Shared below are brief excerpts of exchanges between Jesus and various groups of people beginning in John 6:35 and going through John 8:59. I'm sharing this because I found the thread woven throughout it all extremely fascinating. Most people don't want you to even come close to these words. There's a point to John's writing that he wants us all to see.
Please consider the words below and ask what is happening there. How do people respond to Jesus? How does Jesus respond to the people? I provide some thoughts at the end.
(Jesus' words are in italics. The words of the Jews, crowds, or religious leaders are in a normal font)
For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world...I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, 'I am the bread that came down from heaven.'
Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.
Not even his brothers believed in him.
My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.
Where is he? And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, 'He is a good man,' others said, 'No, he is leading people astray.'
Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?
You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?
Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.
Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.
He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.
So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.
If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.
When the people heard these words, some of the people said, 'This really is the Prophet.' Others said, 'This is the Christ.' But some said, 'Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?' So there was a division among the people over him.
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life...I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.
Where is your Father?
You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also...I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.
Who are you?
Just what I have been telling you from the beginning.
As he was saying these things, many believed in him.
If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you ail know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
We are the offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is that you say, 'You will become free?'
Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin...So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place with you.
Abraham is our father.
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?
I do not have a demon...I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.
Now we know that you have a demon!...Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?
It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, 'He is our God.' But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.
You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?
Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.
So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
Jesus was a polarizing person. To say he was a nice guy is to get him all wrong. He had hard, direct, confrontational words with everyone and never backed down from what he was communicating. He said he was hated, the world is evil, the very people who were supposed to know God didn't, that they were sons of the devil, liars, and murderers. If Jesus were in America today and had just as much fame as he did then, he would easily be one of the most offensive people alive. How dare he say people are evil??? Even when people believed, he pushed them to expose their hearts. Do we really think Jesus would come to the world today and tell us we're all good people and God is cool with us?
On the other hand, the groups were confused about him. One minute they want to make him king (John 6:15), the next minute they want to arrest him, and the minute after that they want to kill him. They're always asking, always trying to figure out who he is. Some think he's the Christ. Some think he's a good person. Others say his teaching is toxic and is only hurting people. Some think he's nobody. His brothers didn't even believe in him. Many think he's scum of the earth, demon possessed, and absolutely insane. Massive confusion and controversy surrounded Jesus his entire time on earth. The Bible does not paint a picture of a detached guru who everyone enjoyed being around. He was a guy that many wanted to see dead and soon they got exactly what they wanted.
These are the words of Jesus most people don't want you to read. These are the exchanges we never hear about when people try to use Jesus for their own teaching, pleasure, or profit. They can't handle a confrontational Jesus who calls people out. Who wants a Jesus like that? The question is, where do we see ourselves in these exchanges? Will you let yourself go there, or will you try to remain distant and say something like, "Jesus was a good teacher and I believe his teachings"? Or something like, "I'm not like those people in the crowds; I don't have a problem with Jesus"?
As C.S. Lewis said, "He has not left that open to us."
By His Grace.