Jesus was a master at losing people. If you recall, there was a time when the crowds that followed Him were huge. Many were there because they heard of the miracle of the multiplication of bread and fish so they flocked to Him in the tens of thousands.
Jesus, of course, had no intention of allowing anyone to follow Him just for the benefits they could get. So, He said the most provocative thing in Scripture – “Unless you eat My flesh and drink My blood, you have no life in you.” No explanations were given. No apologies were made. For the majority of the crowd, that was just too much.
They came for the free bread and now ‘He’s asking us to be cannibals!?’ So, in just one sermon, He lost almost His entire congregation. As fast as they came, they were gone. But He wasn’t out to please anybody or become popular or look successful. He came to do the will of His Father. And it didn’t matter how many there were, because numbers are never an indicator of a man’s success.
The 12 disciples were all hanging around with nervous smiles on their faces. One moment, they were part of the largest, most trendy, and most successful megachurch in the country. And now, all of a sudden, they were down to a handful of people. What was Jesus going to say to them? This is what He said, “Hey guys, you want to go too? Don’t let the door hit you on your way out” – I’m paraphrasing.
Jesus was so committed to the truth that, even if He was the only one left standing, so be it. He certainly wasn’t out to please anyone. In John 16:12, He said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” I think that one of the indicators of a true maturing church is the amount of truth it is able to bear. The more a church can bear, the more light it can hold; and, the greater the light it bears, the greater its witness. I think there were so many things that our Lord wanted to teach His disciples but they weren’t able to bear what He had to say to them.
What I think the Scriptures is saying is, ‘How much truth can we bear without being offended?’ It’s so important that we grow up in this regard because our inability to receive truth will keep us in infanthood. In 30 years of ministry, I can tell you that there are people, the moment you correct them, who get discouraged and depressed and want to leave church. Often, when that happens, you tend to back off because you don’t want the person to stumble. But, at the same time, people like this never grow up – they stay in infanthood.
Our ability to bear truth will qualify us for more. And, he who has, even more will be given. When you come to the place where you can take solid food, the process begins when God starts to feed you a diet of solid food and no longer milk. You’re weaned off milk and are now growing rapidly because of your ability to digest solids. Your ability to receive not just truth – but corrective truth – enables you to grow and mature quickly.
But many in the church are so stuck in their traditional thinking that, when the preacher says something that offends their minds, they retaliate. That’s just a sign of immaturity. So, to whom does solid food belong? That’s the question that’s posed to us in the passage in Hebrews. And Scripture says that solid food belongs to those who are of full age, who are mature, who have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. The more solid food a church is able to bear, the more mature the congregation is.
May we grow up in His fullness.
Ps. Yang Tuck Yoong