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. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Just prior to this question, which Jesus asked the twelve disciples, there were other followers of Jesus who could not stand to listen to him telling them that they had to eat his flesh and drink his blood, and so they left and would not follow Jesus any more. They must have said as they departed that day, “This isn’t what we’ve been hoping for. Let’s go somewhere else to find our king.”
Have you not known times like that when you just wanted to “chuck it all” – to throw up your hands in frustration and say “forget it!” I expect we all have felt so exasperated with the world at times that we wanted it to stop so that we could get off. And yet these twelve did not leave in frustration. Little could these disciples who stayed with Jesus that day comprehend at that time what lay in his or their future when they refused to turn back and no longer follow him. Yet they felt compelled to say, “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.”
They hung in there because they believed that Jesus had been sent from God. It is doubtful that they found his sayings any easier to understand or digest than those who had just left. But I think they had no where else to turn. In fact, they often asked Jesus about what he meant by what he said. They surely didn’t respond like they did on this day because they understood his words better than those who left Jesus. But they knew one other thing that made all the difference in the world. That is what made them say that he had “the words of eternal life.” That difference was that: “We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” They put their trust in Jesus completely.
Isn’t that the difference which makes all the difference in the world for each of us when we get to one of those places where we want to throw in the towel, and give up, or walk away. Because we know that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God, and he came into our world to save us from our sins. He is the one who will be with us through any, and all our problems, dilemmas and predicaments we face. He is the one who loves us even when we are unlovable, and he never gives up on us regardless of our contentiousness or indolence. Christ draws all humanity and creation to himself and to God’s eternal purpose. This movement takes form and shape in the self-giving and reconciling life of our communities of faith. That is why Peter used the pronoun “we” instead of “I” in his response to Jesus that day. We, working together as followers of Christ cannot quit when the going get’s tough, because we can depend on Jesus our Savior, our Lord, and His Spirit guides us in times of trouble. Even when we cannot see the resolution to our dilemma we can trust that God goes with us daily, and the Holy Spirit is there to show us the way and give us strength to face whatever comes our way.
- What do you do when you want to quit, or walk out and give up on something?
- Do you seek more quiet time with Jesus, and ask for his guidance?
- Do you work and pray together with other Christians to strengthen your faith?
How have you experienced the presence of Jesus with you in the midst of difficult times?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.