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What will you do with the gospel?

In the sixth chapter of John's gospel, the apostle takes us to a scene where the disciples come face to face with one of the Lord’s most piercing questions. How they answer this question will be a defining moment in their lives, as it is ours: There on a grassy hillside in Capernaum, the Lord asks, “Will you also go away?” In other words: What are you going to do? It’s time for you to make a decision! For us, perhaps the Lord would phrase the question this way: “What exactly will you do with the gospel?” And we wonder, too: As you read through this website, what exactly are you looking for? Are you and I looking for some doctrine or church that pleases our fancy, or are we looking for the truth of the gospel and the church of our Lord so we can surrender ourselves to those things, regardless of the cost. The reason the Lord turns to His disciples with that question on that day in Capernaum is because hundreds of followers had just turned their backs on the Master and began their sad plights back down that grassy hillside. The crowd had followed for a while and were so enthusiastic and excited about the Lord and His teaching. But things change. The Lord’s demands are too great, and, when times get hard, they turn and go away. John records these people’s sad response to the gospel: “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it? … From that time many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him” (John 6:60, 66). What happens? The demands of the gospel, you see, become too great for the people. What Jesus teaches does not match up with what they expected, wanted, or liked. At that point, they turn and go away. They reject both Jesus and His saving gospel. Where they go, we do not know. We do know that “away” leads to many long, winding worldly roads. As that crowd turns their backs on the Lord, Jesus – disappointment written all across His face – turns to His disciples with that great question: “Will you also go away?” Such a piercing question demands an answer. It leaves no choice! Often it is answered not with the tongue but with the life a man lives. Too often the answer becomes that answer of the multitude: Turning away in search of something else. The apostle Peter must have fidgeted at the Lord’s question that day until he digs a hole in the ground with his foot. The question bothers him. It rings in his ears and his conscience, and he has no choice but to make a decision, right then! And he does make one. “Lord, to whom shall we go?” he says with all the resoluteness he can muster, “You have the words of eternal life” (v. 68). Oh, what a response! Peter has learned that – even if he should search every crook and valley of the world – in the end he would find nothing as fulfilling, precious, meaningful, and saving as He who stands in front of him at that moment – the Lord Jesus! I wonder, today, if you have turned away, if you’ve gone searching for something that will quench a thirst that can only be quenched by the Lord. There is no shortage of back roads that promise wells of satisfaction. But if you’ll really look at a life chosen apart from the Master, I know you’ll agree with Peter. In the end, worldly searches do not satisfy. The Lord alone “has words of eternal life!” Some years ago, songwriter J.B. Coates considered this compelling scene, and he put the dilemma into a beautiful song: Where could I go? Oh, where could I go? Seeking a refuge for my soul. Needing a friend to save me in the end, where could I go but to the Lord?

Ah, that’s a beautiful question: Where could I go? But we have to offer a gentle warning: The answer is not as easy as it seems. It demands a complete surrender, a change of life. It sometimes demands laying aside things we have heard from the time we were young and exchanging those beliefs for what Jesus teaches in His Word. If that’s what it takes, so be it. It is worth it. Are we willing to do that? Will you look and search, will you delve deeply into God’s Word and see what the Lord asks and demands of us? Regardless of what the cost is, the truth is this: In the end of it all, there really is nowhere else to go!

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