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  • Writer's pictureTrey Talley

Not All who Claim to Follow Christ are Actually Following Christ

Updated: Mar 25

Throughout the book of John, we are repeatedly reminded that not all who follow Jesus and claim to be disciples of Jesus truly are. Nowhere does this truth shine brighter than in the sixth chapter of John. He opens the chapter by letting us know that thousands of people were so intent on following Jesus that they followed Him to a faraway, desolate area. John says there were 5,000 men, but if we added the family members, there could have easily been 20,000 people following Jesus! That is a lot of followers. Jesus then feeds them all through the supernatural multiplication of 2 small fish and 5 tiny loaves of bread. The people were so impressed that they desired to make Jesus the King of Israel and refer to Him as The Prophet that Moses had prophesied was to come. Later, the crowd even follows Jesus across the sea to the city of Capernaum, where they refer to Him as Rabbi, which means teacher.

Looking at the tenaciousness with which this crowd followed Jesus, we might assume that these were true followers and disciples of Christ. Yet, as Jesus began to teach them about His deity and that He was exclusively the only way to heaven, these “diehard followers of Christ” began to grumble, reject His teaching, and finally abandoned Him.

What happened?

The people were willing to follow Jesus as long as He was giving them what they wanted: supernatural signs, food for their bellies, and political power. They were willing to be His disciples as long as He taught only what they wanted to hear. But after Jesus claimed deity and exclusivity, John recorded that “many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.”[1]

Well, of the thousands that chapter 6 began with, how many followers and disciples of Christ remained? It appears that over 99% of the people stopped following Jesus. John only records 11 men who were true followers and disciples of Christ.

What’s the difference between a true and false follower and disciple of Christ?

Read Peter’s reply to Jesus after all the people had abandoned Jesus, and I believe you will have a good idea:

67So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:67-69)

Peter, as a true disciple, acknowledged that he was there for the teaching of Christ, unlike those who called Him Rabbi but rejected His teaching. Peter also agreed that Jesus was the Holy One of God and not just a man. Peter, as a true follower of Christ, realized that there was no one else to follow who had the “words of eternal life.”

John 6 is a great reminder that not all who claim to “follow” Christ truly follow Christ, and not all who claim to be “disciples” of Christ truly want to be discipled by Christ. False followers and disciples of Christ pick and choose what they want to believe about the person of Jesus as well as what teachings they would like to follow. A true follower of Christ continues to follow Christ and does not turn back when he does not get his way. A true disciple of Christ acknowledges that Jesus is God the Son incarnate, honors all of His teaching, and continues to follow even if he does not get his way.

Dr. Trey Talley, Lead Pastor and Elder

[1] John 6:66

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