“‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve. ‘Simon Peter answered him, ‘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.'” (John 6:67-68)
“Where do you go…?” That is a question Robin and I ask over and over after we have just moved. “Where do you go for groceries?” “Where do you go for an evening out?” “Where do you go to get your license plates changed?” “Where do you go?” Peter asked a similar question. “Lord, to whom shall we go?” He asked because others had decided to stop going to Jesus. “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?…From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:60,66).
When these disciples called Jesus’ teaching hard, they didn’t mean that it took a lot of work to understand. They understood what Jesus was saying only too well. They were in the same camp as Mark Twain centuries later: “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.” That was the problem.
By hard they meant the opposite of soft. It was hard, and rough, and unpleasant. This teaching had no give to it, there was no room for compromise. Jesus was too dogmatic in the way he presented his ideas, too unyielding as far as they were concerned.
You see, sometimes we want to find a little room in our faith for some contribution we can make to our own salvation. When Jesus teaches about the law, that is fine. That is something we can do. But don’t tell me I have nothing to contribute. At other times we would like some room to pick and choose from the things Jesus taught. That we should put our faith in Jesus only, that we must accept him in total, that is a “hard teaching.” For many it is a deal-breaker. They “no longer followed him.”
Not for Peter: “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.”
Peter realized you can find the word of life in no one but Jesus. That’s not merely a message Jesus possesses. It is the story of his own life, and work, and meaning. The Bible is God’s account of how the whole history of the entire world revolves around Jesus of Nazareth, the “Holy One of God.” It introduces us to the God-man who paid for our sins. We believe it, not as a possibility, but with the conviction that Jesus is both Lord and Savior. We know him, not just as we know the other famous figures of history. We have met Jesus in this word, and he has become a personal friend, an intimate part of our lives.
That is an astounding truth considering that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah, the one God set apart to obey the laws we can’t keep, pay the penalty for sin we can’t pay, and overcome the death for which we have no other cure. For knowing God, for having life, Jesus is where to go.