John 6:60-69 NRSVue
60When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” 61But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who were the ones who did not believe and who was the one who would betray him. 65And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”
66Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” 68Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”,
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Some thoughts on this scripture
Dear Peter, for all his failings he speaks in memorable phrases. Lord, to whom can we go? In my faint-hearted moments I hear both Jesus' gentle voice, giving me the freedom to choose, and the strength of Peter's reply: You have the words of eternal life.
Maybe Peter repeated these words often to himself, 'you have the message of eternal life'. It can be a mantra of prayer for us, as can other favourite lines from the gospels or bible. The word of God is a personal gift; each of us has our favourite lines that fill our hearts in our time of prayer as we repeat them to ourselves.
The gift of Jesus is the life that underpins our human life. He has become one of us so that we become like him. His words lead us into a quality of life which gives meaning, hope and love in all we do. Nobody else can give what Jesus gives - a full meaning of life, seen in the example of his life. Time with him is always time well spent.
Love welcomes us to the companionship of Jesus. In the enjoyment and the challenge of such love, would we want to go elsewhere? Some did, and the evidence is that their departure from Jesus did not bring happiness. What Jesus offers reaches deep into all our human desires, joys, tears, laughter and love.
Jesus, seeking to lead his hearers beyond dependence on earthly bread, finds himself misunderstood by many of those who had been disciples. They turn back. Am I ever confounded or scandalised by his words? Do I ever turn back?
Peter may not understand the full import of what Jesus is saying but he knows what is essential: 'You have the words of eternal life'. To follow Jesus is to walk forward in faith, understanding that other would-be bearers of truth can never satisfy us. It is to say, whatever happens, 'You have the words of eternal life'.