66 After this, many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”In John 6, we observe Jesus feeding the five thousand, walking on water, and teaching about the bread of life. In the course of this chapter, Jesus says some words that are just a little too much for a lot of the people following him. But Peter’s confession teaches us how to trust Jesus so that we can grow to understand what he teaches us.
In the first section, Jesus has gathered a crowd that numbered five thousand men. Jesus multiplies five loaves of bread and two fish, into enough to feed the crowd as much as they wanted with twelve baskets left over. Jesus crosses the Sea of Galilee, but the crowd follows him to the next town. Then Jesus begins to teach them that there was more to the miracle of the bread than they realized. A loaf of bread will sustain your life until the next day. True bread, the Bread of Life, will sustain your life eternally. Jesus says “I am the Bread of Life.” What he says next sounds truly strange if you’re not already following his meaning. He says, “My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” After this, many who had been following him walked away.
Here is where we pick up in verse 66. Jesus turns to his closest disciples, the twelve, and asks, “Are you going to leave too?” Peter speaks up, “Lord, how could we leave? Where else would we go? You have the words of life.” Peter’s statement should not be taken to mean that Peter and the twelve immediately and perfectly understood Jesus’ teaching. Peter’s confession does mean that he trusts Jesus. Peter knew he couldn’t find the words of eternal life elsewhere. Notice verse 69: “we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Peter doesn’t have complete knowledge about Jesus’ plan. He hasn’t worked out all the details, but Peter trusts Jesus.
Faith, or belief as Peter puts it in John 6:69, is not simply accepting an idea without evidence; faith is not irrational. Based on this passage, I would offer the definition that faith is giving confidence where confidence is due, trust where trust is due. Peter originally followed Jesus on the testimony of his brother Andrew that Jesus was the messiah (John 1:41). Over the course of time Peter heard his teaching, saw his miracles, and began to see, based on observation and evidence, that Jesus was who he claimed to be.
If Jesus is who he claims to be, then to leave because of a difficult teaching is irrational. In the Christian life, we will all come face to face with teachings in the Bible that we find difficult to understand or put into practice. Peter writes this very thing about some parts of the New Testament, “There are some things in them that are hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16). But if we continue to observe and come to know and trust Jesus Christ, then these difficult teachings become clearer in their context. When we know Jesus and encounter difficulty, we can confidently answer with Peter, “You have the words of eternal life.”
Today’s Reading: Exodus 27, John 6, Proverbs 3, Galatians 2