Monday, April 18, 2011

Words of Life

{John 6:66-69; ESV}
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

Jesus has just finished giving the people a hard teaching. He told them that He was the bread from Heaven, and if they hoped to be part of God’s Kingdom and live forever they had to eat of His body. This was a teaching that the people did not understand, and they left grumbling. They had pursued Jesus with the hope of making Him king, and now they left His presence confused.

I think we can learn a very important lesson from the verses leading up to John 6:66. Here is the lesson we need to remember: we should never be afraid to tell people the truth.

 In terms of contemporary evaluation Jesus has just preached His worst sermon. He started with thousands of followers, and ends up with just a handful. This sermon drove off thousands of people, and Jesus let them go. By doing this Jesus demonstrates to us that faith is more important than numbers. We often get this the other way around. In our churches we will sacrifice faith for a large attendance. I have been part of church families where you have to walk on egg shells when certain people are around because they might get mad and leave the church.  The result is that the rest of the people are left unchallenged by the truth. Sometimes the best thing that can happen to a church is for the right people to leave.

As we begin to look at John 6:66-69, we notice that Jesus seems to invite His twelve disciples to leave as well. I would suggest that this question Jesus offers is an opportunity for the Twelve to evaluate why they are following Jesus. Why should they continue to follow this man who made such outrageous claims about Himself?

I think life often throws at us circumstances which provide us with opportunities to do the same thing. It could be when your husband/wife is diagnosed with cancer or when you have been unemployed for 6 months and a new job is still now where in sight. I would bet that you have had more than one crisis of belief that has forced you to examine your faith. I know I have.

That is why Peter’s words ring through the centuries. The reason we remain faithful to Jesus is because we have discovered that He alone has the words of life. We have come to know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and it is through Him that we have hope for life.

One of the thoughts that I had which helped me through my last crisis of belief 3 years ago was: Jesus brings meaning and understanding to life. In other words, it wasn’t about evidences and arguments, but it was the difference that Jesus had already made in my life that reminded me that faith in Jesus was worth holding on to. Isn’t that what Peter was saying? What they had already heard, seen, and experienced validated their faith in Jesus. They realized that only Jesus had the words of life that they needed. I pray that we all come to that same realization.


Liane said...

For sure - not everything that looks bad IS bad. We must ask God for His perspective.

Paul Steele said...

That is right. When we see things only from our perspective there is a lot that we don't understand. That is why it is so important that we go to the One who has the very words of life. Only Jesus can provide the perspective on life that we truly need.

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