Jesus feels the pain of being left by those He loves. John 6:66 states, “From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked with Him no more.” (KJV)
When this happened, Jesus had just gotten done explaining the great sacrifice that would be required of them. In John 6:60, just a few verses before we are told “Many of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can hear it." (KJV)
The truth of all of Christianity is that there are sometimes very hard things we have to walk through which we do not understand. If we choose to press in and allow God to grant us His strength and peace, then He will bring us to the other side of the hard place. If we choose to not press in to Him, it’s a grave mistake, because that is where most people get bitter and choose to “walk with Him no more!”
For years, liberal theologians, looking for an easy believe-ism gospel, interpreted the John 6:60 phrase to mean that what Jesus was teaching was “hard for the disciples to understand.” However, if that were the case, then Jesus would have gladly given His disciples clarity of understanding to prevent them from falling away. He was making it very clear to the disciples that they were going to face the same sort of suffering that He was about to face.
During our many years of youth ministry, we would always teach teens the difference between a friend and a buddy. A buddy says things like: “Hey dude go ahead and smoke that weed, or drink that alcohol, it is not going to hurt you!” Or go ahead and have premarital sex, you won’t get pregnant! Party party; have a blast, if it feels good do it, everyone else is!
But a friend is different. A true friend says, “No, don’t do those things! They can hurt you, you can be killed in a car accident, or your girlfriend can get pregnant.” A true friend stands up for what’s right and cares about you as an individual.
Jesus, in John 15:15, said: “ I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (NIV) Jesus never made any of the disciples, or anyone else, His buddy! This is where I feel many fall away from the faith. For many, it possibly will be the hinge that turns the door for them on their way out of the Christianity they once professed!
Jesus warned many times and in many ways about false teachers. He explained that they would be blind leaders of the blind, and both would fall in the ditch. There would be false “Christs” who would come in the last days, and deceive many, and they would be so convincing that even the very elders of God’s church could be deceived.
I am absolutely positive that one of the most subtle yet convincing false teachings that has risen its ugly head in the past several decades, coming in several flavors, is the teaching that Jesus wants to be your buddy! He is the false Jesus that winks at sin. He is the false Jesus that allows you to do whatever you want to; you just need to ask for His blessing on it! He is the Jesus that causes many people to fall away when their formulas that they have come up do not work!
Incorporating this false Jesus persona does not produce some concocted miracle during any given crisis of life. It morphs from the sincere “Why God did you allow this?” question of a solid Christian with a true Biblical relationship with the living Christ, to a “Jesus my buddy, I just lost everything while trusting you to bless my ‘not ordained of God’ plans. You must be a false god, so I am leaving you” scenario.
The micro-quick conversions where we lead someone in a thirty-second so-called prayer of salvation, and escort them out the back of the church to meet with trained counselors who hand them the church packet of reading materials, seldom lasts past the parking lot. Those who do make it home with the materials and read the literature in coming back to church they are met with more “Jesus is your buddy” lessons and sermons.
Is it too much of a stretch to see how a demon wanting to create a false conversion might just work in the spirit world to engineer what appear to be answers to prayers to a “buddy like” Jesus? The devil is perceptive enough to realize that down the road, after one good trial when the “buddy Jesus” does not come through, his victim would be more of a convert of hell than he was to begin with, having felt that he had tried Christianity and that it was a lie!
When we as believers finally stop thinking of Jesus as if He is some kind of “buddy” He will be able to teach us about the hard lessons of Biblical Christianity. You see, Jesus was clearly teaching those disciples, as recorded in John chapters five and six, about the hard things they would have to go through as believers.
Oh that many of those today in places of great influence would stop promoting and believing that Jesus is their buddy and start seeing Him as a true friend, a friend that sticks closer than a brother. A friend who will reveal in prayer what the Father is doing eventually during a severe trial if we will just pray through on it. He is a friend who would ask all of us today, “Will you also leave me?”
Then may we be like Peter who responded, “Where shall we go Lord because you alone have the words of eternal life!” (John 6:68 KJV)