John 6:60-71: You Have the Words of Eternal Life
October 22, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Some of Jesus’ teaching is harder for people to swallow than other parts. Who could deny that it is good teaching to say “love your neighbor”? But how many are there who find it difficult to chew on that strong meat which says “but also love your enemy”? It is one thing to affirm the Christmas carol that Christ came to bring peace on earth; it is another thing to affirm the Easter truth that no one comes to the Father except through the Son. We should not expect that all truth is widely accepted, or judge whether something is true by the false token of its popularity. Truth is not a democracy, and the road to life is narrow and few find it.
This teaching here of Jesus was difficult even for the disciples to understand, mainly, it seems, because they were taking Jesus literally—how can anyone “eat” him! But Jesus’ words are “spirit and life”; he was talking pictorially of what it means to believe in Jesus and be saved. When you find a part in the Bible that is difficult to swallow, do not give up on it as if it were gristle or bone. Chew on it, and you will gradually discover that as your tastes buds improve with your understanding, underneath the apparently hard rock is actually the sweetest honey.
But, still, even after Jesus has explained, many of the disciples leave him. Take heart if you find that your ministry is going through a season when people leave you or do not like you; it happened to Jesus! The apostle Paul knew what it was like for everyone in the province of Asia to desert him; Spurgeon, of such great fame and popularity, still experienced a whole denomination unwilling to follow where he biblically led. The only way to avoid ever being rejected is to avoid ever leading: as soon as you say, “This is the way; walk in it,” you will find that some follow and others do not. Jesus talks to his core team, the “twelve,” and plaintively asks them if they are leaving him too. No!
While it is possible to be disheartened by critics, it is never wise to be led by them. Your critics may have truth to speak, but it is truth distorted by a carnival mirror, and the truth would be affirmed and already spoken by your dearest friends. A friend, one whom you trust, who knows that he can speak truth to you, a pastor who loves you, listen to them; do not take your lead from the siren calls of worldly, secular critics of the gospel or the gospel work. Jesus turns to the twelve.
And what an answer does Peter give! Peter, who sometimes is overeager, here displays the heart that Jesus so loved: “You have the words of eternal life.” This is why we follow Jesus. There is none other; only he has the words of life and life for eternity.
Whenever you feel tempted to give up on following Jesus, consider, then, your deathbed. Consider where else you can find one who has conquered death and risen again. Consider who else is the resurrection and the life. And come back to Christ for those words that heal, save, correct, direct, and give you life forever.
Even among the twelve, though, there sits Judas. In the mystery of providence, Judas was chosen by Jesus to perform a task of betrayal. He was the devil’s instrument, even though chosen to be such a vehicle by the Sovereign. Great evil does happen in this world, devilish, hellish evil; evil such as worthy of betraying the Prince of Life with a traitor’s kiss; evil such as we dare not speak, of abuse and torture. But however devilish a person may be, there is still one beyond it who is not blind to it, who himself suffered sin’s worst, that we might have heaven’s best, and who is able to work all things—even evil things—somehow, mysteriously, sovereignly, to our good, and such that we cannot be separated from his everlasting love.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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