Jesus’ Teachings Are Too Hard

John 6:56-69 – 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time – for August 26, 2012

“This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” (John 6:60)

Since it’s only you and me, I want to honestly reveal a few thoughts about my Christian faith.

Sometimes I think myself a:

Yes also . . . a doubter.

These insights were easily triggered after reading John 6:63-64, where Jesus supposedly announced, “It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. [Here comes the verse that makes me gulp.] But among you there are some who do not believe.”

Soon after these verses in John’s Gospel, many of Jesus’ followers drifted away. Left. Vamoosed. However, speaking for the terrific twelve, the disciple Peter stayed, reassuring Jesus about their belief and commitment to the Nazarene’s words and way.

Good for you guys! It’s swell to have buds that’ll stick with you through thick and thin, when the going gets tough, as the storm clouds gather and . . .

. . . Oops. You and I know the whole story. Twelve brief chapters later, with Jesus under the imperial thumb of Rome, boastful Peter will mumble he’s never heard of Mary and Joseph’s first-born (John 18:25-27). For our friend Peter, the shelf life of belief had expired.

And yes, the wayward fisherman, the brother of Andrew, the Peter who becomes the “rock” of the church, will stage a comeback.

Still, there are those passages, scattered in the Gospels like landmines, where both unnamed and famously named disciples skulk off into the night. Jesus’ words were too hard. Jesus’ ways of confronting powerful institutions, and challenging an individual’s weaknesses, demanded more commitment than seemed humanly possible. Continue reading →