“You do not want to go away also, do you?” John 6:67
Go away – You have followed Jesus for quite some time. You get a bit comfortable with His ways. You learn to expect a certain pattern of behavior. Suddenly, Jesus confronts you with a demand that seems incredibly harsh. Your anticipation of the direction He takes is thrown off center. You see that He is focusing attention on a detail that you would rather ignore. Many have stumbled over this very point. Now He asks, “Will you remain obedient to me or will you slip away?”
Context often tells us how we should interpret a particular word. Here the word hupago is rendered “go away” because it is in the context of many disciples who could not embrace the total commitment Jesus demanded. They were happy to be followers as long as Jesus was going their direction. But when His path took a turn that revealed their self-interests, they left him. Hupago implies a bit more than simply walking away. Hupago comes two words that paint a picture of slipping away in secrecy. These disciples did not throw up their hands and stomp out of the meeting. They slipped out the back while no one was looking. They secretly stopped following. They might even have remained in the crowd for awhile, but this is the moment when they decided that Jesus was not their man after all.
How do you reply when Jesus looks you in the face and asks, “Will you also secretly slip away from your faithfulness to me?” The question is framed in a way so that He expects you to say, “No, Lord.” But the question sends a chill through us nevertheless. There will be moments when Jesus presses us to follow Him down a road we would not choose. There will be times when it looks as if He is not going to be the leader we hoped for. There will be those circumstances when His demand will ask us to let go of that one tiny thing we have reserved for ourselves. We can still pretend to follow. Our feet can still move forward. We can still sing the hymns and say the prayers. But we will be surrounded by hupago, secretly leaving. He knows.
“Will you also choose to take a secret path?” May your answer be, “No, Lord. Even now I will be faithful to you.”