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Unfollow

05 March 2023

From that time on, many of His followers turned back to their old ways of living. They would not go along with Him after that.  John 6:66 (NLV)

 

What would make someone unfollow Jesus?  This passage follows the miraculous feeding of the five thousand.  It is amazing that there are people who encountered Jesus, heard His teaching, and witnessed great miracles, and then “...refused to be associated with Him” (John 6:66, TPT).  A literal Greek translation reads, “many … went away to the things they had left, and no longer with Him were they ordering their manner of life” (John 6:66, Wuest Expanded).  Think about that: they not only withdrew from Jesus, but they also returned to the way they lived before they met Jesus.  The miracle of feeding 5,000 was followed by offence and division.

 

The Holy Spirit, through John, describes the people who chose to ‘unfollow’ Jesus as students and followers.  In the first verses of chapter 6, we see this multitude climb a hillside to reach Jesus and the Twelve.  In verse 15, this multitude is ready to declare Jesus as King and overthrow the government by force.  Finally, in verse 24, this mass of people travels by boat to where Jesus is.  These people demonstrate a commitment to following and receiving from Jesus at any cost.  According to their actions, they are very committed disciples of Jesus.

 

So, what happened?  Why did the multitude, who one day before was willing to mount an insurrection, return to their old manner of life?  The answer, of course, is simple.  It came down to motivation.  The 5,000 were motivated by selfishness (John 6:2,26).  Notice Jesus did not reject them.  Instead, Jesus asked them to change their thinking in verses 32-40.  Jesus said, “[My Heavenly Father] wants everyone who sees the Son to put his trust in Him and have life that lasts forever.  I will raise that one up on the last day.” (John 6:40, NLV).  The people had changed how they spent their time, energy, and resources.  We understand from the passage that they had left their former manner of life.  However, it seems they did not change their thinking.

 

They thought that following Jesus meant they were returning to the days of the Exodus when everyone ate manna (Exodus 16:35 & John 6:31).  The problem with selfish thinking is that it limits us and prevents us from the higher and better calling of God (Philippians 3:14).  Jesus explained that He did not want them to go back to the wilderness, but forward to the God kind of life (John 6:40).  To make this move, a change was required - they needed to change their ideas and view of the world.  For many, that price was too high, and they chose to UNFOLLOW Jesus.

 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:2 (NIV)

 

What is the thing you are unwilling to change your mind about?  For some, it may be unforgiveness; for others, it's tithes and offerings; what is it for you?  Do not allow the old manner of life to turn you from following Jesus into the fullness of what He has prepared for you.


Photo of Matt Hattabaugh

Matt Hattabaugh

GoChurch Beirut