I have two teenagers right now. One of the simple pleasures I get out of being a dad is hearing, "Dad, you're so embarrassing." Yup. That's right! Typically this little phrase flies out when I am not allowing them to do something they want to do. Particularly when this happens in front of their friends. It also happens when I try to be hip and cool (this failed for me even before kids, but now it's just fun to watch them shudder). Even though I embarrass them at times, they still love me fiercely.
As I was reading through the story of Jesus in John 6, I thought about how the things he was saying must have been really embarrassing to his followers. At the end of the chapter, after he had talked about the need to eat his flesh and drink his blood, many left him. Probably, one some level, because they were embarrassed that a rabbi would say such crass things.
Check out this interaction between Jesus and his closest followers,
When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him. (John 6:60-71, ESV)
I love the vulnerability of Jesus in this moment as he looked at his twelve closest disciples. "Do you want to go away as well?"
Could you imagine? You've just been listening to Jesus give his most subversive and radical teaching. He's more than likely made you feel very uncomfortable and even a little embarrassed. You're probably thinking, "This guy is a little cracked in the head."
Then Jesus looks at you as many people are walking away and asks, "Do you want to go away as well?"
Perhaps there was sadness in his eyes. Maybe there was a look of astonishment or curiosity. Either way, I imagine that look pierced right through the twelve.
Peter spoke, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” What a statement! Peter knew that there was something to Jesus, this teacher, was more than meets the eye. Jesus was the one who had the words of eternal life, he was the Holy One of God, and what had they done? Believed.
They had believed.
There was nobody else for them to go to for these things. They knew this because they had believed. The twelve had done the work of God, they believed. This belief in Jesus changed them to their core. Their belief in him erased the embarrassment they may have felt.
How about you? Have you believed?