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Jesus’ Astonishing Capernaum Question Boosts Your Faith

How Christ's confusing words can deepen your spiritual life.

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The question Jesus asked in the Capernaum synagogue still rattles around in our minds. In fact, whether or not we realize it, we deal with His question most days of our lives.

Jesus’ Capernaum Question Still Astonishes Our Ears

(Photo: Capernaum Synagogue. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

You do not want to go away also, do you? (John 6:67)

Jesus’ question had an edge of disappointment. He had just spoken with some of his followers, called “disciples,” though not the twelve apostles. Jesus spoke words that drew a line in the Galilean dirt, separating his followers into two groups.

Jesus had just uttered the unthinkable. How would you respond to what He said?

This is a Difficult Statement

So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.’ (John 6:53)

Right, Jesus. Got it.

Huh?

Of course, hearing these words and imagining doing them was unimaginable to Jews (and frankly, to us). Especially when drinking blood was a no-no in the Law.

But even metaphorically, the words seem odd. Though we might filter Jesus’ words through our 21st-century stained glass understanding, and say, “Oh, He’s talking about communion,” how does that help? Especially since Jesus hadn’t instituted the Lord’s Supper yet. But whatever Jesus meant, set that aside for now, and consider how the words landed strange to everyone who heard them that day.

Capernaum synagogue palm tree carving

(Photo: Capernaum synagogue carving. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Some in the synagogue voiced their disgust and disapproval:

This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it? (John 6:60)

More than grumbling with their voices, they grumbled with their feet—and walked away from Jesus and no longer followed Him (v. 66).

Who Can Listen to It?

The line in the sand did its work. Whatever Jesus meant by His enigmatic words of bread and blood, the level of commitment they required proved too costly.

Or at the very least, too confusing.

An uncommitted disciple hears hard words from God and refuses to burn the mental calories to figure it out. They follow as consumers, listening in order to evaluate rather than in order to grow, to learn, to worship. If the meaning of God’s Word hides anywhere below the obvious—if the whip cream lies buried beneath the green beans—then forget it. It’s not worth it.

The uncommitted chooses to leave rather than to learn. Every time.

Where Else Shall We Go?

But the committed, though also confused by Jesus’ words at times, deepen their curiosity. Whatever Jesus meant, He meant it. Whatever His odd and even offensive statement means, several things are true:

  • He doesn’t have confusion as His ultimate goal for me.
  • He doesn’t fire statements across the bow only to impress me with His level of understanding or wisdom.
  • His goal isn’t to pull me up by shaming me.

Notice, before Jesus ever explained His confusing statement, He wanted to know the commitment of the twelve. That alone begs an important question: Does confusion weaken our commitment to Jesus, or will we stay with Christ even though He often speaks on a level beyond our comprehension?

Peter spoke for the twelve in answer to Jesus’ question. Peter’s answer was a question itself.

Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. (John 6:68)

Don’t you love that reply? The second part of Peter’s statement informs the first part, the question. Because Jesus speaks the words of life—and only Jesus does—the answer to Jesus’ question is obvious.

Where else can we go?

Capernaum synagogue

(Photo: Capernaum synagogue. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

No one else offers what the Lord Jesus offers. Nowhere else can we find the answers for life, either now or in eternity. Once committed to Jesus as “Lord,” and once convinced He alone offers “words of eternal life,” there is nowhere else we need to go.

But commitment doesn’t make all of  Jesus’ words make sense. “Drink my blood”? Really? What can that mean? Still, to Peter, even with all the confusion of Jesus’ words, there can be only one choice.

We stick with Christ.

Committed, Confused, and that’s Just Fine

Once convinced of Jesus as Lord, we’re stuck in the best way. Confusion doesn’t weaken our commitment to Christ. If anything, it should weaken our commitment to ourselves, to our own logic as the basis of our commitment.

Are we committed because we understand it all, or rather, because we’re convinced that the Lord Jesus understands it all?

When we read the Word of God and our mind snags on any words or actions we read, those hard parts of the Bible, it should drive us to deepen our commitment to the Lord. After all, only a God so mighty, so wise, so magnificent could inspire words of truth on all levels—words we can understand as well as words that require faith for now.

Our confusion should only serve to weaken our commitment to ourselves and to strengthen our commitment to Jesus.

Tell me what you think: How do you respond when God’s Word is confusing? To leave a comment, just click here.

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