Just like that, the crowd dissipated. Jesus’ words pierced like a bright light through their foggy misconceptions. The Hungry mouths that touched, chewed, and swallowed a miracle, were now brimming with grumbling. Tired feet that traversed around the lake were leaving a cloud of dust behind them as they left.
Briefly glance at John chapter six and you will see a chapter bursting with miracles and masses encircling Jesus. You will also see a header that appears misplaced. Jesus feeds over five thousand, walks on water, speaks, and then His following plummets. His sermon initiates an exodus.
Jesus turns to His closest disciples and asks the disheartening question, “Do you want to go away as well?” Peter, true to his character, immediately shatters the silence. “Lord, to whom shall we go?”
No one would deny Peter’s incredibly zealous love for Jesus. Peter was impulsive with his words and actions. He was a man who was ready in a heartbeat to demonstrate devotion for his Lord. There was such certainty in Peter that he trusted his Jesus would uphold him on the water instead of letting the sea swallow him. He would stake his own life on that fact.
I am often anxious to defend my faith and my love for Jesus. I would be quick to answer Jesus, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” However, that is not how Peter responds to Jesus’ question here.
“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” (John 6:68-69).
Peter’s response does not insinuate his tenacious faith. His response attributes Jesus’ words as the basis for remaining.
“So completely does everything depend on God’s mercy that even the apostles cannot be trusted. Not a single one of them can say: “I am so strong. I do not fear that I will fall.” The indispensable requisite is God’s blessing, or these words: “I chose you.” —Martin Luther
The only indispensable requisite with Jesus is, as Luther so beautifully states, Jesus’ words “I chose you.” We are fickle and faithless. Our relationship with Christ is not initiated by or contingent on our faithfulness. He alone is faithful in His love for us.
Jesus pursues Peter after having been denied and left by him. He comes not to condemn, but to comfort. Immediately Jesus grabbed Peter’s hand when he had trusted the wave’s ability to consume him rather than His Savior’s strength to uphold him. Jesus does not hesitate in His love for us.
Jesus has the words of eternal life—He is the Word that brings eternal life to Peter, to you, and to me. We are chosen and sustained by this Word. Jesus’ words alone continuously breathe life into us who were dead in sin.
To whom shall we go? Who could give the gifts He bestows? His words impart life. He not only credits us with His life but ascribes to us His death for our sins. “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Faith is Christ and His work for you. The center of your faith is Christ who demonstrated His extravagant love for you on the cross. Faith embraces Christ who chose and placed me into the loving arms of my heavenly Father.
Lord, to whom shall we go? You are the God who is with us and will never leave or forsake us despite our unfaithfulness. You have chosen us. You do not treat us as our sins deserve but gave your life for us while we were yet sinners. And You have the words of eternal life.
Kathy graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran College with a B.A. in Media Design. She is currently a writing contributor with Christ Hold Fast, Higher Things, and Coffee by Gillespie, as well as a freelance graphic designer. She is the co-author of The Sinner/Saint Lenten Devotional from 1517 Publishing.