Paul, writing to the Church in Corinth, talks about how the cross of Christ, the death of the chosen one, was "a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Greeks." But even before his death, Jesus' own words were tough to hear for even those who had dropped everything to follow him.
Bread that is better than Manna.
No one can come unless the Father calls them.
All the stuff that today, in 2009, we have trouble with about Jesus, they had trouble with too. But Jesus does not back down. He doesn't hedge his bets, aiming for a good stewardship season, and say, "well, I was speaking in hyperbole" or "metaphor" or "John's redaction." Nope, Jesus says, "this is tough, so how about you, the 12, do you want to stick around because it isn't getting any easier from here. From here is the cross. From here is persecution. From here is exile and torture and death. From here is eternal life."
The Gospel is a scandal no matter how much we'd like it not to be. It is exclusive in that one MUST respond to God's call. It is difficult in that God's call is to a whole-life transformation. It is scary in that we have to give up everything we know. It is tough stuff.
But it is so good. So good that Peter, in response to Jesus says, "Who else could we follow? We've thrown our hats in with you, with your promise of eternal life. Where else can we possible go."
Today, I once again throw my hat in with Jesus. I choose the difficult path. I want to know eternal life today, tomorrow, and forever. Whom else could I follow?