Dissent among the followers! That’s what Jesus experienced as He proclaimed that He was the bread of life. Like the bread of life given to the people of Israel during their exodus, Jesus clearly stated that He came down from Heaven.
Well, that was a deal breaker, at least for some. Jesus was the carpenter’s son, the neighbor boy who played with our kids, the squirrely twelve-year-old who got left behind in Jerusalem one year. And he was saying he came down from Heaven?
Jesus explained further, finishing with this:
I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh. (John 6:51)
Well, that made the bad, worse. Was he saying they should eat his flesh? What kind of a kook were they following? Time to make a hasty exit. The things he was saying were just too hard. Too hard to be believed? Too hard to obey? Too hard to understand? One commentary at least says the followers understood what he was saying, but they couldn’t accept those statements. Whichever way, many left. So many, in fact, that Jesus turned to the Twelve and said, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” (John 6:67b)
That’s when Peter came through, as he did from time to time. What teacher, what Messiah claimant could we possibly go to? You’re it. “You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68b)
Peter’s declaration is as true today as it was in the first century. Our postmodern society with its relativistic view of reality postulates that there are many ways to god, that what your culture has taught you to believe is no more “right” than what someone from India or Saudi Arabia or Chad or Taiwan or Costa Rica has come to believe because of their culture and history and heritage. “Truth” is a malleable thing based on our understanding which has been molded by our culture. So Americans are likely to claim the Christian god, Indians, the many Hindu gods, and so on.
But Peter’s question seems to cut through the relativism. Where are we supposed to go? You have the words of eternal life. Implying that no one else does.
Jesus spoke authoritatively, and His followers, then and now, believe with assurance, conviction, standing in contrast to those who hope one day to reach Nirvana or Enlightenment or the highest level of Paradise or the third Heaven or the place of the 144,000. Have they done enough, they wonder? Have they been good enough? Have they been generous enough? Kind enough? Have they done enough religious activity?
The Christian has no such concern. We know the answer—we haven’t done enough and, in fact, can never, if we lived life over again a thousand times, ever do enough. We are not banking on our own actions, because that’s futile. Instead, we are counting on Jesus Christ, the one, the only one, who has the words of eternal life.
Without Jesus, we are exactly like everyone else. With Jesus we are changed because we are forgiven. Not on the bases of anything we’ve done from our own store of good deeds. No. We’re made new because Jesus gave us the robe of righteousness. Our stinking garments made up of our best efforts that got us nowhere, are done away with. Now we are clothed in Christ’s clothes.
It is on the basis of His provision for us that we have the assurance of Heaven. We don’t sit around wondering who’s good enough to get in. We glory in the fact that all who have been baptized into Christ’s death will be united with Him in the likeness of His resurrection. (See Rom. 6)
After all, there’s nowhere else to go, no other god to give us salvation. God alone is LORD (Nehemiah 9:8).
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
He also is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the LORD made the heavens. (1 Chronicles 16:25-26)