John 6 is the big decision time for his followers. By this point, Jesus has been around for a while and it’s time to figure out who believes and who does not. “Amen, Amen I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.” (Jn 6:47). The question is, can we accept and not believe? To accept Jesus’ teachings is to simply look at the facts and acknowledge that what He is saying it true. To believe, however, is to closely observe the lifestyle and behavior of Jesus and his followers, and do the best we can to emulate that way of living. For instance, Jesus model was solitude, then community, then ministry. He spent time with the Father first and often, then he invested in a few, then together they went out to minister to others, and finally they participated in Sabbath rest. That model does not compute today. What seems to make more sense is to work long and hard all day every day, get ahead, not waste time in relationship, and get a little time with God when time allows. If we do that are we believing or just accepting the teaching of Jesus?
Jesus’ teaching on belief in John 6 comes to a head with many of his followers, “This is difficult teaching, who can listen to it?” (v. 60) Jesus kept pressing in with his words on belief. “There are some of you who do not believe” (v 64). And at the end of this lengthy, meaty discussion in John 6 we see that many of his followers withdrew and were not walking with him anymore. (v. 66) From this we get a good picture of lack of belief. To not believe is to not walk with Jesus any longer, to do life on our terms instead of his own.
My favorite question of Jesus rounds out this teaching in John 6. As many of his followers are walking away, he looks at his twelve “recruits” and says, “You do not want to go away also do you?”(v.67) Silence, the air grows thick, I’m sure some of the guys were considering it. They must have been thinking how simple their lives were before they met Jesus. But they knew deep down that walking with Jesus was the only way to experience real life. One of the spokesmen for this little band speaks, “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” (v.68-69) At the end of the day these guys believed and continued walking with Jesus.