Fans Don’t Always Follow…
“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? Then 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—they are full of the Spirit and 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 them.” 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 have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:60-68
As I am writing this, we are just a few days away from the final week of the NFL regular season. There are multiple teams (including my hometown team) that have significant playoff ramifications attached to this Sunday. As a result, fandom around this time is at an all-time high. The further into a season, the more our team colors start to show. For many, the temperature of their whole week is directly tied to the success of their favorite teams. If they lose, we feel personally slighted. Even though we have no personal investment, we feel like we are owed a share of their victory. But if we switch allegiances next season, does that really affect the team? (You know… the ones ACTUALLY on the field taking the hits…)
We are now launching into our annual theme (rooted) and looking at the ways in which we can move beyond the position of being a “fan” of Jesus, to learn what it means to grow as a “follower.” Sure, we “follow” sports teams, but not in any way that changes our lives. We just want THEM to make us feel good, or give us something to brag about with what THEY are doing.
This is exactly what we see playing out in John chapter 6. Jesus gives the Super Bowl performance of a lifetime. He feeds thousands with a Lunchable, and then follows that up with walking on water. This is the part of the show where everyone wants to be seen with Jesus. But then… He starts to teach… and when He teaches, He begins to challenge the crowd. The way that Jesus presents the idea of truly following can be simply summarized by this: Jesus did not want them to just physically follow Him as He did His thing… He wanted them to believe in His identity as the Son of God and adopt His way of life. In His cryptic explanation to us, He is basically saying, “I did not come to just temporarily be present WITH you, I came to eternally be WITHIN you.”
And with that… many decided that “fan” was as far as they were willing to go. And that decision caused them to miss out on the Bread of Life that could save and sustain their souls, because they didn’t have the faith to want anything more than the loaves that filled their stomachs.
These are convicting moments that we find from Jesus. But, if we stick with Him, our hope is that we can discover who He truly is, rediscover how much love He has for us, and uncover the blessings found when we become rooted in Him.