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?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” John 6:66-69
Quite often those of us who claim to be servants of Christ are reluctant to say hard things. Some believers even take a position in which they refuse to do so. But this is a total contradiction of Scripture.
Jesus said many hard things. As He finished speaking to the Jews about partaking of His body and blood, many of those who followed Jesus complained about His teaching. “This is a hard teaching,” they said. “Who can understand it?” (John 6:60). Jesus wasn’t out to win a popularity contest. He was interested in the truth rather than in what people wanted to hear.
The Example of Jesus
Some Christian leaders today refuse to talk about sin or hell. Others won’t use the word “saved” in case they make an unsaved person feel badly. But when we take these positions, we disregard the example of Jesus.
Jesus went out of His way to say things that unsettled people. He could have told the Jews, “Let me explain what I mean by eating My flesh and drinking My blood. I don’t mean it literally.” But He didn’t. He wanted the seriousness of the matter to be driven home to His listeners.
The great sin of this century is offending somebody. The problem with this perspective, though, is that it comes from people thinking completely in the realm of the flesh. Jesus told the Jews, “the flesh profits nothing” (John 6:63). It is the spirit of man that goes on living forever, either in heaven or in hell. We have an obligation to the realm of the Spirit. If we think in terms of the flesh, we will inevitably fail in our task to reach people with the gospel.
The Gospel Is An Offense
Here is the reality: the gospel is an offense. The apostles came along preaching the gospel and penning the New Testament, and in so doing they directly opposed the Roman system, since Caesar had usurped the place of God. Of course, Peter and Paul and the other disciples were in trouble most of the time. But if we try to avoid offense in preaching the gospel, inevitably we will have to deny the message itself. We should rather be persecuted than deny the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We don’t want to offend people unnecessarily, of course. We’re not to go out and arrogantly tell people, “Hey, you’re wrong. Your lifestyle will bring judgment upon you.” The Bible tells us, “Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear [respect]” (1 Peter 3:15). We need to deliver the message in love, although the message, even given in love, quite often will offend.
There is not a sadder verse in the entire Bible than this: “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66). Many of Jesus’ disciples could not endure what He was saying.
Words of Eternal Life
“Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’ But Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You [and You alone] have the words of eternal life’” (John 6:67–68). That was the right answer, Peter. And it’s true for us. Where could we possibly go? Where else can we find forgiveness of sins? Where else can we receive eternal life? Nowhere.
Peter summed up his conclusion: “We have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:69). Jesus’ sayings are hard, but He alone has the words of eternal life.
We must never be rude or arrogant or prideful when speaking the truth, but we must never be afraid either, even if it causes some to be offended. Our allegiance must be to Jesus first and foremost because eternity is at stake.