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Prepare

Select one or two aspects of Jesus’ identity and character; reflect on them and prepare to meet him today.


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Bible passage John 6:60–71


Many Disciples Desert Jesus
 60On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?"

 61Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? 62What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64Yet 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. 65He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him."

 66From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

 67"You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve.

 68Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."

 70Then Jesus replied, "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!" 71(He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)



New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


Audio Bible passage


The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).


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Leaving the race
We’d expect the Jewish crowd to dismiss Jesus’ claims as the blasphemous delusions of a local boy who’d got too big for his sandals (vs 41,42,52), but it’s hard to see people who’ve made some commitment walk away (v 66).

If we’ve been involved with a church for a while we’ll know people who at one time seemed to be running the race of faith with perseverance but sadly turned away. Perhaps we’ve been such a person, and ultimately returned, discovering that even ‘if we are faithless, [Jesus] remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself’ (2 Timothy 2:13).

Personal struggle
At some point, after being attracted to Jesus by God’s grace (v 65), many of us hit a fault-line in our journey of faith that we struggle to pass beyond. It might be a ‘hard teaching’ (vs 60–62) which offends our beliefs, lifestyle or identity, or we might encounter sickness or loss that cause us to question God’s care.

In this, we must look to God for perseverance and wisdom (James 1:2–8) and ‘not move from the hope held out in the gospel’ (Colossians 1:23), by which we first believed and knew that Jesus is ‘the Holy One of God’ (v 69).


Respond


Pray for those struggling with belief to endure in their faith, so they will be proved to be good soil that ‘produces a crop, yielding a hundred ... times what was sown’ (Matthew 13:23) for God’s kingdom.

Phil Andrews


Deeper Bible study


‘God has not promised us an easy journey, but he has promised us a safe journey.’1

The mood changes from high elation (wanting to make Jesus king, John 6:15) to rejection. Why? Because people can accept Jesus as a good and powerful man, even a spiritual one, but when he speaks of being God’s Son whose mission is to give eternal life, he discloses his true nature. Jesus recognises that even his own disciples are struggling: ‘Does this offend you?’ (v 61). Were they already making career plans with Jesus? His God-talk with its exclusive life-and-death claims is not what they expected. ‘They were ready to dominate but not to die’2. Though they have only seen a fraction of Jesus’ mission which will take him to the cross and back to glory, already Jesus is proving too much God! Many disciples in the crowd now leave.

Poignantly, the second question asks the twelve whether they will leave too (v 67). In Greek, questions expecting the answer ‘yes’ begin with the word ouand those anticipating ‘no’ with me. Jesus uses me – he is urging them not to leave. Though no one can come to Jesus unless God enables them (vs 37,65), believers have a responsibility to stay close. Simon Peter blurts out that there is no other option but to stay (v 68). No one else speaks words of eternal life as God’s Son.

The third question (v 70) soberly reminds us that Jesus chooses us – yet the obligation to stay close remains ours. Even one of his closest disciples will betray him. I remember a minister who shared with me how his ministry seemed empty, that he was pretending all the time and honestly wondered if he had ever really believed. Following close is not always easy, but the one who know us completely urges us, gently, not to leave. Jesus longs for us to stay.

Michael Quicke

 

1 William C Miller in Living Quotations for Christians, Hodder, 1974
2 S Guthrie, All that Jesus asks, Baker, 2010, p194


Background: Meet Judas


Background

He is known as Judas Iscariot (eg Mark 3:19). Some have explained this as being derived from an Aramaic version of a Latin word meaning assassin. But the most likely explanation is that he came from a village called Kerioth1.

Disciple

Jesus saw him as one of his group of disciples. He travelled with the group. He is frequently, especially in the Passion narrative, described as ‘one of the twelve’.

He acted as treasurer (John 13:29) and there is no hint of anything unusual until John 12:4–6. It seems unlikely that the other disciples were aware of this at the time and probably John is writing with the benefit of hindsight.

Betrayer

Some have suggested that Judas betrayed Jesus in order to get the revolution moving. But there is no hint of this in the New Testament. He comes across as more interested in the money.

Luke and John tell us that Satan was behind his betrayal (Luke 22:3–6; John 13:2,27). Jesus recognised it but saw it as the way in which, despite the action of Satan, God’s plans would be fulfilled.

Death

It soon became obvious to Judas that whatever his intentions had been he had got it wrong. He attempted to salve his conscience by returning the money, but the priests had what they wanted and were not interested in the plight of Judas, although they took the money and bought a field.

According to Matthew 27:3–10 Judas then went and hanged himself. According to Acts 1:18 Judas bought the field and died there. While it is difficult to reconcile these accounts it is not impossible.

Judas is a continual reminder of the danger of trying to follow Jesus on our own terms, and without submitting to his direction.

