How so often man jumps headlong into a project, a mission, a cause or an academic course only to find soon after, that reality does not match his expectation. Coming face to face with misplaced expectations, desertion soon follows. When Jesus arrived on the scene at modern day Palestine, he collected a large group of followers, most of who were attracted to his miraculous works and charismatic personality. However, it soon became evident that following Christ, which was at the heart of his message, would be anything but easy. John 7 gives an interesting account of what followed.

Realization soon dawned that Jesus demanded of them much more than adulation and an eager addiction to the goodies that he provided. He demanded of them hard discipleship and their very lives as they committed to uniting themselves with them in obedience and promised them nothing but eternal life.

54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. ——60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?——-63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. ——-66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

The modern day church is no different. Those attracted to Christ or born in Christian homes make it a habit to follow him for the worldly things he offers- the healing from sickness, the protection in the face of trouble and help along the way as man journeys through life. But at some point along the way, it becomes obvious that Jesus makes great demands of our lives- to obey him, to follow him and to live sacrificially for him. None of these are easy and then arrives the decision time. Would you still follow him if the supplies of all goodies are cut off and following him does not give you any worldly advantage? Many turn away. They might continue to participate in church activities and keep their ‘Christian’ ties, but when man decides in his heart not to follow Christ sacrificially, it is a desertion that inexorably draws his heart away from God.

Jesus’ question to his disciples is poignant.

67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

Like Peter, those who choose not to desert Jesus are those who wisely fix their eyes on eternal life. If it is eternity that beckons you, then the troubles of this world will not hold you back. If it is eternal union with God that is most valuable to you, denying yourself, taking up the cross and following the One and only who can give eternal life, becomes the most natural thing to do for a disciple.

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