60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Thoughts: The teaching of Jesus was not "hard" in the sense of difficult to understand, but "hard" in that it was difficult to accept (Greek "skleros"). Jesus was claiming his rightful title of divinity- being sent from God to them- not just as a propet but as the bread of life. The problem with Christianity is not the intellectual problem, or even the moral excuses, but the claim that Christ is God. This is the great turning away- not by the Pharisees, but by many who liked Jesus' power (the miracles), and liked Jesus' teaching about love and ethics, but did not believe his claim to be the source of life. To be a lasting disciple means to believe Jesus- as Peter says, "has the words of eternal life." Yet not long after this the twelve would leave as well- deserting him in the Garden.
Prayer: Lord, give me grace to be strong and faithful to you in the hard times, when things are hard to understand, and even when many other desert you.
John Calvin Abridged: It was in their heart and not in the saying that the harshness lay. Whoever submits with true humility to Christ will not find his sayings disagreeable. This doctrine does not wound them as much as expose the putrid ulcer in their hearts. Christ is veiled with humility at this point, but later his resurrection and ascension proves the doctrine he had just mentioned. "The Spirit gives life" reminds us that without the Spirit we will not come to Him. Some say this sermon should not have been preached because it offended many. But the doctrine of Christ, when truly preached, will be a stumbling block to many (Isa. 8:14). We should rightly divide God's Word and not be dismayed by its offenses. If it happens that many apostatize, let us not be disgusted at the word of God, because it is not relished by the reprobate.