John Grayston


1 Some early manuscripts of John 6:71, 12:4, 13:2,26 and 14:22 add a reference to Judas being from Kerioth.


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  • Song: God only wise
  • Composer: Eoghan Heaslip & Nick Herbert
  • Artist: Eoghan Heaslip
  • Album: Wonderful Story
  • Publisher: Survivor Music
  • Copyright: Copyright © 2008 Thankyou Music
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Come to Jesus
Nathan Fellingham
Copyright © 2009 Phat music
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.kingswayshop.com




Comments
  • Rachael Hampton | Monday, 15 May 2017

    V64. Jesus knew from the beginning that Judas would betray Him. He spent a long night alone with the Father before choosing the twelve. As the names were revealed, perhaps character traits were revealed too. And yet Jesus went ahead with the plan, and chose Judas. All through those three years He would treat Him with the same respect, affection and love He gave to each of His followers. Probably He knew what Judas himself didn't know, at least for most of the ministry years. When and why did Judas' heart become false and deceitful, I wonder. Many do become offended with God when faith is challenged by circumstances. Jesus, You know more about us than we know ourselves, keep us humble before Your mystery, and unshakable in our love for you. Amen.

  • Rachael Hampton | Monday, 15 May 2017

    Welcome HELEN to this loving community. That's good news FRANK, thanking God with you. Good to have you back BARBARA, with a lovely story and helpful comment, as always. OAKLEY, glad you are enjoying your read-aloud read-through, and thank you so much for that clearly expressed explanation of the 'in between' position on the Communion elements, I have heard 'Word of faith' preachers teach about taking Communion in this way, though privately, which will differ from what some churches teach.

  • David Forbes | Tuesday, 16 May 2017

    i take it this passage refers back to yrsterdays which ive just now commented on as I was extremely busy yesterday. the disciples were I think were referring to the blood and bread declaration by Jesus. i didnt find the commentary dud justice to that theme yesterday. hence I needed to listen to it again today and with a days hindsight I became aware of that. somegimescGods word to us doesn't click because we have so much already in our heads and we seem to cling to the commentators words .. yesterday that was true for me as I've been fircedcto consider the Lords supper more tham usually lately. today's reading focuses on the effect of Jesus s words on his body ..bread and blood ..wine ..to the disciples ears. confusion and incredulity. how would they have guessed jesus was really going to be sacrificed and the significance of that for not only them but for the world it led to disllbief and some turning from Jesus like notoriously Judas. ..while others seemed prepared to give Him the benefit of the doubt apparently .. I.e."who else do we have ". this brings us to appreciate the histority of the text .. T this point in time we would probably have behaved the same. being actually a historic document adds to the reliability of those documents. it's not a fairy tale but Jesus was a historical person who showed us the way to the Father, claimed to be sent by the Father and mercifully made the way possible for not just the disciples .. bit for us who believe in Him ..to be saved from the wrath of God and see Him as the God of love and mercy.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Tuesday, 16 May 2017

    v61 This scripture, as well as Matthew 15:12, shows that people will be offended by the Gospel. As much as possible, however, we should make sure that it is not we who are offensive. But we cannot labour under the deception that everyone will receive the Gospel even if the truth was presented properly. We know that Jesus represented His Father perfectly, and yet most people rejected His message. In these two instances when Jesus realized He had offended the listeners, He didn’t apologize and try to make concessions to gain their acceptance. Instead, He got harder. This hard message of commitment is not only beneficial to those who receive it, but it serves a dual purpose in that it exposes the “tares among the wheat". If we want to know what spiritual truth is, we must believe the Bible, for it is spirit and life. If we want to be led by the Spirit, then we must follow God’s Word. If we want to hear from the Spirit of God, then we must listen to what God says in His Word. The Spirit (Holy Spirit) and the Word (Jesus, John 1:1) are one.

  • Deborah Harding | Tuesday, 16 May 2017

    Hello everyone, this is my first time commenting. David Forbes I agree with you, I felt there was more that could have been said about yesterday's passage. It's the element of human sacrifice which would have also been offensive to Jesus' audience. The absence of human sacrifice was one thing that marked the Israelites as different from surrounding nations. So speaking of Himself in terms of a sacrifice would have been offensive to His listeners and would have encouraged them to dismiss Him and His words.

  • Angela Munday | Tuesday, 16 May 2017

    How marvellous that God has led us to believe in His Son, Jesus; what a miracle! We, believers, are in God's family; we are brothers and sisters who share everything and only seek what is good to support each other........"Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him." Father God, help us to persevere when difficulties seem to overwhelm us; when one of Your family is suffering then we all share the pain. Help us in our caring. Amen.

