This Week's Focus Passage

This Week’s Focus Passage: John 6:66 ‘Upon this many of his disciples went back, and walked no more

This Week’s Focus Passage: John 6:66

‘Upon this many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.’


    We may read the ‘pre-quel’ to this disturbing verse, in the sixth chapter of the fourth gospel. The response of these ‘disciples’ did not transpire in a vacuum, but rather it was fostered in a crucible. That crucible was Truth; Truth in the Person of Jesus Christ, the Son of David; the Son of God. His teaching uttered in the ears of these many attendants gathered before His platform, or stage, raised numerous concerns regarding the things which He was teaching. We called it disturbing because it reminds us of the vast multitudes among mankind that have rejected the Truth; Jesus Christ, and as the Scriptures inform us, exchanged the Truth for a lie. Yea, Paul has told us in his epistle to the church of Rome, Romans 1:24-25, saying;

Wherefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.  

Why did these ‘many of his disciples,’ go back, and walk no more with Him? Are we not told the reason? Is it not ‘Upon this? But what is the ‘this’ upon which they went back? We must consult the dialogue that took place prior to this exodus from Him. It may have had something of a beginning from the point at which Jesus told them, in verses 36 and 37, that All that which the Father giveth me shall come unto me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. When this beautiful and positive truth is then followed in verse 44, with the assertion that, No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him; and I will raise him up in the last day, when these seemingly opposing statements are, in the minds and hearts of these hearers, coupled together, they cannot receive them. What is this that He has said? First, He tells us that All that which the Father giveth me shall come unto me, and then He follows with, notwithstanding, No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him. Jesus explains further, in the next verse, verse 45, but they are not prepared to properly hear this explanation written in the prophets. He speaks, of course, of the prophets in their writings: He could, just as well, have said what He said to the two on the road to Emmaus, O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken. 

    Jesus went on to tell that that while their fathers ate the bread (the manna) that came down from heaven, nonetheless they died. But, He said, I am the bread of life, and, This is the bread which cometh down out of heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; yea and the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world. 

    The Jews therefore strove one with another, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? reminiscent of Nicodemus rather famously saying, in John 3:9, How can these things be? These folk would not, could not, believe that which they could not understand. What they needed was light; and the Light of the world was standing before them, and they rather determined to walk no more with Him. This is the way of fallen man; this is the way of this world. We are reminded of the earlier passage at the close of the second chapter of this fourth gospel, where an event similar to that under discussion took place. In those verses, 2:23-25, we may read:

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed on his name, beholding his signs which he did. But Jesus did not trust himself unto them, for that he knew all men, and because that he needed not any one should bear witness concerning man; for he himself knew what was in man. 

Here, in this earlier event, many disclosed, by their behavior, that they were not true and serious followers of the Truth. In this case, these many that ‘believed’ were only believing because of the signs, or miracles, that He had done. And while, these may have deceived many of those around them, they did not deceive Jesus, for he himself knew what was in man. And in our sixth chapter, when ‘many of His disciples went back,’ and He inquired of the twelve, He knew what their answer would be, when He asked, Would ye also go away, for he himself knew what was in man.  

    Even so, as it may well have grieved Simon Peter that so many, perhaps all but the twelve, had gone back, and walked no more with Jesus, or themselves. Are we not, in similar fashion grieved upon seeing multitudes walking no more with Jesus? Huge multitudes that meet the definition given by Paul in the passage from Romans one, but even then, and in our own day, large numbers that ‘walk with Jesus’ for a time, and then go back, and walk no more with Him. Individuals that for a time attend worship services, many may do so even for years, and yet eventually they turn back and walk no more with Jesus, or with believers.

We see so much of this behavior in the world; in the history of mankind; yea, perhaps even more so in our own day, and even making progress, it seems, in the past several years. There are activities of late that many of us must freely admit, we would have never, in a million years (allow the hyperbole, please) have ever expected to witness. Could not much of this be categorized according to Paul’s words in Romans one; cited above; men serving the creature rather than the Creator? Is it not a form of worshipping the creature, or serving the creature, when ‘science’ is seeking to alter even the features of our humanity? We read in the Word about some that will call evil good, and good evil. In Isaiah 5:20ff., the prophet has spoken of this sort of attitude and behavior, even that which seems, sadly, more rife in our day. 

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink; that justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!  

Do these contrarieties seem to predominate in our land, even more of late? What we must be on our guard against is the temptation to permit these things to bring us to anger, anxiety, frustration, fear, even most lamentable, hatred. We ought not to yield to these feelings; they are wrong and demonstrate weak faith. What we ought to rather be doing is to follow the character that Ezekiel sets before us in that vision of chapter nine, where we see men come forth, one with a writer’s inkhorn by his side, and six others with slaughter weapons in their hands. While the man with the writer’s inkhorn set a mark on those that would be spared from the slaughter, as the six followed with their slaughter weapons smiting, and not sparing any, except those who had received a mark upon their forehead. These were identified to the man with the writer’s inkhorn by the fact that they were those that ‘sighed and cried for the abominations that were done in the land.’—Ezekiel 9:3ff. We need to be such as would have that mark on our forehead? Let us sigh and cry, rather than rant and rave.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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