24 April 2010

John 6:60-69

"Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.'" (v.68)


In this passage, we have reached the end of a sermon, or a section of teaching. John is maintaining that faith in Jesus Christ is better than the Jewish faith and people should therefore be prepared to follow Jesus. This emphasis was new and it caused problems for many who were following Jesus. It meant they had to make a choice: either to stay with their traditional belief or adopt a new one.

Many chose not to follow Jesus. The choice was too difficult. This response was one which seemed to provoke Jesus, who challenged those who were closest to him. Those closest decided to remain loyal.

In this passage we clearly see a view of the world common to Greek thought: human life is split into the physical and the spiritual, the spiritual being the most important and the physical, the flesh, being unimportant. Jesus had words of spiritual significance, and eternal life was for the spiritual, not the physical. John is saying that Jesus was spiritual, whereas traditional Judaism was worldly; that faith in Jesus was truly of God, Judaism wasn't. It is no surprise that many deserted Jesus.

Those who were closest to Jesus responded in faith. They were following Jesus, searching for the truth, and as Jesus promised eternal life they had nowhere else to go. There is always the challenge of true belief and convenient belief. True belief can lead to difficult choices, alternative ways of living, even unpopularity. Convenient belief can be changed or dropped whenever it gets too difficult. Following Jesus, for the closest disciples, was true belief, not convenience, and they followed Jesus to a death and the wonder and mystery of resurrection.

To Ponder

What are the things you are prepared to live for?

What are the things you are prepared to die for? What makes them different?

How do you know the difference between a convenient and a true faith?

Bible notes author

The Revd Malcolm Peacock

Revd Malcolm Peacock is a Methodist minister currently serving as chair of the Isle of Man District and superintendent of the Isle of Man Circuit. He has a deep and abiding interest in Celtic Spirituality and how the early Church in Britain interacted with local communities.