From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. – John 6:66
Jesus taught His disciples and the people of Capernaum in their synagogue, one day that anyone who desires eternal life must eat the flesh of His body and drink His blood. They didn’t understand that He spoke of believing in Him as the Messiah and receiving salvation by grace through faith. They thought that He’d gone mad. Many of those who had been following Jesus became offended and decided to follow Him no longer. The Bible says that He knew who believed in Him and who didn’t. Those that walked away didn’t believe, but the 12 did.
Does it really matter what label you wear on your chest to identify who you are in Messiah? The people who turned on Jesus and quit following Him are known to us by John as disciples! One definition of a disciple is a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another; follower. So, a disciple could be nothing more than a student of another person or one who follows the teachings of another person. There really is no spiritual indication that being a disciple of Jesus meant the person was a true believer in Jehovah. It’s obvious from this passage in John that labels are just that – labels! – or an ID tag.
Many people, today, call themselves Christians, believers, followers of Jesus, or His disciple, but does that prove who they really are? Jesus, being God the Son incarnate, knew who were really His and those who were not. His divine knowledge gave Him an edge because He operated in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We, those who really are true to God, may not operate in this gift and would have an otherwise difficult time determining who is a true child of God.
However, Jesus did not leave us totally defenseless and unable to discern the Truth. He would teach elsewhere that we don’t judge people by their looks but by the fruit (actions) they produce in their lives. Good trees yield good fruit while bad trees yield bad fruit. A bad tree will never yield good fruit. Thus, we observe how people behave, listen to their words, and make mental note of it. These keys will reveal to us the true nature of a person.
Jesus also taught elsewhere that from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. It isn’t what goes in a man who defiles him, but it’s what garbage comes out of his foul mouth because in the heart lurks evil. We have such tools to discern who really loves God and who doesn’t. Now, I am not saying that Godly people won’t go and do or say something that would totally throw off a person’s perception. We are humans, and we do grossly err from time to time, even the best of God’s kids can rebel (don’t kid yourself – you’ve done it, too).
I’ve said all that to boil it down to this one thing. Let’s take a good, hard look at ourselves and make sure that we are not deceiving ourselves. A true disciple of Jesus will count the cost of serving Him. Salvation is a gift from God that’s FREE TO RECEIVE, but it WILL COST you everything in life. Are we portraying ourselves to others as goody-two-shoes, hypocrites, or the like? What kind of speech emanates from our mouths – filth and foul or grace seasoned with salt?
Are we loving God with all our hearts? And, loving our neighbors as ourselves? What kind of message about God’s grace and mercy and love are we sending to the world? Are we being salt that causes a person to savor the Word of God and want to eat His flesh and drink His blood? Are we shedding the Light of Jesus in a dark world that will cause the lost to see the rescue station of God’s hope where they can find rest, relief, and life everlasting?
Finally, are you really a true follower, disciple, student, believer, and child of Jesus? OR, are you deceived and don’t even know it? How do you know that you really are God’s child? Do you have His seal of the Holy Spirit upon you? What has your relationship with Jesus cost you – everything, something, anything? If it’s not everything, you might want to recount it! you may think you’re saved and not even realize that you aren’t! How disastrous would that be! Do you even have a personal relationship with Jesus, the Son of God? Have you put your hand to the plow but turned back, as did the disciples in this passage? Do you love Jesus more than everyone else including a spouse or even children?
Have you loved Jesus more than everything else? Have you forsaken everything for Him? Have you bore your cross and come after Him? Have you started working for Him and not quit? Are you not offended because of Jesus? THEN you are really His disciple, who will not shrink away in the face of adversity or a challenge to your faith. We are to persevere and endure to the end; those are the ones who are saved!
(PS. It’s not enough to just believe in Jesus because even the demons believe – and tremble!)
Father, I do persevere unto the end because I know that Your seal of the Holy Spirit is upon me! I am not offended because of Jesus, for without Him, I am nothing, have nothing, and can do nothing! I don’t shrink back or away from You or Your calling on my life. There are too many dying, lost people in the world to whom I must declare Your good works and be a witness of Jesus, as well as invite them into Your kingdom and family. Let Your fire consume me and burn away any chaff that may exist. I will produce good fruit for the glory of You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.