I want to preach a sermon series soon called “Zingers.” It will be based on the hard sayings of Jesus. I’ve noticed there is a message of “Hyper Grace” going around that makes Jesus out to be a borderline “Mr. Rogers.” The Jesus I find in the gospels was very nice but He was also very challenging, especially to those very close to Him. He had some hard things to say.
One day Jesus walked into a Jewish temple and preached, “Eat my flesh and drink my blood.” That went over about as awkward as a pregnant pole-vaulter.
Let’s get the picture here: Orthodox Jewish setting, a man claiming to be God’s son is teaching something so controversial that people were out to kill Him. What was the result? Well, even many of His own disciples said, “this is too hard, we can’t do this anymore.” John 6 tells this story well.
As I reflect on my own life and think about how this passage affects me, I notice two things:
1. I want to be obedient to the Father with EVERYTHING He calls me to do.
2. I want to have the same reaction Jesus had when things looked grim around Him. (Not only did Jesus not chase down the disciples that left Him, but He looked directly at His number one guy, Peter, and asked, “Do you want to leave me too?)
The level of obedience Jesus had toward His Father is astounding to me. It’s all I care about at this point in my life. He simply did not care about the reaction of the people around Him, or even His very own disciples when it came to what the Father was calling Him to preach and perform. The miracles and the message made them nervous. He had one thing on His mind: obedience.
We also see this play out in Exodus 32 and 33. Aaron caves in and does the comfortable thing. He helps the Israelites celebrate with pagan worship. He was a complete coward and directly disobeyed God. He then made it sound “spiritual” by saying he was celebrating God. “…he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, ‘Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.’ (Exodus 32:5)” There may be nothing more demonic than being directly disobedient to God and then “spinning” it like what you are doing is “honoring God.” That passage blows my mind.
Then you have Moses and Joshua, who are militant about being obedient to God no matter what the Israelites are doing on the bottom of the mountain. Big contrast to Aaron. Moses and Joshua would rather die than directly disobey Jehovah. I like that.
To obey is better than sacrifice. Jesus sets a high standard for me, but I would rather seek at every turn to be obedient to the Father’s call on my life than be like an Aaron. Help me, Abba. Jesus did not flinch in John 6. I want to do the same.