I’ve been on a bit of a journey this past week looking at so much discussion of truth and lies that my head is spinning. In the midst of this I encountered a good presentation on apologetics, which addresses how we can know anything; a similar set of articles by someone in my Sunday School class, here and here, and a good discussion of the ultimate consequences if you believe or don’t believe the Bible we will all face. Also this one, I mentioned earlier. And a sermon we heard today, from Rev 21:1-6.
It got me thinking about this question: Who rejects Jesus and why?
This needs more development but here is a brief overview of some observations.
John 6:66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Why was this?
Let’s look at the timeline.
Jesus was being rejected in Capernaum, and elsewhere in the region. Gill wrote:
Quickly after the passover was ended, Christ departed from Jerusalem, and went into Galilee, and preached in the several cities and towns in those parts, and wrought many miracles: and after these things, in process of time,
You can pick up the early story from Luke 4, when he was in his home town, Nazareth. When we read the early account in Luke, Jesus was being rejected from the beginning.
The synagogues were the “church” of his day. To his own home town.
Luke 4:16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
Luk 4:28 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,
Luk 4:29 And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.
Luk 4:30 But he passing through the midst of them went his way,
This led him to go to Capernaum.
Luke 4:31 And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days.
Earlier in John 6 we read:
John 6:10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
He did not want this to become political..to be made king, so he departed and left for Capernaum.
Joh 6:14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.
Joh 6:15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
Joh 6:16 And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea,
Joh 6:17 And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.
The next verse tell of Jesus miracle of walking on the water to join them. We pick it up once they arrive. Some portion of the crowd followed him..
Joh 6:24 When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.
Joh 6:25 And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?
Jesus knew their hearts and motivation.
John 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
The rest of the teaching in the chapter is powerful, read it on your own.
But focus here on the final verse leading up to v66 and his “disciples” following no more. Remember these are those actually following Jesus, not just the religious leaders. We pick it up with Jesus again teaching in “church”.
Joh 6:59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.
Joh 6:60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
This is how it ends.
Joh 6:61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
Joh 6:62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
Joh 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
Joh 6:64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
Joh 6:65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
Joh 6:66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Joh 6:67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
Notice in v65 Jesus repeats what he said earlier.
John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
In today’s culture many will try to present a different gospel, some will call it a works gospel, or a peace gospel or a “social gospel”, and there are many good elements of serving and helping our neighbors in these teachings. Many are attracted by these gospels, but just as in the teaching of Jesus in the Bible we just read, many “disciples” will turn away when “doctrine” i.e. teaching is fully presented. They don’t want to acknowledge the full body of biblical teaching.
Paul and John will generalize about Jesus’ rejection.
Paul writes that God is actual known to everyone and people are without excuse. As modern versions phase it they “suppress the truth”
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Gill writes: who hold the truth in unrighteousness: meaning either such who know the Gospel, which is “the truth”, and do not profess it openly, but hold and imprison it in their minds, which is a great piece of unrighteousness; or if they do profess it, do not live up to it in their lives: or rather the Gentile philosophers are designed, who are spoken of in the following verse; See Gill on Rom 1:22; who had some knowledge of the truth of the divine Being, and his perfections, and of the difference between moral good and evil; but did not like to retain it themselves, nor communicate all they knew to others, nor did they live according to that knowledge which they had.
Rom 1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Rom 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Rom 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
Romans 1:22 Gill writes: Professing themselves to be wise,…. The learned men among the Gentiles first called themselves σοφοι, “Sophi”, wise men: and afterwards, to cover their wretched pride and vanity, φιλοσοφοι, “Philosophers”, lovers of wisdom; but notwithstanding all their arrogance, their large pretensions to wisdom, and boast of it they became fools; they appeared to be so; they showed themselves to be such in those very things they prided themselves with the knowledge of: as, for instance, Socrates, after he had asserted the unity of God, and is said to die a martyr for the truth; yet one of the last actions of his life was sacrificing a cock to Aesculapius, at least he desired his friend Crito to do it.
Finally, in John Chapter 3 we read about the consequences of not believing.
Joh 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Joh 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Much more could be said about the sheep and the goats, good and bad seed, wheat and chaff. As well as those characteristics of who will not be in the kingdom of God…which can be summed up as those who never display the fruit of repentance, or outright reject Jesus.
Btw, there is clear teaching that not just the disciples but also the leaders in the church also rejected Jesus and influenced the people to do so…
Luke 5:21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?
Luke 5:30 But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?
Luke 6:7 And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him.
Luke 6:11 And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.
Luke 7:30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.
You know the rest of the story and it ended very badly.
Mark 15:11 But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.
Matthew 27:20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
Luke 23:23 And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.
John 19:6 When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.
John 19:7 The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.
The good news of the Gospel is that this wasn’t the final chapter of the story after all. Read how Paul describes it in 1 Corinthians 15, which begins:
1Co 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
1Co 15:2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
1Co 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
1Co 15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
1Co 15:5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
1Co 15:6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
1Co 15:7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
1Co 15:8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
1Co 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
1Co 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
1Co 15:11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.