  • Adam Julians | Tuesday, 16 May 2017

    So some followers take offense to Jesus' teaching and he says one of the disciples is a devil. So yes I couldn't put it better than Gilvin has just done about offense of the gospel but being at peace with everyone wherever possible. Bearing in mind of course what Jesus said also as a rebuke about diligently searching the scriptures and neglecting his teaching. So we listen to God as the Holy Spirit interprets the scriptures capturing every thought and making it obedient to Jesus. And then when speaking, doing so as if God were speaking - when serving, doing do in the strength God provides. Racheal, you wrote "many do become offended with God when faith is challenged by circumstances." Indeed and I listened to a sermon on Sunday which talks about "take it or leave it Christianity" along that same line. Of course this is not restricted to the church.

  • Hilary Yarde Martin | Tuesday, 16 May 2017

    I was reminded of the song "I am the bread of life" . Wonderful words....so simple....straight out of John's gospel though I remember "No can can come to me unless the Father draw him" but otherwise lovely version at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CRMbh8ViUI

  • Linda Penrose | Tuesday, 16 May 2017

    Welcome DEBORAH

  • Barbara Sabin | Tuesday, 16 May 2017

    How amazing that God chose us to be his children, to believe His Word and be filled with His Spirit. There are many who leave the Church but they do not necessarily stop believing, they often are immature Christians who leave because of disagreements with other immature Christians and also we have to accept there are Pharisees in every Church too who are challenging to Christians. We have as Adam says to 'take captive every thought' words cannot be put back that are often said instead of being thought. 'A still tongue makes a wise head' God in His great love rescued us. : This song is sung to the tune Blessed Assurance When you feel weakest, dangers surround, Subtle temptations, troubles abound, Nothing seems hopeful, nothing seems glad, All is despairing, everything sad: Chorus Keep on believing, Jesus is near; Keep on believing, there's nothing to fear; Keep on believing, this is the way; Faith in the night as well as the day. If all were easy, if all were bright, Where would the cross be, and where the fight? But in the hardness, God gives to you Chances of proving that you are true. God is your wisdom, God is your might, God's ever near you, guiding aright; He understands you, knows all you need; Trusting in him you'll surely succeed. Let us press on then, never despair, Live above feeling, victory's there; Jesus can keep us so near to him That nevermore our faith shall grow dim.

  • David Chipchase | Tuesday, 16 May 2017

    Terrific song, Barbara. Thank you. Currently very appropriate for me.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Tuesday, 16 May 2017

    Travelling home thinking on that verse to take every thought captive and make it obey Christ and knowing we speak to ourselves at 1500 wpm so how is it possible. Those who know the truth must confront error with the weapon we’ve been given, the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). That is difficult or I should say impossible for Christians who don't believe in the inherent word of God.

  • David Chipchase | Tuesday, 16 May 2017

    Explore; "If we’ve been involved with a church for a while we’ll know people who at one time seemed to be running the race of faith with perseverance but sadly turned away". In the 10 months or so I have been involved with WL, I have noted names who fit this criteria; Christina, Richard, Lloyd, Gayle and my two Cathy and Rowan. And then there are Mark and Jordan who we pray would just give "the race of faith" a go. Apologies for all those I have missed. This is a particularly appropriate bible reading to inspire prayer for these people. How about it?

  • David Chipchase | Tuesday, 16 May 2017

    And let's add Joyce, Jonathan and Maddy to the give the race of faith a go list.

  • Adam Julians | Tuesday, 16 May 2017

    Inherent word of God. I see what you did there Gilvin. Of course every believer's body is a temple of the Spirit. The only way I know to capture every thought and make it obedient to Chris is that advocated in Christian meditation. We do this and we demolish pretenses and arguments that set themselves up against the knowledge of God.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Tuesday, 16 May 2017

    Think I meant inerrant!

  • Barbara Sabin | Tuesday, 16 May 2017

    When we look at the Christian armour we need first to put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness fastens on to the belt of truth, we put on shoes to walk in peace, we pick up the shield of faith and hold it in front of our breastplate to ward off the fiery darts , then we put on our helmet of salvation make sure it is firmly buckled under our chin knowing that we are the child of God when we put on the helmet say out loud' I am a child of God' then finally the sword of the Spirit is in a sheath and it swings from the belt of truth, we have to draw it from it's sheath it is double edged to offend and defend, then we are ready for the day which lies ahead . Prayer is vital..Pray at all times I could feel that I was carried by my prayer partners when I recently saw my Consultant. I promise prayer for this site and all who comment. God will do the rest.

  • Barbara Sabin | Tuesday, 16 May 2017

    DAVID CHIPCHASE Here is a lovely Chorus for you at this difficult time He holds my hand Jesus holds my hand Safely to heaven He leads the way He is my keeper from day to day He holds my hand Jesus holds my hand The road may be long But my Saviour is strong And He holds my hand

  • Adam Julians | Tuesday, 16 May 2017

    Inherent worked well. After all we have inherited something precious as children of God. What father if a child were hungry and asked for food would not give him fish to eat and how much more will God give the Holy Spirit, a spirit of power, love and sound mind to those of his children who asked for him.

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