by David Sisler

Go back in your mind to the time of Jesus. Pretend you have never heard of the New Testament. Jesus has been publicly teaching for less than three years. You have been one who has followed him, but you’ve followed from a distance. You’ve liked what he has had to say, but so far you have not trusted yourself to him. You have not gotten too close.

Now, you hear him say, “If you do not eat of my body and drink of my blood, you have no part of me.” What is your reaction? From the perspective of the 20th century we know he was talking about making a total commitment. From the perspective of the first century, many had no idea what he meant. Some thought the obvious – this man is talking about cannibalism!

When John recorded that day’s events in his journal he said, “From that time, many of his disciples went away. They walked no more with him.”

What would have been your reaction?

Jesus turned to the Twelve, those men who had left all they knew to follow him. With a tone of voice that gave them their freedom, if they wanted it, he said, “Will you also go away?”

The casual disciples, as well as the Twelve, saw what Jesus’ ministry cost him. He had no privacy. People were constantly making demands on him. When he did not perform up to their expectations their misunderstanding flared first into distrust and then into open hatred.

Jesus respected the integrity of his listeners. He did not tone down the faith. He refused to make it easier. So overnight the ranks thinned. Overnight the mood changed.

Are we really any different? How do we react to difficulties and frustrations which we believe have come to us from the hand of Jesus? If the sky never darkened, would you ever really appreciate the sun? When our plans have been changed, even if the changes cause us pain, we need to listen to Simon Peter’s declaration: “Lord, if we leave you, where will we go? Only you have the words of eternal life.”

There are many reasons why we should stay.

I cannot account for suffering, if I do not consider Jesus.

I am often mystified by the suffering I see in my own life, or in the lives of others. But when I hear Jesus say, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you walk through the fire, the flame will not burn you, for I am your Savior” – then all is well.

I cannot account for disappointment, if I do not consider Jesus.

But with him, even if every hope shatters and every plan is broken, if I can hear him say, “What I do, you do not understand now, but later you will” – then all is well.

I can offer no hope to the man or woman who has been run over by life, if I do not consider Jesus.

We drink from many wells, but there is only one spring of eternal water that will satisfy. If a thirsty soul hears Jesus say, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but who ever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst” – then all is well.

Earlier, I asked you to pretend, but perhaps reality has already replaced make-believe. You left Jesus. You weighed the demands, and the cost was too high. Or perhaps you never intended to desert Him, but gradually you found yourself at the rear of the procession and, in frustration, you simply stopped following.

The Bible says, “The Lord is my shepherd,” but when you stopped following, you had no shepherd.

The Bible says, “The Lord is my refuge,” but when you stopped following, every storm lashed against you, and you had no protection.

Jesus says, “Come unto me and I will give you rest,” but when you stopped following, all you’ve known only restlessness.

Isn’t it about time you were honest with yourself. Yes, following Jesus is difficult, but without Him, what do you have? You tried your way, but having once known Jesus, nothing else satisfies. Isn’t it time you came back?


Copyright 2003 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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