Jesus never ran for public office. Good thing, as he often violated the hidden rules for smooth-talking, get-along-with-everyone, slick politicians. In fact, some of the statements Jesus made would cause a campaign manager to pull out his hair in frustration.
Just imagine Jesus speaking on the campaign trail. “You have seen me and still you do not believe” (John 6:36). “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them” (John 6:65). “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53). None of these statements seem politically correct, do they? Certainly, none could serve as a catchy campaign slogan.
So why did Jesus say these things? Didn’t he want people to follow him? Why would he deliberately say things to offend people and turn them away?
The simple conclusion seems to be that Jesus cared far more about the quality of his disciples than about their quantity. If he cared only about increasing the size of the crowds following him, he could easily have fed them more bread or performed more miracles. Or he could have toned down some of his “hard teaching” (John 6:60).
But Jesus already knew who didn’t believe (see John 6:64). He knew that some of the people following him wanted only free food (see John 6:26) or a flashy sign from God (see John 6:30). Jesus didn’t want preoccupied followers. He wanted disciples who would proclaim, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
The same holds true today. Jesus wants us to follow him, but he still desires quality disciples. That level of commitment might mean living, saying and doing things that ruffle some feathers. As evangelist Billy Graham notes, “It is unnatural for Christianity to be popular.”
To Take Away
Do you think of yourself as a “quality” follower of Jesus? Why or why not?
What “hard teachings” cause you to struggle with following Jesus?
What steps can you take to become a more devoted follower of Jesus?