Sunday

“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.’” (vv. 68-69)

John 6:56-69 Sunday 23 August 2015

Psalm: Psalm 103


Background

These are the final verses of a long chapter in John's Gospel.It starts with an account of the feeding of a great crowd on theshore of Lake Galilee (John6:1-15). This story is recorded by all the Gospel writers, butJohn gives it a spiritual dimension. This is not just about feedingthe physically hungry, it is about offering spiritual food.

Note possible flashpoints here - there were crowds of people;they wanted to make Jesus their king (verse 15); the people madestrenuous efforts to find him after he has crossed the lake and,when they found him, they engaged him in theological debate, as didthe Jewish authorities.

Notice, too, the twists and turns of the argument as differentquestions are met with answers which are always given on adifferent level: physical needs are one thing, spiritual realitiesare another (verses 26-27).

Perhaps some of us are so familiar with these words that we donot recognise the shock which Jesus' audience must have experiencedwhen he spoke to them about eating his flesh and drinking his blood(verse 54). For the Jewish person, this was an appalling thought:the Hebrew scriptures expressly forbade eating the blood of anyliving thing (cf Deuteronomy 12:23), and to eat human flesh wasregarded part of a divine curse (Leviticus 26:29).

No wonder that the disciples, faced with a scandalised crowd andantagonistic authorities, grumbled that this was all too difficultto understand and to accept; for some of them, it was just too much(verse 66).

Peter is often remembered as the one, who, under pressure,denied Jesus (John 18:15-27). Here, however, underconsiderable social and religious pressure, he was the one whorecognised what is being said as deep spiritual truth. His is aneternal question, 'Lord, to whom can we go?'


To Ponder

  • How do you take on board new spiritual insights, even when theyseem to be expressed in language which sounds offensive?
  • Peter showed great courage in the face of angry religiousauthorities - think about times when you may have found yourself atodds with what the Church appeared to be saying about any givenissue.
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