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Jesus Thins Out the Followers

Briefing: Police SWAT teams are specialized groups of highly motivated and committed officers. As a young officer at Dallas, I had a desire to be on the SWAT team until I looked into the requirements. I was not as motivated and committed as I thought.

Dispatch (Assignment): Read John 6:25-59.

On the Street: Have you heard the joke about the two Russian soldiers who kicked in the door of a small house church? They rushed inside where all the people are gathered for the church service and raise their rifles. One of the soldiers yelled, “If you are not a Christian then you may leave”. Half of the people jumped up and ran out the door. The other soldier shut the door and said to the preacher, “The hypocrites are gone, you can start preaching now”.

In this story there is a crowd that has been following Jesus. It is important to remember who the people of this crowd were. These were the people Jesus fed on the other side of the lake. They were the people who were originally following Him because He healed the sick. Jesus had shown His power to heal and create food with just a word. This was the mob who wanted to take Him by force and make Him the leader of their revolutionary army. They did not understand who He was or the purpose He had for being here.

Jesus wants this crowd to know who He is and what they must do to be His followers. It is good for us to put ourselves in their shoes and hear Jesus.

This crowd was so blinded by their desire for an earthly king that they missed seeing God. Jesus told them in John 6:26 (NIV), “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs”. In John 6:30 (NIV) we see them ask Jesus, “What miraculous sign then will you give?” Did they not hear what He just said? Do you see the irony in this? They don’t want Jesus to be The Messiah; they want Him to be a military general.

Jesus tries to get them to understand the difference between the earthly king they desired and the God King He is. They bring up the earthly/physical bread that was eaten in the desert, Jesus tells them He is the true bread of life. As the story progresses the tension and tempers build. Jesus’ description of Himself as the bread of life, and how you must partake of the bread, gets more intense.

In John 6:53 (NIV) Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” Many people who had been following Him began to leave. Only the true believers stayed. The disciples who were committed and called stayed with Him. The crowd of followers thinned out.

Jesus is not driving away true believers. He tells us in John 6:37 (NIV), “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

Are you committed and motivated to follow Jesus? If men put a gun to your head and demand you denounce Christ and your faith, will you trust God and confess Him as Lord?

Investigational Resources: For more information on the bread of life read Luke 22:19-23.

Officer Safety Principle: Make the decision to be a committed, trusting, faithful follower of Jesus Christ.

from The Gospel of John Through the Eyes of a Cop
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
Click here to check out the entire Through the Eyes of a Cop series!