“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.”
Defectors, or deserters, have always been a problem. Every army and every movement will have its defectors. It was so then, and it is no different now with the followers of Jesus Christ. In our text, many of those who had been following Christ went back and “walked no more with him.” This was no surprise to Jesus. He knew from the beginning who would believe and who would remain with Him. He knew who His betrayer would be.
It is sometimes hard on the rest of us to see those walk away that we thought would be loyal unto the end. We have all experienced this disappointment. I remember many years ago when a relatively new Christian shared with me the great disillusionment it was to him when he saw someone turn away whom he thought would never fall. My advice was simple, and I don’t think it has changed a great deal. I said to him, “We have to keep our eyes on Jesus. People are human, and they will make mistakes. But Jesus will never fail us.” I have seen many people turn away from the strait and narrow way over the decades. Some have really surprised me, but Jesus has never disappointed me.
Why did these leave off from following Jesus? For one thing, Jesus had been teaching some hard things. The reason some defect is because the demands of following Christ become more than they are willing to bear. We should resolve to follow the Savior, even if it requires sacrifice. Jesus also taught them that “the flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:63). This is another thing that some have a hard time accepting. It is offensive to some to think that there is nothing that we can do in the energy of the flesh that is worthy of commendation. The disciples of Jesus Christ are called to deny themselves. These teachings will sometimes separate the sincere disciples from the surface disciples.
The question was then posed to the twelve, after the defection of the multitudes, “Will ye also go away?” (John 6:67) Peter gave the answer that should be our heartfelt response: “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). There is no place that we want to go, and there is no place worthy of going. We have no interest in deserting Him. He is the Truth. He is the Lord. He is the Way of eternal life.