This Week's Focus Passage

They Walked With Him No More

Focus Passage: John 6:66

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

Upon what was it that caused many of His disciples to go back? What was the reason that so many would walk no more with Him? What had He just said that so ruptured their union? Is it even possible to suggest that union was broken because of the Truth? The Scriptures are very clearly in favor of union, or we should say, communion of believers one with another in Christ. Yet we have here before us a great number of followers deserting Jesus and His teaching; yea, deserting Him because of His teaching; because of something that He had just said. What was it that He had just said that so repulsed ‘the many’? What was the teaching that these folk could not bear? He had just iterated the words recorded by John in verse 44, saying, ‘For this cause have I said unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it be given unto him of the Father.’ The many had departed from Him because of hearing these words spoken by Christ, that the ability to come unto Christ is a gift; something that is gifted of the Father to the individual. This is teaching only that which the Word of God teaches, but they wouldn’t hear it; they walked no more with Him.

This is no more than a precursor of that which we witness day in and day out; time again after time. Sinners do not like to be told that they cannot save themselves. Especially in the American ‘tradition,’ the citizens of this country will not tolerate being told that their ‘destiny’ is not in their own hands. This is a free country and anything is possible if one will just put his mind to it; if one will only apply himself to it; if one will only work hard enough, and long enough. With man all things are possible is the mantra of this glorious land, absolutely forgetful that these words are only spoken, in the Scriptures, of the Almighty and Sovereign God of heaven and earth. But this is the famous ‘American Way.’ It appears that these many that went back had something, speaking anachronistically of course, of the American spirit in them. They did not care to be told that there was a thing that they could not do themselves apart from Someone superior to them; they did not wish to be told of any limitations whatever upon their abilities. This appears to be all that it took for them to be dissuaded from following the Christ. Is this not a common feature of the sons of Adam? ‘Tell me what I must do and I’ll do it’ is the mantra of confidence among the common lot of people in our generation. It is clear, however, that it was not initiated by our generation; it is as old as mankind. Do not many false religions witness this reality? Is it not astounding to learn of the measures that folk will go to in order to earn their way to heaven, or paradise, or Valhalla, or Nirvana? Historically, men have been willing to deprive themselves of much; been willing to flog themselves; been willing to go on difficult and lengthy pilgrimages; been willing to engage in crusades portending almost certain death rather than concede that salvation must come from without themselves, or not at all. It has been suggested that we are all Arminians by birth, and that may well be true.

What was the reaction and response of Jesus to this grand exodus? What question was provoked in His mind by ‘the many’ going back to walk no more with Him? The next verse tells us, ‘Jesus said therefore unto the twelve, Would ye also go away?’ Well, He inquires, the statement that I have just made regarding the sovereignty of God in the salvation of sinners has caused the many to leave; will it cause you to leave as well? You have come this far; will this cause you to turn back? The entire picture that this account presents to our mind’s eye brings to our thoughts the account found in the gospel according to Luke, chapter 9:57-62. In that account there were three individuals that each seemed eager and most willing to follow the Lord, yet upon inquiry made, they each would have themselves excused. Our Lord’s response to the third enquirer would likely be satisfactory for all, and even these in our focus passage who went back. Jesus said unto him, ‘No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’ Looking back, on the surface, seems innocent enough. Yet, in a similar case Christ exhorts His hearers to ‘Remember Lot’s wife!’ She looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. As J. C. Ryle has said of her, ‘yes, she fled with her husband, but she left her heart behind her.’ Well might we set the inquiry of our Lord before ourselves daily, ‘Would ye also go away?’

We trust that each of us would answer with something of an echo of the voice of Peter. His wonderfully grand response was simple, but to the point, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.’ While the many were evidently recoiled by the words of our Lord and Savior, Peter claims that these words were, to his ears, words of eternal life. Does this not most certainly validate the later statement of the apostle Paul speaking of the gospel that he and others were pronouncing? As they personified that very gospel, he was led to point out:

For we are a sweet savor of Christ unto God, in them that are saved, and in them that perish; to the one a savor of death unto death; to the other a savor of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as the many, corrupting the word of God.

Again we find reference to ‘the many.’ Are these not the same of whom Christ was speaking when He uttered those somber parallel words, ‘Many are called, but few are chosen’? There are the chosen in the midst ‘of the many.’ Many are they that are called even as ‘the many’ who were following Jesus up to a point, but they found the words of sovereign grace unpalatable, and went back. They corrupted the word of God, as it were, by turning back. It is only God who has made any to differ. The chosen rejoice to say, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?’

David Farmer, elder,

Fellowship Bible Church


Join us Sunday at