On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” (John 6:60)
In most things that matter in life, you will face adversity of some kind. There will be a point in time where you’ll need to make a decision of whether or not the sacrifices are worth the reward. The same is true when it comes to faith. It’s better to understand all that Jesus asks of us and before we decide if we’re willing to commit. Too often, we pick and choose what we find attractive about Christianity and then leave the rest behind, but Jesus called his followers to a total commitment.
Jesus wasn’t simply a “Mr. Rogers” of the first century; no one tried to crucify Mr. Rogers. No, Jesus said hard stuff, and people who were to be his followers weren’t signing up for the easy route. Jesus said his burden was light, but that was in reference to the burdensome laws the Pharisees were placing on the backs of the Jews.
Jesus challenged people to the point where they had to give their entire lives to him, and many decided to drop away. If following him were easy, wouldn’t the whole world be following even today? After a sizeable group left, Jesus posed the question to the Twelve: do you want to leave, too?
Peter’s response was nothing short of remarkable: to whom would we go? Jesus had given them the answers to life’s deepest questions and longings, and Peter recognized that there was nowhere else to go. As uncomfortable as following Jesus might have been for him, there weren’t any other satisfying choices available. If not Jesus, then what?
We can’t return to the ridiculous laws of the Pharisees where we’re trying to earn our way into God’s good graces. Nor can we ignore the Truth that we have begun to understand about Jesus’ life and death for our sins. The only choice I find myself having is the same one Peter had: where else can I go? One of the greatest aspects of following Jesus is the promise that He will give us grace and strength for each moment of difficulty and challenge that we face.
Father, following Jesus isn’t an easy thing to do. And yet, in the midst of the challenges, there is extreme joy. Please help me to have the courage to follow – even when things are challenging. Help me to pursue You with my entire being, and in the end, let me be encouraged by Your presence, strength, and grace.