These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.John 6:59-71
It should not shock us today that churches who seek to follow the Lord and focus on the simplicity of the preached word have much smaller congregations than the popular megachurches. As soon as Jesus stopped giving away free stuff and started preaching, the huge crowds dispersed and most people went back home.
We can certainly bring in larger crowds by feeding to the fleshly desires of personal comfort and entertainment. But just because we have a bigger congregation doesn’t mean we are doing the right thing. Football stadiums can seat over 100,000 people but they are driven by nothing but human desire and pleasure. The true indication of an obedient church is how closely it follows the New Testament pattern of worship and doctrine of salvation.
Not only did the mass of people go away but some of Jesus’ closest disciples turned away from following Him. He even asked His closest twelve if they would forsake Him too!
Peter’s response to Jesus question should be taken to heart. He and the other disciples showed time and time again that they did not fully understand everything that Jesus said or did, but they knew He was the Christ. Jesus’ teaching was the bread of life their souls needed. We may not always understand how the Lord is working in our lives. We also may not understand very much about the Bible. But we can be assured of this – Jesus is life. We will never increase our understanding away from Him and His church. We will only get more confused and fall further into sinful passions.
When we are close to the Lord by devoting ourselves to Him through a local assembly, we will conclude with Peter, “Where else could we go?”
Living below in this old sinful world, Hardly a comfort can afford;
Striving alone to face temptation sore,Where could I go but to the Lord?
Where could I go? Oh, where could I go
Seeking a refuge for my soul?
Needing a friend to save me in the end,
Where could I go but to the Lord?from the hymn “Where Could I Go?” by J.B. Coats