Monday, June 3, 2013

Eat my Flesh, Drink my blood - why do you follow Jesus?

We all know the story where Jesus feeds the 5000 people (more like 15,000 with women and children) found in John 6, Mark 6, and Matthew 14.  By the time Jesus does this great miracle, He has become a very popular religious teacher. In fact, there are thousands of people who claim to be His disciples and follow Him around, hanging on His every word.  These are the loyal followers who we see out in the wilderness in John 6, willing to skip a meal or two just to be with Jesus. Up to that point, Jesus's sermons have been pretty nice, full of words about love and acceptance and morality. He's healed a ton of people and chastised the leading religious leaders of the day, which I'm sure pleased many Jews who simply couldn't follow all their rules!   Who wouldn't follow a guy like Jesus? They thought He was the long-waited-for Messiah, the one who would rescue them from the Romans. Besides, he healed all their diseases too! And then it got even! Now, He performs a miracle right in front of their eyes and fills their hungry bellies with food!  Okay, where do I sign up? This Jesus guy is great.

So, Jesus feeds them all, and then sends His 12 disciples across the Sea of Galilee so He can spend some time praying. But the crowd is still looking for Him. Everyone is wondering where He went. They want to be with Him but He's nowhere to be found. So, they circle the sea and look for Him on the other side where they saw His disciples sail toward. Well, you know the story, a storm kicks up, Jesus comes walking on the water, Peter joins Him, then Jesus gets in the boat and they are immediately sent to the other side of the lake.

. . .and when they found Him on the other side of the lake they asked Him, 'Rabbi, how did you get here?'
"Jesus answered them saying, 'Truly, truly I say to you, you seek me NOT because you saw the signs,
but because you ate of the bread and were filled.'" (John 6:22-26)

Jesus never sugar coats things. He gets right to the heart of the matter. He wanted these people to look at their hearts and their motives.  Perhaps He would say something similar to us today, such as:

'Truly, truly I say to you, you want this new position at work not so you can give more money to those in need or influence more people for Me, but because you want the extra money and the boost to your ego it would bring."

'Truly, truly I say to you, you aren't going to the Wednesday night service to receive from me, you are going because you hope I will notice the extra effort and be reminded of that prayer request you want answered."

'Truly, truly I say to you, you aren't fasting just to draw closer to Me, you are fasting to also lose 10 pounds, or to appear religious in front of your friends and pastor."

"Truly, truly I say to you, you don't read your Bible and pray every morning because you want to have a relationship with Me, but because you believe I will answer your prayers and give you what you want." 

Truly, truly I say to you...fill in the blank. We each have our own motives for things. But how many of us stop and take the time to analyze just what they are. If we are believers, the Holy Spirit will convict us of our bad motives if we are listening to Him, listening to that still small voice pointing out our dark hearts.

A few years ago, I started fasting every Monday for my kids who didn't know the Lord. I starved all day and spent time praying for their salvation.  Fasting is a good thing, and my desire for my kids to be saved is a good thing that God also wills, right? So, it should have been great!  I did this for years and years until one day the Holy Spirit asked me why I was fasting. I said "Because I want my kids to be saved."  And He said that God is not taking deposits to that account.. in other words, God is not some ATM machine where I preform some religious task and then expect Him to come through for me!  What would happen when my kids got saved? Wouldn't I then take the credit for years of fasting?  God doesn't work that way. I wanted my kids to be saved so badly that I had gotten caught up in works, trying to do it myself, or force God to do it because He saw my fasting every Monday. Man, that was a shock. I immediately repented and now only fast when He calls me to or to just get closer to Him.

Back to the story:  After the people find Jesus, and He reveals their motives, He tries to explain to them the spiritual meaning behind the miracle of the loaves and fish. He wants them to understand that He is the spiritual bread from Heaven, far more important than physical food, that the bread He offers gives them eternal life. But they don't get it and start arguing among themselves. They still want the physical bread, not the spiritual bread.

So, Jesus tests them a little more:
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.  John 6:53

They found this statement offensive. Jesus's teaching was no longer tickling their ears with pleasant things. He wasn't providing food for them anymore or healing them, He was now requiring something of them in return. 

From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.  Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”  John 6:66-67

Notice it says disciples, not followers or groupies. These were people who had committed themselves to following Jesus.  But when the going got rough, the blessings stopped, and there was no more food, they left. 

I honestly believe that most of the people who call themselves disciples of Jesus today are just like these people Jesus encountered. Their motives are all wrong. They want the goodies, the blessings, the teachings about love and acceptance and grace. They don't want to hear about commitment, submission, suffering. And once the going gets rough, they take off. 

We all can fall trap to bad motives. Let's face it, our fallen hearts are evil. But let's not deafen our ears
to the Holy Spirit trying to show us our bad motives. Let's not cringe and close our ears to His warnings, just because we don't want to face the facts of our dark hearts. Open your ears and listen, then repent, and learn.

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it .  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matt 7:13 NKJV


  1. Monday, June 3rd,
    "Morning, MaryLu."
    Loved this word today, MaryLu ... excellent blog and message !
    As Jesus tells us what we "need to hear", and not what we 'want' to hear ... I expect this in our Pastors today, too. Too prevalent are the Pastors who -- 1) don't want to offend anyone in the Name of Jesus; and, 2) just want to 'tickle our ears'.
    Jesus called a spade, a spade ... He speaks truthfully, honestly, and plainly for "all" to hear -- if people are listening with their "spiritual -- eyes, ears and hearts open".
    We are told in the Bible, to "seek His face", (not, His hands -- for only what He can give to us, etc).
    I fear that many people today, are going through that "wide and broad gate that leads to destruction".
    "Oh Lord .... please help me to remain faithful and true, and remain on that narrow gate that leads to Life".
    Thanks MaryLu ... a truly excellent word/message in due season, today !!!
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda

  2. Ouch! What are my motives?? Sadly I fear they are not what they should be. Not an easy thing to admit. I put myself on a pedestal for things I do or don't do and pat myself on the back, but it's troubling to know that God sees and knows what my heart and mind are truly feeling.

    Thanks for this dose of Godly medicine without the sugar.

  3. Hi ladies, I know this was a tough post to read, but I often feel led to say certain things even if they wont be popular. Motives are something God has been dealing with me on, and it ain't pretty. But He is the great physician and He can heal my dark heart.. and all of our hearts if we are willing to let Him dig deep. Hugs!

  4. This the type of post that we all need to hear! Too many of us believe that if we can somehow tip the scales in our favor, then we will gain salvation, blessings, favor, etc. But that is not at all how it works. I know I have been guilty of this! Thank you for the reminder, MaryLu! My sinful heart is always ready to try to allow me to think I can somehow tip the scales, and I never can! Lord Jesus, have mercy on us sinners!

  5. Thank God, Emma, that He does have mercy on us poor sinners!! Even our righteous deeds are nothing but filthy rags.. we are in desperate need of His salvation!