When it comes to following Jesus, we’re going to be faced with making tough decisions. We’re going to have to make choices between what the world says is the best choice and what Scripture indicates is the right choice. Sometimes we’ll have to make these hard decisions and they will be costly. They will mean we will take hits in areas of our lives that we may not want to. These decisions may even cost us friends and family. Certainly this has cost Jesus “followers” and “disciples” in the past. We see that here:
As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”
Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”
– John 6:66-69, NASB
The ones that stuck with him, with the possible exception of Judas Iscariot, understood something the others didn’t. They understood that Jesus had the words of eternal life. In other words, they didn’t make it without Him. So even though what Jesus was saying was hard to accept (that He was God and not some unusually wise rabbi and that to get to heaven meant God was more than just a bystander but the primary actor), they were sticking with Him. They had surrendered their own agendas, their own feelings and priorities, and they had chosen to stick with Jesus, even though many had departed. This is what God expects from us, too.
When I think about passages like this, I think about the apostle Paul. He was, in his own words, a Jew advanced far more than most Jewish men his age. He had possessed a zeal to serve and follow God and was a Pharisee. I’m sure that when he chose to become a disciple of Christ it cost him friends from his “old” life as well as potentially members of his family. Throughout his letters you do see him indicating that the pursuit of the Gospel had been costly in terms of friends. For when the times became hard, some chose to cut and run. But not Paul. His conversion was genuine. And he saw it through the end, just as the other apostles did. He had weighed the cost carefully. You can see this in his letters. But despite that great cost, he still chose to stick with Jesus.
As Christians, we need to weigh the cost, too. And once we have, we have a sober decision to make. Do we stick with Jesus, responding to His question of whether or not we want to leave with a firm, “No, to whom shall we go?” or do we depart, as many did that day? Only Christ has the words and the means of providing eternal life. Surrendering is the only option to receiving it. Yes, the cost may be great. But the reward is greater. Paul understood that. Simon Peter did, too. One may have been a tent maker (but one trained by the best teachers of the Law) and the other may have been a simple fisherman, but they had it right. And we can, too. But it means putting everything on the line for Christ. It means surrendering everything. It’s the right way. It’s the only way. Others have walked it before us and found it to be worth it. The time is now upon us to walk that way, too.