Kids Talk About God
Chapter 32 cover: Some Stop Following Jesus

Some Stop Following Jesus

John 6:60-71

Many Followers Leave Jesus

60 When Jesus’ followers heard this, many of them said, “This teaching is hard. Who can accept it?”

61 Jesus already knew that his followers were complaining about this. So he said, “Is this teaching a problem for you? 62 Then what will you think when you see the Son of Man going up to where he came from? 63 It is the Spirit that gives life. The body is of no value for that. But the things I have told you are from the Spirit, so they give life. 64 But some of you don’t believe.” (Jesus knew the people who did not believe. He knew this from the beginning. And he knew the one who would hand him over to his enemies.) 65 Jesus said, “That is why I said, ‘Anyone the Father does not help to come to me cannot come.’”

66 After Jesus said these things, many of his followers left and stopped following him.

67 Jesus asked the twelve apostles, “Do you want to leave too?”

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, where would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. 69 We believe in you. We know that you are the Holy One from God.”

70 Then Jesus answered, “I chose all twelve of you. But one of you is a devil.” 71 He was talking about Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Judas was one of the twelve apostles, but later he would hand Jesus over to his enemies.

Why do some Christians stop following Jesus?

“Maybe the things Jesus asks people to do are so hard that they do not want to do it. It’s easier to quit.” Maggie, 11

“They are self-absorbed. They think they can do life all by themselves. They think they don’t need God.” Dayanna, 11

“People get so obsessed with celebrities and electronics that they don’t think about God. God is more important.” Micaela, 11

“They do not read their Bibles. I think that the Bible feeds Christians and makes them stronger in their relationship with God.” Sally, 11

When Jesus told his Jewish disciples that they had to eat his body and drink his blood, they had a big problem with this. They did not understand that Jesus did not mean they had to eat his physical body and drink his actual blood. Jesus used eating and drinking as an illustration of believing in him.

Jesus said: “It is the Spirit that gives life. The body is of no value for that. But the things I have told you are from the Spirit, so they give life,” (John 6:63).

Remember how Jesus told Nicodemus that he had to be born again? Nicodemus thought he had to go back into his mother’s belly and be born again as a baby. Jesus used a physical birth to tell Nicodemus that he had to be born spiritually (John 3:1-18). Both are births. One is physical and the other is spiritual.

Remember the woman at the well? Jesus told her that he could give her living water so that she would never get thirsty again. She thought he meant actual water that you drink. Jesus used physical water as an example of a spiritual truth. Without Jesus Christ, people are thirsty in a spiritual way. Only Jesus can satisfy our spiritual thirst to know God and to find real meaning in life (John 4:1-26).

Jesus said: “‘But some of you don’t believe.’ (Jesus knew the people who did not believe. He knew this from the beginning. And he knew the one who would hand him over to his enemies.) Jesus said, ‘That is why I said, “Anyone the Father does not help to come to me cannot come.”’ After Jesus said these things, many of his followers left and stopped following him,” (John 6:64-66).

Some Bible teachers say that if you truly believe in Jesus, you will follow him as a disciple. Here we have some disciples who believe and some who do not believe. Many disciples left Jesus and stopped following him. This includes those who believed in Jesus and those who did not.

Do not be fooled into thinking that if you believe in Jesus as your savior, you will always follow him. Believing in Jesus is easy. Jesus did all the work on the cross to pay for our salvation. When we believe in him, we are born again forever into God’s family.

Following Jesus as a disciple will be difficult. It begins by denying yourself. You no longer do what you want to do. You do what God wants you to do. This will be very difficult at first. After you follow Jesus for awhile, you will learn that following Jesus is a lot better than doing what you want to do.

Jesus’ way will not be easy, but it’s always best. God wants to use you to bring the good news of the gospel to many people. Every Christian has a special place in the body of Christ. This is not a literal body, but a spiritual one. You will learn that you have spiritual brothers and sisters all over the world. You’re part of the big family of God.

“Then Jesus said to his followers, ‘If any of you want to be my follower, you must stop thinking about yourself and what you want. You must be willing to carry the cross that is given to you for following me,’” (Matthew 16:24).

“Jesus asked the twelve apostles, ‘Do you want to leave too?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, where would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe in you. We know that you are the Holy One from God,’” (John 6:67-69).

