John 6:51-58

The most controversial subject one can engage
another in is not politics, not AIDS, not the death penalty, and not
the type of music preformed in worship. The most controversial
discussion centers on Jesus. If you don’t believe me try this
experiment the next time you are with a group of people. In the course
of your conversation start talking about Jesus and see if people
don’t slip away. One can talk about church and people don’t mind.
People can talk about God and few will raise eyebrows. But when one
starts talking about Jesus, hold on to your hat, people get very
uncomfortable. They walk away.

Jesus, because of His teaching and His character,
forces people to take a side. He challenges people to make a stand.
He leaves us no option apart from a decision. This fact is nowhere
more evident than in this text, when Jesus taught, “I tell you the
truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you have no life in you” (v. 53). While His statement is symbolic, it
nevertheless, requires a commitment. With Jesus no middle of the
road, gray area, or fence-straddling exists. With Jesus it is all or
nothing, life or death, for Him or against Him, stay or leave, follow
Him or leave Him.

C. S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity
explained this controversial nature of Jesus; “A man who was merely a
man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn’t be a great moral
teacher. He’d be either a lunatic – on a level with a man who says
he’s a poached egg – or else he’d be the devil of hell. You must make
your choice. Either this man was and is the Son of God, or else a
madman or something worse . . . . But don’t let us come up with any
patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He hasn’t
left that open to us. He didn’t intend to.”

Jesus can demand our all because he gave his all
in coming to this earth; he sacrificed his life for our sins; he
chose to stay on the cross when it would have been easy for him to
leave it and us behind.

People usually fall out in one of two camps with Jesus.

1. The fringe folk.

They come for the show. They love a party. Social
events are their cup of tea. They want entertainment, and, a miracle
or two doesn’t hurt. But the show has always got to be bigger and
better or they’ll move on to the next sensation. They are curiosity
seekers. They love to gawk and to see the display. They are spectators.
They stand at a distance and watch. They critique the show. They are
consumers, never giving only taking. As soon as someone asks them to
give they move on to the next show. They are fair weather-followers.
As long as the show is going to suit them they will come. As long as
everything is going their way they are fine. As long as no one asks
more than their presence they’ll show up. But if a demand is ever
made, a line is drawn in the sand, if a commitment is asked. They
leave so quickly that you’ll taste the dust from them running away.

2. The fanatical few.

They are the radical bunch. They are loyal to the
end. When the chips are down they can be counted on. Through thick
and thin they are there. When the going gets tough they’ll trudge
through. They are participators. They aren’t just watching the show
they are faithfully committed to seeing that the show goes on. They
are contributors. They don’t just take they give and give some more.
They have crossed the line and have sold out to Jesus. They have
taken to heart the words of Jesus, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks
my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day”
(v. 54).

Their lives are characterized by radical
obedience, total commitment, and complete surrender. Jesus is their
master, their Lord, and their leader. They have given their all. They
have chosen life over death. They can be counted on to the very end.
They follow Jesus not just because he is attractive; but because they
love him.

When it comes to following Christ are you on the fringe or one of the fanatical few?

Sermon brief provided
by: Rick Ezell, a pastor and writer in Naperville, IL.

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