One of the most heart wrenching questions recorded in the Bible came from the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ when He turned to the Twelve and asked, “Will ye also go away?” The context for this question was based on the reaction of many of the Lord’s disciples who heard Him teach on the plan of God for salvation by faith in Him and then on the doctrine of election. Jesus had just told His audience that He was the true Bread of Life that souls must eat in order to be saved. In His concluding remarks Jesus had stated plainly, “No man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.”
Many Jews did not like this teaching because it implied that some were not in true covenant relationship with God. That was an offensive idea to those Jews who prided themselves on being the children of Abraham, recipients of the Law of Moses, and righteous by keeping the holy days. “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (John 6:54).
As the disciples rose up to leave the presence of Christ, Jesus watched them go, one by one. The Lord did not forbid the people to leave because “Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.” He did not rush up to individuals and plead with them to stay and discuss in greater detail what He was saying. Jesus watched them go, but His heart was heavy. We know the sadness of the Lord because He was true humanity and the heart is always broken when fellowship is broken.
That the heart of Jesus grieved over those who murmured against Him is reflected in the question He asked the Twelve disciples. “Will ye also go away?” That is the question of a hurting heart.
Over the centuries that question has been asked countless of times to souls struggling with the teachings of Jesus, for it is not easy to believe in Christ and live out the ethics of the Christian life. The world, the flesh, and the devil are formable foes of the soul. It is for a good reason that gospel commands come such as the one in 2 Corinthians 13:5: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
Upon self-examination, the heart can hear the voice of the Shepherd asking His sheep, “Will you also go away?”
What is it that the disciples of Jesus walked away from?
First, the disciples walked away from love. The Bible says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). If there is any doubt of the love of God and the love of Christ, look again at Calvary where Jesus “was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
Second, the disciples walked away from truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The world, the flesh, and the devil will lie to the heart. They each promise freedom in rebellion. They promise freedom in promiscuity. They promise freedom in unilateral action. They promise freedom in boundaries outside the Word of God. They promise happiness outside divinely established institutions.
Third, the disciples walked away from fellowship. Fellowship with the Lord is precious and priceless which is why there is a blessing associated with it. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).
Fourth, the disciples walked away from those of like mind and faith. The disciples who went away from Jesus also went away from the Twelve. The prophet Amos asked, “Can two walk together, except they agree?” (Amos 3:3). The answer is no. The Psalmist understood this truth and pleaded with the Lord saying, “Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. 35 Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight. 36 Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. 37 Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way” (Psalm 119:34).
Finally, those who walked away from Jesus walk away from all possibility of happiness and joy (John 15:11).
To those who have turned away, or are turning away from the Lord to walk no more with Jesus and His disciples, hear this plea from the heart of God. “Turn ye, turn ye…for why will ye die?” (Ezekiel 33:11). My prayer for every one who names the name of Christ is that, not even for a moment, will the life that is lived be a life of wasted years.
“Have you wondered alone on life’s pathway,
Have you lived without love a life of tears,
Have you searched for the gray hidden meaning,
Or is your life filled with long wasted years?
Wasted years, wasted years, Oh how foolish,
As you walk all in darkness and fears,
Turn around, turn around God is calling,
He’s calling you from a life of wasted years.”