What has become a stumbling block in developing a relationship with God? Does your belief in God depend on the things of this world? Do you doubt the Word of God?
59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? 62 What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”
So, Jesus just got done telling everyone within earshot that they have to eat His flesh in order to have eternal life. I can imagine His disciples’ thoughts (remember, this doesn’t refer to just the original 12, but anyone who is following Him at this point). “This guy is nuts! He’s going to lose popularity over this and people will stop listening to Him. Do I really believe what He is saying?” Do you really believe what He is saying? This is why I enjoy conversations with people who have different beliefs than I do, it challenges my beliefs and affirms that yes, I do believe in this. Sometimes I feel guilty for questioning them, but then realize that it is in the questioning that my faith grows. I touched on this in my talk on religion.
Jesus calls them out, “does this cause you to stumble?” In other words: does this make you believe less or cause you to doubt? I like how He makes eating flesh look miniscule by challenging them to think about Him ascending into heaven before their very eyes (something that He knew He would be doing in the future). I wonder if anyone thought back to this interchange when it happened.
We need to recognize that the Kingdom of God is not at all like the kingdom of man. What we see, feel, experience, and do here on earth does not even compare to heaven. The flesh profits nothing; in relying on the world we do not and will not experience the presence of God. God’s word is spirit and life and it is through these that we begin to experience a relationship with God.
Jesus reiterates a point He made earlier that is a hard pill to swallow: belief is not up to us! We need to remember that it isn’t about us choosing to believe something, then the belief would be from us, wouldn’t it? We can choose to seek something or someone out, in this case a relationship with God, but it isn’t us who cause ourselves (or others) to believe.
What is causing you to stumble today? Where is your faith lacking or where are you doubting the Word of God? Are you causing others to stumble by trying to convince them to believe what you believe? Are you trying to play God? How are you relying on the flesh to guide you instead of the Spirit?
This song helps me to remember that it’s not about me, it’s always about Him: