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Lord, to Whom Shall We Go? You Have the Words of Eternal Life

9 March • Saturday of the Third Week in Lent


John 6:41-71

41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”


52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.


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

 

Jesus and the crowd have been debating the meaning of the Feeding of the Multitudes and now it culminates on the issue of Jesus’ identity.


Suddenly, it is no longer a matter of whether Jesus is ‘the prophet like Moses’ who can feed people in the mountains as Moses did.


Now, Jesus’ claim to be ‘the bread come down from heaven’ has taken the debate to a much higher level, where Jesus is portrayed as superior to the whole of Jewish faith and practice. Acceptance of Jesus, and faith in Jesus are necessary for eternal life.


How can Jesus make such grand claims about descending from heaven? (6:42) in the light of His earthly roots. The crowd knows Jesus’ earthly origins; the son of Joseph—and they know not only Jesus’ father, but His mother Mary too.


Central to the debate were the kind of claims made here about whether Jesus really had been sent by God from heaven, and whether Jesus replaced the Jewish feasts, customs, and laws.


The manna in the wilderness could not prevent the Israelites from dying ultimately. Even those who are devoted the Law and who thirst after wisdom, will hunger and thirst again and again.


But those who eat of the true bread from heaven, the bread of life in Jesus, will live forever (6:58).


Jesus’ hard teaching marked a mass defection of disciples: “From this time, many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” (6:66). Looking at a greatly diminished crowd, Jesus wistfully asked the Twelve, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” (6:67).


May Peter’s response be ours: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God” (6:68-69).


Prayer

 

Lord, where do we stand in the crowd who seek Jesus? Lord, where else can we go? You have the words of eternal life. Bread of heaven, feed me now and ever more (William Williams Pantycelyn, 1717-1791).


Action

 

Among the people who seek Jesus, there will always be those who want to make Jesus their king on human terms, those who murmur and complain, those who question (challenge) and oppose, those who initially follow, but later turn their back and betray Jesus.


On the other hand, there are also those who realise that Jesus is our only hope of life and receive (confess) the atoning sacrifice of Jesus as the Lamb of God, who comes to take away the sins of the world.


Would you be like Peter, whose great Confession echoes through the centuries: “Lord, where else can I go? You have the words of eternal life!”


Rev Dr Bobby Lee

Executive Director

Singapore Baptist Convention

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