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8 Mar | Jesus…“Do you want to Go Away as Well?” Peter…“Lord to Whom Shall we Go?”

8 March • Wednesday of the Second Week in Lent


John 6:60-71


60. When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

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.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.

 

Meditation

The passage above conveys to us the reaction of Jesus’ audience to his teaching at the Capernaum synagogue (see John 6:24–59).


Whether expectedly or unexpectedly, the reaction to Jesus’ ministry has been hugely negative. John the gospel writer tells us that among those who turned back and walked away from Jesus were many of His own disciples (v.66). They may well have been the very same people who had enthusiastically flocked to Him. What had gone amiss? According to John, the defectors had found Jesus’ teaching “hard”—not hard-to-understand but hard-to-accept. Hence the mutter, “Who can listen to it?” (v.60).


Seeing the mass defection, Jesus asks the group of disciples who remained: “Do you want to go away as well?” (v.67). This turn of event seemed to Him an opportunity to test the faith of His innermost circle of disciples, now designated as “the Twelve”. The response to Jesus’ challenge comes swiftly from Simon Peter: “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.” (vv.68– 69). Notice that Peter uses the plural pronoun for he is speaking on behalf of the other disciples. In that glorious response, he disavows any thought of defecting on these grounds:

  1. that there is no one else to go to;

  2. that the words of Jesus are living words in that they deal with the subject of eternal life. They are no mere pleasantries or dead utterances. To those who hear and believe, they convey eternal life.

  3. that Jesus is the Holy One of God. This is a conviction that comes about as a result of the disciples’ personal faith (v.69).


A final thought for today’s readers: lest we ground the basis of our allegiance to Jesus strictly on our own insight or ability, we are reminded that we owe it to Jesus for choosing us in the first place (v.70).

 

Prayer

In light of Your divine goodness, there is no one else I can follow. Keep me faithfully in Your paths. The words that You have spoken are spirit and life. Grant me the grace to receive and reflect on them and so learn to inherit the everlasting life which You have promised to give. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

 

Action

Being a Christian can be hard at times. Do you ever think of throwing in the towel and walk away from your faith? In Peter’s glorious response to the Lord’s question “Do you want to go away as well?” we are given some good grounds for not wavering in or defecting from our faith. Go over what was said by Peter carefully and resolve to stay true to Jesus.

Dr Lim K Tham, PhD

Dean

Discipleship Training Centre

He had served as General Secretary of the Bible Society of Singapore, as General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Singapore, and as a member of the Presidential Council for Religious Harmony. He had studied at the universities of Durham, Tubingen and Edinburgh.

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