Because I still struggle with my sin nature (as Paul did in Romans 7:7-25), I have gone though times of wanting to walk away from Christ. In those times, I understood that He wouldn’t allow me to play with my sin in His holy presence. And in those times, I had to admit that I preferred my sin to fellowship with Him.
And yet, even as I made that admission, I knew I would ultimately run back to Jesus in repentance. Even though I enjoyed my sin, I knew that truth can only come through Him. I always thought of the time during His earthly ministry when the demands of His preaching alienated most of His followers.
66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” ~~John 6:66-69 (ESV)
Peter got a lot of things wrong during those three years before Christ’s resurrection, but this response was surprisingly on target. He stayed loyal to the Lord based on truth, not mere emotion.
Don’t misunderstand me: Peter loved Jesus with astounding passion. As Jesus prepared to go to the cross, Peter declared his willingness to die for Him (John 13:37). Clearly, emotion played a major role in Peter’s devotion to Jesus, just as it should play a major role in our devotion to Jesus. Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord with our entire being (Matthew 22:37).
But passion alone can’t keep anyone from abandoning Christ. Our love for Him must be firmly grounded in the conviction that His Word is truth.
Love apart from truth wavers in the face of opposition. Those disciples who turned and walked away from Jesus in John 6 had experienced some degree of emotion, even if that emotion resulted from their selfish expectations that He would create more miraculous meals for them. When they realized that He would make demands on them, their love vanished with amazing speed.
The Twelve remained with Jesus because they knew the truth of His Word. Confidence in His truth held them to Him. They knew that they had nowhere else to go.
I know it too.