The Saddest Sentence in the Gospels

LeRoy Koopman

READ : John 6:60-71

If you were to choose one sentence from the gospels as the saddest, what would it be? “Jesus began to weep” (John 11:35)? Or “There they crucified him” (John 19:18)?

I’d like to suggest that verse 66, “Many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him,” is the saddest verse in the gospels.

These followers met Jesus and responded positively. They listened intently to his teachings. They gave up personal choices in order to follow Jesus. But now that era of their life was over.

The gospel writer said a few verses earlier that many of Jesus’ disciples found his teachings to be “difficult” (v. 60). There may have been other reasons for their decision to turn away.

Some followed Jesus only as a “religious phase” they had gone through. Others followed only for a while because of friends. Others became increasingly uneasy about Jesus’ moral teachings. They wanted to go back to their old lifestyle. Some got too busy! Others got into a snit or quarrel. One became disillusioned with hypocrites. Another heard about a more exciting religious teacher. Some simply drifted away.

They came so close to salvation, then, “They turned back.” It’s the saddest sentence in the Bible.


Help me, Lord Jesus, to follow you without reservation, without second thoughts, without turning back.