But [still] some of you fail to believe and trust and have faith. For Jesus knew from the first who did not believe and had no faith and who would betray Him and be false to Him. And He said, This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted him [unless he is enabled to do so] by the Father. After this, many of His disciples drew back (returned to their old associations) and no longer accompanied Him. Jesus said to the Twelve, Will you also go away? [And do you too desire to leave Me?
John 6:64-67, Amplified
When Abraham Lincoln assumed presidency over a fragile nation, there were 33 states in the Union. Five months later, 27 remained. Virginia, birthplace of seven United States presidents, was expected to tag along. The new president had said he’d rather be assassinated than to see a single star pulled from the flag, but the “great experiment” called America seemed to be coming apart at the seams.
“We will NOT have this man to be king over us!”
Would it, could it, survive?
That’s how many “followed” Jesus long before there was Twitter. They hung on His every word. He spoke their lingo and they liked that His simple lifestyle ran counter to the other rabbis and professional ministers who flouted, flaunted, fleeced and derided them. The religious dudes made them feel condemned. Hopeless. This man was different. Though a holy man, He was not religious and untouchable. It was as common to see him at a dinner party with undesirables as it was to see Him mixing it up with theologues and seminarians. If Jesus was a Facebook button, they would ‘like’ Him…
Oh! And the miracles?
Icing on the cake, baby.
Blindness, gone. Demons, gone. Leprosy, gone. My uncle who has never walked? Saw him skipping through town the other day.
Hungry? Just go see this Guy. He can fix you up.
This was pretty much the climate of the day. For a season. If there was such a thing as a vote, and a vote were held, this Guy was a shoo-in for King. As long as He kept them in bread.
Then one day, just like that, the honeymoon ended. It started out all right. Word spread that the Rabbi was giving a sermon in a synagogue. Don’t know where? Just follow your neighbors. They know someone who knows someone who knows where to go. Don’t bother packing a lunch. It’s a safe bet that your meal is included.
The air in Capernaum was buzzing and crackling. The synagogue was filled to the gills and it was uncertain if the old church could hold them all. It was probably going to be epic. The man called Jesus might just announce His candidacy for King. Who knows? Anyhow, He’s got my vote.
Anticipation was high. All the whisperings in the crowd had to do with what was on the menu. Would quail just magically appear on plates? Would the sky rain bread?
Instead of working the crowd, the Rabbi’s tone carried a weight, a certain gravity. He seemed deadly serious. No rah-rah. No trumpeted charge. No shmoozing. No campaign promises.
Clearly, it wasn’t going to be: YES WE CAN!
It was more like: Oh no, He didn’t.
So long as it feels like a vacation, a honeymoon, a good meal, a shopping day, a parade, Christmas morning, a cute baby in a rustic manger, a dinner party with friends, or being the center of attention, I’m good. As long as you’re hammering on those people, reading them the riot act, overturning their tables, I’ll go along.
Just don’t put me in Your sermon.
I don’t want to be obsessed with You. I just need You around. It’s cool with me just to know you’re there, especially when I’m hungry. So don’t start talking about a committed relationship. Friends with benefits is all I am looking for.
But You keep talking like this? I’ll un-friend You. I’ll hit the “Unlike” button. That quick. Just you watch.
“You don’t need this world’s food. Be nourished by Me! I Am the source of Life! Unless you worship Me, you will perish!”
Um, really? Aren’t you just a carpenter’s son? I’ll accept you as my personal Baker, but not my personal Savior and Lord. No way. No how.
I’m outta here. I’ll not let this Man be King of me!
Along with just about everybody else. The synagogue empties and a vagabond tumbleweed blows by a small handful of wide-eyed would-be followers huddled in a shadowy corner. A couple of them, too, seem to be contemplating the door.
Jesus eyes them up and down. This is what you signed up for, boys. Are you still with Me?
“Will you also go away?”
He looks them each in the eye, one by one, like a judge polling a jury, waiting for their answer.
They needn’t worry.
The Union won’t dissolve no matter how many left. His flag would lose no stars. My Kingdom is yeast running through the batch of dough, he said. This minor setback only signals the certain triumph to come. There will be many more who will fall away on account of Me…
So I lost a few…we’ll rebuild…as a matter of fact, there’s a woman who is about to be stoned for adultery in Jerusalem. I think I’ll start with her…
He turns. and with an enigmatic smile, calls over His shoulder:
So, boys: You comin’? Or what?