WILL YE ALSO GO AWAY
John 6:66-69 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.
His discourse, previous to the lesson text, included His teaching of the spiritual nature of His flesh and blood. He said to the multitude: verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him (John 6:53-56). This was Jesus' teaching, referred to in verse 59, as He taught in the synagogue ...in Capernaum.
It is evident that more than Jesus' twelve apostles had assembled in the synagogue and heard His New Covenant teachings. Upon hearing Jesus' teaching on the spiritual significance of His body and blood, many of His followers assembled on that day came to the conclusion that it was too extreme, too difficult to understand, and too complicated to digest. They said it was a hard saying, that is, it was unpleasant and disgusting to hear; it was a doctrine to which they could not understand and accept. Because of this, they asked this rhetorical question: who can hear it (Vs. 60)? The all-knowing eye of Jesus noticed their unreceptive murmuring, then He asked: Doth this offend you (Vs. 61)?
The ascension of Jesus back into heaven was a marvelous event. Pointing to this event, Jesus says that if symbolically eating and drinking His flesh and blood offends you, what will be your reaction when ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before (Vs. 62)? Here, Jesus could have included other events that were difficult to humanly believe, for instance, His virgin birth, or His death, burial, and resurrection. Immediately Jesus gives further explanation to the doctrine He taught them about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing (Vs. 63a). The fact that He will return back into heaven from whence He originally came should assure the doubting multitude that His body and His blood were not to be literally taken as their food and drink. It is the spirit that makes one alive, not the flesh. To feed upon Jesus means that it is a spiritual feast that is accomplished by faith in Him as the promised Messiah and the Son of God. That faith is to be established by hearing and believing the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life, that is, they are the source of the hope of eternal salvation (Vs. 63b).
The omniscience of Jesus Christ is demonstrated in verse 64. He knew the hearts of all those present that heard the inspired doctrine that He preached to them. Not only did He know all that believe not His teaching, but He also knew the one who should betray Him, the apostle, Judas Iscariot. The word "should," to some translators, carries with it the meaning that Judas was "predestined" to deliver up Jesus to His persecutors. However, the word "would" is a better translation. Jesus knew Judas, acting of his own volition, "would" give in to his lustful, innate desire for the money bribe offered by Jewish zealots that sought His death. Of this, Judas found himself guilty, which resulted in his self-imposed death. Just as noted in verse 44, so it is stated in verse 65, that all men and women of the world are freely given the inspired word of God, and by it each believing person is drawn to accept Christ Jesus as their Savior.
The prophetic declarations Jesus preached to the Jews gathered in this synagogue were rejected by most of the Jews of Capernaum. Misled by false interpretations of the Jewish prophets and the Mosaic Law, these Jews would not accept God's plan of eternal salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus' teaching, for the most part, fell on deaf ears and calloused consciences. Therefore, from that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him. It is evident from the verses that follow; none of these disciples that abandoned Jesus were His twelve apostles. Faith was lacking in those that turned away and left Jesus. Many, for various reasons, began to follow the teaching of Jesus. Yet when tempted by the world, or when faced with a certain Christian teaching that they disliked, or were unable to comprehend, they abandon the Savior, ceased their journey with Him, and were consumed by the Satan-inspired allure of the world. How tragic!
There were probably many men and women that did not abandoned Jesus as some did according to verse 66. And this was very commendable. However, it seems that because some did leave Him, Jesus was prompted to turn to His apostles and ask them this question: Will ye also go away? It's as if He asked them: Do you truly believe that I am the promised Messiah and the Son of God; and are there any requirements to follow the teaching of God through Me that you do not believe or cannot endure? By his nature the outspoken apostle, 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.
No doubt, because New Testament Christianity had not yet been fully revealed at this time, Jesus' apostles became doubtful and occasionally wavered from their service to Him. We find examples of this throughout the gospel writings. However, they believed that there was no other source of salvation; no one else to turn to for answers to their questions about the promised eresurrection, and of life after death. Yet, because of their faith that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, they continued to follow Him, believing that in due time God's plan of eternal salvation would be completely revealed to them.
We look back at those that abandoned Jesus with a self-righteousness attitude, for whatever the reason it may have been that their faith waned, and we criticize their actions that caused them to return to the ways of the world. Yet, how often do we, other members of our families, friends and neighbors, and other fellow Christians, lose faith, become indifferent, and also go away from our Savior for lack of strong faith. We, too, should be looking to Jesus and asking, Lord, to whom shall we go?
Again, through His all-knowing wisdom and power, Jesus recognized Judas Iscariot as the one that should betray Him, saying that he was controlled by one of Satan's devils. Let each of us learn this from the lesson text. When we leave the Lord, we leave it because of Satan's worldly influence. Judas Iscariot, one of the original twelve disciples, had the same choice as the other apostles - to go with Jesus Christ or follow Satan. He chose Satan and went away with him; the other eleven chose the Lord and remained faithful to Him and His cause. The question to us is: will ye also go away?