#7 Problem solving. "As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore." [John 6:66] [and no - don't think too much about the 666 thing....]
People loved Jesus...at first. Jesus' public ministry began at His baptism and lasted approximately 3 1/2 years. In the beginning most people were enthralled with Jesus. He spoke with authority. He cast out demons. He healed the sick. He preached the Gospel to the poor. He rebuked the religious leaders. Jesus truly set people free. And there were many times that throngs of people simply surrounded Jesus so that He barely had a place to walk.
But there were times in His ministry where what He said truly upset people; and people stopped following Him. John 6:66 is just such a time. Jesus the day before this verse feeds the five thousand - and the people are ecstatic. He goes in a boat and goes to the other side of the lake. The people the next day wake up and do not see Jesus - so they go searching. They find Him. They want more, "bread" from Him. But Jesus does not feed their belly. He begins to talk about how He is the bread of life. He tells them in v.53, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day." This was too much. Eat His flesh? Drink His blood? What is this guy talking about? The people were confused and they did not like what Jesus had to say.
Then Jesus topped all this off with this statement, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father." [v.65] Many of the disciples had enough. They left Him. They walked away. Jesus was claiming to be God. Jesus was claiming to be the source of eternal life. Jesus was claiming that His blood and flesh were real food and drink. This was too much for some - so they left. And the amazing thing is this - Jesus let them leave. He did not run after them. He simply looked at the 12 left and asked, "You do not want to go away also, do you?" And Peter famously answers, "Lord, to whom shall we go? you have the words of eternal life."
Now, this is all backdrop to where I want to go; which is this. Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of the world. It is He that came, died, and rose again. He saves. He has solved our deepest problem - our sin and our need for eternal life. And even after Jesus did all this people still walk away. People still reject Him. Many people still will not listen.
What does this say to me? I will tell you. Being a pastor can sometimes be difficult on the soul. I want so desperately for people to love the Lord and love each other. I want so desperately for people to get along and be united together. This desire is good; but sometimes I take it too far. I cannot make people live the way of righteousness. I cannot make them embrace godliness. If not even the Son of God got them all....certainly I can't either. Jesus was content with knowing that all those that the Father had given Him He would have. He was secure in the love of the Father.
Today I was talking to a wise pastor who said to me, "Chris - you can die for people's sins...but you cannot rise for them." What he meant was, "the problems of people can kill you if you let them...but you're not the Savior - only He can truly solve people's deepest needs."
I must come to a conclusion as a pastor - loving people does not automatically equate to solving everyone's problems. I cannot do it. All I can do is speak the truth in love and believe that the Lord loves me - and everyone else - even more than I do. Some will walk away from the Lord, and that's not my fault. They did it to Jesus, and He is supremely better at bringing people to Him than I am. The same goes for you too. Do your duty, that is best, and leave unto the Lord the rest. Amen.