The Apostle Peter was right. The words of Jesus give eternal life. Jesus said he would give eternal life to all who believe in him. When we believe in Jesus, it’s like we are eating his words. They give us spiritual strength, health and energy kind of like physical food gives us physical strength, health and energy. This is what it means to eat Jesus’ body and drink his blood. Jesus gave his body and poured out his blood on the cross when he died for our sins.

The law that God gave through Moses told the Jews not to eat any meat that had blood in it (Genesis 9:4). So when Jesus told them to eat his body and drink his blood, they were shocked.

Jesus would have shocked his disciples even more if he had told them that he would die on a cross. Most of his followers probably thought that God’s messiah would defeat the Romans who ruled over them. Even though the prophet Isaiah wrote about a suffering messiah (Isaiah 53), they were not looking for a messiah whom the Romans would crucify.

Do not be surprised if Jesus tests you. Will you follow him when you do not understand everything? Will you follow Jesus when people do not understand you or say bad things about you?

If you follow Jesus all your life, God will bless and reward you. You can be sure that Jesus will reward you when he returns to set up his kingdom on Earth. Jesus said that he will reward something as small as a cup of water given in his name (Matthew 10:42).

“Then Jesus answered, ‘I chose all twelve of you. But one of you is a devil.’ He was talking about Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Judas was one of the twelve apostles, but later he would hand Jesus over to his enemies,” (John 6:70-71).

When the Apostle Peter spoke, he usually spoke for all the disciples. None of the disciples knew that Judas did not believe in Jesus. When Jesus said that one of the disciples was a devil, they must have been surprised. Judas fooled everyone except Jesus.

Jesus chose Judas to be one of his 12 apostles. Some Bible teachers say that there is no difference between being a believer in Jesus Christ and being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Judas was a disciple and one of the 12 apostles (Matthew 10:1-4), but he was not a believer in Jesus Christ. Clearly, they are not the same.

Some Bible teachers want you to believe that when God chooses someone, that is it. Because God is all-powerful, his choice is all that matters.

So what happened with Judas? Jesus clearly said that he chose Judas. Here is the big problem with the idea that God always gets what he wants by choosing. Judas did not choose Jesus.

God gave Judas and all of us the freedom to say “no” to him. Jesus wanted Judas to be one of his 12 disciples and an apostle. Jesus also wanted Judas to believe in him as his savior.

If Jesus knew that Judas would reject him, why did he choose him as one of his 12 disciples and apostles? God’s love is like that. Jesus loves even those who reject him. Because God wants true love from people he loves, he allows them the choice to reject him.

God makes millions of decisions every day that we cannot resist. For example, I could say that I do not want the sun to come up tomorrow morning. God has not given any of us the ability to keep the sun from coming up. God controls that.

Remember, once you believe in Jesus as your savior, you are born again into God’s family forever. You cannot prevent the sun from rising tomorrow by an act of your will. Neither can you undo a spiritual birth by making a decision. God gave us freedom to choose, but that freedom is limited.

We know that God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9, NKJV). God wants all people to change their minds (repent) about him and trust Jesus Christ as savior. Stop thinking you can work your way to heaven. Accept the work that Jesus did on the cross when he died for your sins. If we know that God does not will that any should be lost, then why do many people die without Christ? Again, God chose to not force his love on anyone.

Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to myself,” (John 12:32, NKJV). Notice the word “all.” Jesus draws all people to himself. Jesus draws everyone to himself and does not want anyone to die without him. If Jesus is God and all-powerful, why are there so many unbelievers?

There is no such thing as forced love. Jesus chose to let us choose whether we would accept him or reject him. True love must be free to say “yes” or “no.”

Think about this: Every day in many ways Jesus is drawing all people to himself. He shows them his power and beauty in creation (Romans 1:20). He appeals to their conscience, which tells them when they do something wrong (Romans 2:14-16). He sends Christians to tell them the good news of the gospel (Mark 16:20). The Holy Spirit is at work convincing people that Jesus is the savior of the world (John 16:5-11). Jesus said he came “to seek and to save that which was lost,” (Luke 19:10). Jesus does everything he can do to bring all people to himself, but he will not force his love on anyone.

Memorize this truth: “The greatest love people can show is to die for their friends,” (John 15:13).

Ask this question: As a Christian, are you willing to follow Jesus even when you do not understand everything he is doing?

Draw something to go with the headline.
Chapter 32 Bible coloring page: Some Stop Following Jesus

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