Leading a Rebellion: Jesus Turned People Away on Purpose
Luke 14:25-33; John 6:1-69
Rebel: Anyone who goes against authority, control, or tradition.
Intro: John F. Kennedy announced he was running for president on January 2, 1960 just eleven months before the general election where he defeated Richard Nixon. In that time he had to first win the democratic primary before his name would even be on the November ballot. Officially Barak Obama announced he was running for president on February 10, 2007, 23 months before the general election. Unofficially it is suggested that he began his candidacy in 2006, or even in 2004 when he gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention that gave him national attention.
It’s a disturbing trend that the national elections are beginning earlier and earlier each election year. When the campaigns last longer, they cost more, have less productive things to talk about, and ultimately resort to tearing down their opponent. But even worse than that is the constituents, you and me, have to watch and listen to commercial after commercial of mindless political advertisements.
What is a political campaign, with its commercials, public speeches, debates, and photo opportunities designed to do? They are designed to either make Candidate A look good and desirable as an elected official and thereby garner your vote, or to make Candidate B look bad and undesirable as an elected official and thereby garner your vote.
Youversion Poll Question: If you didn’t know anything about a politician’s views, which of these would you say is most important?
C: Good Sense of Humor
D: Their ability to “Work” a crowd
How did Jesus work a crowd?
The Rebellion: Jesus rebelled against the culture because whether you believe Jesus was reforming Judaism or starting what came to be known as Christianity, He didn’t do it the way you and I would have done it. Every time a large crowd gathered around Jesus, He spoke in difficult to understand parables and them to do extremely difficult and painful things. In short every time a large crowd gathered around Jesus, He turned them away on purpose.
Imagine if you will, Mitt Romney or Barak Obama in front of 10,000 people and saying something like “You must hate your mom, dad, sisters, brothers, and your own children before you can vote for me. Get yourself an electric chair, plug yourself into it everyday and then vote for me. If you’re not willing to do that, go find another candidate.” That would be ridiculous, right? Politicians are always making their path the easier, and pain free choice.
Scripture: We have two passages of scripture tonight that illustrate clearly Jesus insisting that His followers take the harder and more painful path in life, turning people away by the thousands in the process.
Luke 14:25-33: Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
The first verse says there were great crowds following Him, so He turned and said some of the harshest words in all of scripture. The cost of discipleship that Jesus is laying out for His followers is not the cost of discipleship that some “ear-pleasing” American preachers are laying out for you today. In fact much of what they’re saying is the exact opposite of what Jesus said.
Not only did Jesus demand that His followers do extremely hard things, He also spoke in confusing and downright disgusting parables and illustrations.
In the next passage Jesus feeds 5,000 men plus women and children, and seeing that the people were going to force Him to be their king He departed alone up a mountain. His disciples got in a boat and crossed over to Capernaum by themselves. Jesus walked on water, met His disciples in the middle of the sea, and when they received Him into the boat, they immediately came to their destination. While in Capernaum they were greeted by a multitude of people who had just been miraculously fed and also crossed over the sea. Jesus knew that the people weren’t interested in following Him with His high cost of discipleship, they were interested in what they thought was their meal ticket. The people seeing Jesus, and knowing He didn’t get in the disciple’s boat were confused. They asked a legitimate question, “Rabbi, how did you get here?” Jesus, never one to satisfy mere curiosity answered this way:
John 6:26-69: Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread[a] the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus[b] said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.
The Words of Eternal Life
60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
Application: How many of you are afraid of a challenge? How many of you when faced with a difficult challenge get excited and pumped up rather than shrink back in fear? Being a real Christian is not easy. You will be made fun of. It will cost you friendships, maybe jobs, pay raises, freedom, maybe the creature comforts of living in the 1st world, and perhaps it could cost you your life.
When Jesus said take up your cross daily and follow me, He meant your life as you know it is now over. If He is your Lord, you have to do what He tells you to do. Most of us are cool with Him being our savior but we don’t like being told to do things that make us feel uncomfortable. We don’t like the “Lord” thing. When I baptize people I say, “Dead in Christ, buried (dunk ‘em in the water), raised to live a new life.” But that new life is not yours to live—it’s Christ’s.
If you’re going to be a Christian, you’ll be challenged to do uncomfortable things on a regular basis. All week during VBS the kids were invited to take part in the “Strong Man Challenge”. It takes a strong man or woman to share their faith and do uncomfortable things for God. My “Strong Man Challenge” for you is to do something uncomfortable for God and then come back and tell us about it. It’s time to put on your Big Boy and Big Girl pants and do something for God. Some examples for you: Fast (food, electronics, cell phone), pray for an extended amount of time, share your faith, buy a pack of tracts and pass them all out, buy a homeless person a meal, read straight through one of the gospels, invite a friend to our youth VBS next week….