Week 14: Doubt
53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread[c] the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus [d] said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.
60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 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. 64 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.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6: 53-69
Do you ever have doubts? I do. Do ever have those times in your life where everything seems to be going along just fine and then life happens? Things don’t go your way. Tragedy hits. You begin to have questions to and about God that you just can’t seem to find answers for. Your biggest questions are “Why God?” … “What are You doing?” … “How could You let this happen?”… and especially “How could You let this happen to me?” … “God, You wanna explain this one to me?”
First of all, I would say FEAR NOT. It’s okay to have questions about life and God. In fact, it is a part of what it means to be human. Remember last week, we said that the opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is fear.
The good news is that if there are times where you have serious doubts and unanswered questions then you are in good company. In fact, you could make a really great disciple. The real question is, what do you do with those doubts? In the text we read together, the disciples have a whole bunch of doubts and unanswered questions. Jesus begins to teach the crowds that HE is the bread of life.
Which is cool, but then He takes it further and He says that unless you eat His flesh and drink His blood then you can’t be His follower. And many in the crowd, they don’t understand what He is talking about…and they turn away from following Jesus. And the reason that they turn away is because they didn’t really want Jesus, they just wanted what Jesus could give them.
This teaching comes on the heels of Jesus feeding 5,000 people with just a little fish and bread. And then, then Jesus turns his attention to the 12 disciples. And He asked, “Do you want to go away as well?” Now, why do you think Jesus asked this of the 12? Because Jesus knows the heart of every man. I think it’s because the disciples are considering leaving. They are thinking, “What are You doing?”… “Can You explain yourself?” … “I don’t understand what You are talking about?”… “God, You wanna explain this one to me?”
And the crazy thing, in my opinion, is that Jesus offers NO explanation to the crowd or to the disciples to what He’s talking about. And He could have explained it to them and cleared up all the questions. He could have let them know that He didn’t mean that people had to line up and take a bite out of his flesh, but that He was referring to receiving the gospel. He could have explained that after His resurrection when the church gathered it would celebrate the gospel (the life, death and resurrection of Jesus) by taking the bread and wine in Holy communion.
But apparently, God does not feel the need to explain himself to us. The good news is that God doesn’t call us to complete understanding on this side of heaven, but He calls us to have faith. You don’t have to fully understand to fully believe. So then, what do you do with those doubts and unanswered questions? Peter’s answer to Jesus’s question has taught me a lot about faith and doubt. Peter, and of course Peter would be the one to speak up, he starts with “Lord, to whom shall we go?”
You see first Peter acknowledges that Jesus is Lord. And I think that he is also saying that to walk away from Jesus is to walk toward something else. If in our lack of understanding of God we walk away from Him, the problem is that we still have the same doubts and questions and problems that we had before. Now, we’ve just got no solution. And then Peter says “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.” I think Peter is saying, “Jesus, You are the only one that offers eternal life.”
The word here “believe” may be better understood in our language and culture as “trusted.” The Greek word is pisteuo. And Peter is saying, that though we don’t really understand all that You are saying in the “eat my flesh, drink my blood sermon,” we do trust You. And we trust You because of who You are, the Holy One of God. So what do you do with our doubts Peter? He would say, you pick up your doubts and your unanswered questions and you follow after Jesus. Where else are you gonna go? Where else can you place your trust? For Jesus is the only One offering eternal life. And the good news of following Jesus, by faith, even when we have some doubts is that one day…all of your doubts go away.
That’s right. In Heaven, no one has doubts. In fact, no one has to “believe” because then we will see Jesus face to face. So as you walk through this life following after Jesus, and find yourself in places that may not make any sense to you, and you wonder what God is doing…may you pick up your doubts and by faith follow after Jesus.
And I promise, that the testing of your faith will DEEPEN your relationship with Jesus Christ.