This past Sunday I taught on Jesus feeding the 5,000 and the heated discussion that ensued. It’s shocking to me to see how the crowds’ questions resemble contemporary faith struggles. It’s in the aftermath of this famous miracle that Jesus gets down to the “fine print” of following him.
True followers are interested more in the spiritual than the fleshly. First century fans of Jesus were enthusiastic about the free food and miraculous healings. But when it came down to accepting Jesus for who he was, they became disinterested. That’s what fans do, as long as the team is winning, as long as there is a tangible benefit, they’re in. Jesus said that true followers, on the other hand, look beyond the temporal and seek eternal pursuits.
True followers trust Jesus even when it’s difficult or doesn’t make sense. Jesus said that the work God wants from us is to believe in the one he sent. Trusting Jesus is work. Trusting Jesus is THE work that really matters. And trusting Jesus is HARD work – especially when things aren’t going your way. Jesus told John the Baptist while he sat in prison (and would soon be executed, “God blesses those who do not turn away because of me” (Matthew 11:6). Why that? Because faith is hard work when you’re going through trials and Jesus lets it happen.
True followers recognize that it is only by the grace of God that they are drawn to Jesus. The Jews kept asking Jesus for proof of his authority. They wanted a sign so they could make their own determination as to the validity of his claims to be the Messiah. Jesus told them that it doesn’t work that way. No one comes to Jesus because of their spiritual insight or shrewd discernment of the evidence. That would be spiritually arrogant. We only come to Jesus because God draws us to him. While we certainly have a choice in the matter, we need to recognize it is by grace of God that we seek to follow Jesus.
What’s interesting is that it’s often one of these areas that causes people to walk away from their faith even today. They get caught up pursuing fleshly temptations. Or they can’t believe in a God who would let them suffer like that. Or their spiritual knowledge grows larger than their child-like faith. As we consider the “fine print” from Jesus, may we echo the commitment of the prophet Elisha when it comes to following him, “I’m all in and I’m not ever going back.”
If you missed Sunday’s message from our His Story series, you can view it here: