesus run after him saying, “Look, I was too hard on you back there.  All you need to do is give ten per cent.  Come on back and be part of our posse”?  When another came to follow him, Jesus even discouraged him: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”  Jesus wouldn’t even wait for one would-be-disciple to go back and bid farewell to his family (Luke 9:57-62)!  The passage goes on to say that Jesus knew who believed in him and who didn’t, and that he added, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father,” which very truth we have spoken about in recent devotions.

Yes, Jesus is kind, loving, and compassionate; but he is also firm, commanding, and uncompromising.  He is both the Lion and the Lamb, and any teaching that shirks one or the other is bound to go awry.  The one who loves me also tells me, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).  Be sure to see Jesus as the Bible portrays him.

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