The Zombies are everywhere, waiting to consume the flesh of the living. Waiting to chew on the brains of the fallen. Sound gross? Of course it is, yet the horror of these fictitious tales of mayhem and gore are irresistible to many. If you need evidence of this just look up “walking dead” on google and you quickly realize how big a show that has become. Dare I say that I too enjoy a good zombie story from time to time. The idea of a post-apocalyptic world is both dreadful and curious to me. Such a scenario pits humanity’s survival on the cusp of total and complete decimation. It’s thrilling and captivates a wide audience because simply to survive, within these tales is a minute by minute adventure.
Jesus talked about zombies…ok maybe not in the context that we think. But the Jews gathered in the synagogue in Capernaum certainly thought that was what He was saying. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven, if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51) With bitter taste of distain and disgust on their tongues these Jews began to argue upon hearing Jesus’ words; “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” They had come to temple to hear the readings from the Torah and instead they hear of flesh eating deliverance from heaven. For a moment can’t you imagine hearing Jesus’ words and thinking the same thing? “How can this be?”
Certainly they would understand in context that blood offerings were given to atone for sin, as animals were routinely sacrificed for transgressions…it had become quite a booming business as well. But to hear one speak of consuming human flesh and drinking of human blood for eternal life set their teeth on edge.
“For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.” Jesus said. (John 7:55) Those who heard were more than perplexed. They didn’t get it. Jesus wasn’t literally speaking of a zombie smorgasbord when He spoke of His life’s purpose. Just like the teachings of His parables, those who heard often times didn’t understand, and those who actually had ears to hear, heard and pondered. Jesus was speaking and alluding to His willing sacrifice and eventual death on the cross for all of humanity…but most who gathered in the synagogue that day didn’t understand this spiritual zombie apocalypse.
But even many of Jesus’ own disciples who heard this teaching disserted Him following this metaphorical bloodletting event. Jesus even asked them before they departed from Him, “Does this offend you?” (John 6:61) The response wasn’t so much in what they said, but rather what they did: they left. Of course it offended them. In fact what Jesus said to His own culture offended many. Isn’t it interesting that when He spoke the truth, the truth was rejected and scorned by most. The very human side of Jesus must have obviously felt rejected and hurt. The very human side of Jesus must have experienced the pangs of loss when many of those who called themselves “disciples” turned their backs on Him. We might often overlook this very painful event of Jesus because of the content of His message. If we had to stand in Jesus’ shoes and speak this very hard message, knowing that it would probably offend and drive people away from us…would we have had the guts to speak it?
Yet Jesus knew and was filled with the Spirit who equipped Him for this painful event. He even identifies some of His own when He says, “Yet there are some of you who do no believe.” He didn’t sugar coat it, He didn’t seek to curry favor, He simply told them that they didn’t believe. The response resulted in painful rejection. “From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.” (John 6:66)
How often does God ask those He calls to declare His truth and speak hard teachings? If we are to be Christ-followers, these moments will also come to us. We can’t be afraid of facing rejection. Some Churches today have allowed sin of all kinds to continue because they are afraid to address them because it would result in people leaving their doors. Some Churches have curry favored and sugar coated God’s Word to make it more appealing to those living double lives. There’s a time to let things go, but there’s also a time to confront and face possible rejection. Jesus’ walking dead moment took some aback. His declaration offended many, yet He didn’t back down or back pedal from what He had said. As the crowd of resigned disciples walked away from Jesus, He even looked at the initial ‘twelve’ and said, “You do not want to leave too, do you?”
Jesus faced rejection and He knew He would offend many with the truth. Are we? I’m not implying that we are to deliberately find ways to offend people. But when the Lord prompts us to address issues or speak hard truths we ought to listen and obey. Jesus came to save humanity and to give the gift of eternal life. As Christ-followers, you and I are called to carry that message to the whosoever despite the throngs of rejections we might receive along the way. Our walking dead moments will come also…how will we respond?