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Difficult Statements

In John 6, Jesus explained to the multitude of listeners that He is the bread of life which comes out of heaven through which believers may have eternal life.  When the Jews heard this, they asked, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” (v. 52).  To this question, Jesus gave the following answer ( vv. 53-56):

“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 yourselves.  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.  For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.”

When some of his disciples heard His words, they said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” (v. 60).  Jesus then told them, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (v. 63).  By this explanation, we understand that Christ had spoken in spiritual terms and figures regarding belief in Him rather than speaking of literally eating His flesh and drinking His blood.  However, these hard-hearted disciples would not accept His words, and they “were not walking with Him anymore” (v. 66).

The Scriptures are filled with “difficult statements” for those who are unwilling to accept them or to submit to the will of God.  Some who would otherwise walk with Christ refuse to conform to such difficult statements, and they turn away.  Because of this stubborn unwillingness to submit to God’s will, there are many who seek to remove all difficult statements from the gospel in order to please such unbelievers.  The apostle Paul warned of this, saying, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2Tim. 4:3-4).  Such teachers preach a diluted gospel (which is not really the gospel – Gal. 1:6-9) that lacks the words of spirit and life but attracts thousands of people.

Some of the difficult realities of the Scriptures that are often not accepted are: Jesus’ teaching concerning marriage, divorce, and remarriage (Matt. 5:31-32; 19:3-9; Mark 10:1-12; Luke 16:18; John 4:16-18); the realization that one’s unbelieving family members are lost in sin (Mark 16:16; Luke 14:26); the fact that those who remain lost will be punished for eternity in hell (Matt. 25:46); the necessity for Christians to give up evil employment (Acts 19:19; Eph. 4:28); the requirement for wives to be in submission to their husbands (Eph. 5:22-24; Col. 3:18; 1Pet. 3:1); the truth about the dangers of riches (Matt. 19:23-26; 1Tim. 6:9-10, 17-19; Jas. 2:5-7; 5:1-6); the fact that Christ has only one church without denominationalism (Matt. 16:18; 1Cor. 1:10; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4).  These are just a few of the difficult teachings of the Bible that are commonly ignored, altered, or contradicted by many who claim to be followers of the Lord.  This is because they are simply unwilling to make the difficult choices and sacrifices that are required according to the Scriptures.  Such people may deceive themselves, but the Lord is not deceived by their self-serving religion (Gal. 6:7).  In truth, they have turned away and refused to walk in the ways of Christ.

The gospel does not promise to always be easy to obey.  Jesus knew that some of His words were difficult when He gave them.  For example, when Jesus taught on the subject of divorce, He said, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given” (Matt. 19:11).  Jesus knew that His difficult teachings would try the faith of some.  Indeed, the Scriptures tell us that all Christians will suffer and be tried (2Tim. 3:12; James 1:2-4, 12; 1Pet. 1:7; 4:12-16).  Self-sacrifice is part of what a Christian is (Rom. 12:1).  Christians are to follow the example of Christ, and He made the ultimate sacrifice (1Pet. 2:21-24).  One who is not willing to give up everything for Christ is not worthy to be called a Christian (Matt. 10:37-38).

While some statements found in the Scriptures may be difficult to accept, they cannot compare to the most difficult of all statements.  For all of those who will not accept the words of Christ and refuse to obey His gospel, that final and most difficult statement will be, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matt. 7:23).  Why not rather accept a few difficult statements today, and avoid an unimaginably difficult eternity without the Lord?

Stacey E. Durham




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