The words of eternal life
April 24, 2021
So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.” —John 6:67-68
Whenever I waver in my faith, I think of Jesus’s disciples and close followers. They heard Jesus teach and saw him perform miracles, and still they doubted. So maybe we should cut ourselves a bit of slack if, in our time, we sometimes struggle.
In John 6, Jesus is on a bit of a roll. He’s offering some tough teaching. It’s hard to get emotion from reading the scriptural text sometimes, but Jesus seems cranky in my reading. It’s not surprising he might be a bit testy. Verse 66 says, “many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.”
So Jesus turns to his disciples, his companions and closest followers. You can hear the poignancy in his question: “Do you also wish to go away?” Good old Simon Peter, who sometimes gets it spectacularly wrong, is also the one who gives the superstar answers at key moment. “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
It’s a brilliant reminder for us as individuals and for the whole church. Jesus has the words of eternal life.
It might seem tempting for us to pay attention to things other than the scriptures. The ways of the world can be alluring. But to find eternal life, we must hear Jesus. That means we need to listen to him, to read the scriptures.
In many places, our churches are dwindling. Perhaps we’ve forgotten what we have to offer. If we think a church can thrive by offering good feelings, a few good works, or a cozy set of friendships, we will discover that people can find all these things in other places much more attractively packaged than in the average church.
These days, when people turn up at our churches, they probably aren’t looking for earthly things. Even if they can’t articulate it, they might well be saying, “Church, where else can we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Let us who inhabit the church make sure that when people listen for Jesus’s words of eternal life in our church, they hear an invitation to a transformed life. Let us make sure the sacraments are rightly offered and the word is rightly preached. Let us testify to the world that we have come to believe that Jesus is the Holy One of God.
Mosaic of Jesus Christ from Wikimedia Commons.