From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” [John 6:66-68]
Jesus’ twelve disciples were not perfect. They were, like us, broken people in a broken world, trying to do their best to navigate faith. And, like us, sometimes they said things that were foolish. Sometimes they misunderstood what was expected of them.
When Jesus started teaching that He was the bread and the Life, there was grumbling throughout the Twelve. They murmured and complained to one another about it. Whispers and speculation spread like wild fire, and soon many followers were turning away from Jesus.
The thing is that Jesus hears murmuring. He hears the uncertainty. He hears the whining. And, instead of ignoring it, He called it out. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” In some translations, He asks “Do you also want to go away?”
Real love gives an out. Real love lets you walk away if that’s what you want, and Jesus’ love for us is no different. He does not force us to stay, rather He wants us to. He wants us to long for relationship with Him like He longs for one with us.
Instead of walking away from Jesus, we need to walk away from people who are not living in Light. Jesus – in His perfect and holy love – does not keep record of our wrongs, does not hold us in a place of regret, but instead moves us to a place of grace and forgiveness.
So, when given the choice to leave, to walk away, to be released from the pressure that following the right path holds, we must remain firm and steadfast. Because then and only then will Jesus be able to do works through us.