Interestingly, at the very moment when thousands of people rejected Jesus as their teacher, Simon Peter, in response, acknowledged Jesus was far more than his teacher, saying, “Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:69). Rather than accepting the ideas and expectations handed down for centuries in anticipation of the coming Messiah—hopes centering on a political savior rather than a spiritual One—Peter saw beyond the carnal self-centeredness of typical first century Judaism to see Jesus as He had come to know Him. It remains difficult to imagine that the divine Word, existing in eternity (Jn. 1:1), would chose to dwell among His creation (Jn. 1:14) and thus reveal the spiritual character of God in human form (Jn. 1:18). How could God the Father make this part of His plan (Rom. 5:8-9)? How could Jesus sacrifice so much just to bring the opportunity of salvation to His rebellious creation (Phil. 2:5-8)? Just the mental exercise of attempting to reach back with the mind into eternity before creation and imagine such a possibility should cause us to bow down in great humility and adoration.
But then, returning our thoughts first to that scene of desertion and then to the present, where so many try to place conditions on the Lord as part of agreeing to “follow Him,” the chasm between such two mindsets becomes unfathomable. Yet, “living in the present” is probably part of the problem. As long as we live in the moment, we easily can forget our past sin. When we focus only on present pleasure, we do not concern ourselves with future consequences. If we were simply passing through time, “If the dead do not rise, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!’” (1 Cor. 15:32b). But we are not simply temporal beings, living as animals and passing into nothingness. We are eternal; therefore, so our perspective must be eternal. But there remains a far greater perspective that surpasses even this. Discipleship is about eternity because our Master is of eternity (Jn. 8:58).
The question Jesus posed to the twelve deserves consideration by all who consider discipleship: “Do you also want to go away?” When you find that discipleship requires more than you originally expected, will you turn your back on Jesus? When Jesus requires not only your passing allegiance but your complete obedience, will you stand with Him or follow the crowd? When Christianity demands that you change your life, change your friendships, and change your entire worldview, will you accept it with humility and work on it diligently or will you walk away, blaming Jesus for what He requires? They may walk back to a former religion. They may return to blatant immorality. They may just compromise and try to have it both ways.
But Jesus only offered one option. He said, very simply, “Follow Me.” Despite what some would tell you, that offer was not extended through a variety of entrances but through one (Jn. 10:9). He did not offer a set of soft standards for salvation; He offered the truth (Jn. 8:31-32). He did not come to show everyone how to remain satisfied with their lives as they presently existed; He came to offer a better life (Jn. 10:10)—eternal life (1 Jn. 2:25). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). As Peter recognized, there is no other place to go (Acts 4:12).