A Hard Saying

Lou Lotz

Read: John 6:51-69

This is a hard saying; who can listen to it? (v. 60)

Christianity is countercultural; it swims against the stream of contemporary life. Forgive your enemies. Give to the poor. Stand in solidarity with the homeless and oppressed. Deny yourself. Take up your cross. Church-growth gurus do a lot of chin-stroking and soul-searching about why people, younger people especially, have drifted away from the church, and what we might do to reverse that trend. There are a lot of theories as to why church leaders look out on so much empty lumber on Sunday mornings—lower birth rates, institutional irrelevance, fuzzy theology—but sometimes I find myself wondering if the demands of the gospel are simply too off-putting for people nowadays. The problem is not that the theology is fuzzy but that it is alarmingly clear—there is a cost to discipleship, and the cost is to die to yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus. “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”

To the crowds listening to Jesus that day, his words sounded delusional, crazy, cannibalistic, repulsive. “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him” (v. 66). And so many people today also turn back. But if we are no longer going along with Jesus, then where are we going? Who are we going with? Peter speaks for the Twelve, and for you and me, I hope, when he says, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (v. 68). —Lou Lotz

As you pray, ask the Lord to give you grace to follow him, whatever the cost.