Why Do We Follow Jesus?
Today's daily Bible reading from John 6 is a transition text in John’s account of the ministry of Jesus. It is also one of those texts that demands that we question why it is that we are disciples of Christ in the first place. Jesus has just performed his most public and celebrated (it's in all four gospels) miracles. His support is now at its highest point— the people want to make him king whether he wants to be or not (6:15). Jesus evades this crowd in a rather dramatic fashion (6:16-24), but they are persistent and pursue him to the other side of Galilee.
Jesus knows why this crowd is persistently dogging him-- they want free bread (6:26). He uses that to transition into teaching a spiritual lesson about the bread of life (6:33-35). and it is right here that Jesus loses much of his audience. He starts talking about the Father’s will (6:35-40) and demanding they eat His flesh and drink his blood (6:52-58). Remember, this crowd wants to force him to be king and is following him only because he is giving them free food. But Jesus wasn't interested in making those the point of his ministry. His will was to do the will of the Father (6:38).
Question: Are many who follow Jesus today doing so because they are trying to make him king (politics) and want him to give them free food (material things)? When people who aren't Christians stumble across people talking about Jesus on TV, what message is usually being touted? Why is it that people follow Christ, at least in the minds of people who don't?
Politics: One of the biggest complaints non-Christians (especially young people) have about the church is that it is too political. Evangelical Christians are known for a particular political point of view and agenda. Are there still disciples who still want to make Jesus an earthly, political “king” even though Jesus is clear that he had no desire to be one.
- Food: The most visible media presentation of the church that people see is the “Health-and-Wealth” idea that touts Jesus as power to give you stuff that you “name and claim” in his name. Faith in Christ is the power to have what you want… even though Jesus called the crowd’s bluff when he saw they were only interested in free food.
To a politically and materialistically motivated crowd, Jesus taught and demanded “hard things” (6:61) that caused many to stop following him. He wanted those who were his disciples to be so out of a desire for the things that he was about. He wants us to be so consumed with him that it is as if we eat his flesh and drink his blood. Just as Jesus came to do the will of the One who send him, so we are to do the will of the one who sent us. We need to make sure that we're following Christ’s agenda and not our own.