Reflections on John 6:67-69

So Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?", and Peter answered him "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."

The first thing that struck me about these words was that Peter says to "whom" shall we go, not "where" shall we go. He seems to have the idea that we need not only good things, or a good situation, or a good place to be, but we need a person. Our deepest needs can be met only by a person, because we are people and God is a person.

Later, what began to amaze me was the question Jesus asks: "Do you want to go away as well?" The context of this question is that Jesus has just spoken some words about how he himself is the only way for people to find life. There had been crowds of people following him, because he was healing and feeding them. Then he tells them he is the "bread of life" and that they need to eat his body and drink his blood in order to find life, and the crowds are shocked and disturbed, and they all leave.

So, everyone has just left, and the Twelve are still there, and it is at that point that he asks the question. What kind of person does that? He doesn't seem discouraged at all that all the crowds just left. He doesn't seem to care about his popularity, or even to think them leaving was a failure of any kind. 

He even seems confident that he could continue his mission even if the Twelve leave. He is not asking out of desperation. He is still inviting them to be part of what he is doing. Even in this moment, the Twelve need Jesus more than he needs them. He doesn't need them. If they were to walk away at this moment, Jesus would still accomplish his purposes without them. The disciples, not Jesus, would be the ones to suffer incalculable loss if they walk away now. 

It's almost as if he is asking them "Tell me what you're feeling right now. What do you think about me now? Does it discourage you that all those people left?" It's incredible that in a moment where another leader would probably be discouraged and think that they did something wrong, Jesus is still loving and serving his disciples, even as they are almost certainly wavering to some degree in their loyalty to him. 

He doesn't ignore that many people left. He talks about it openly, and he even brings it up. There is much to be learned here. God is sovereign, even when a situation looks bleak.  Jesus finds strength, peace, and confidence in this. We can find it too. Jesus is able to love and serve in the midst of chaos and what looks like failure. Through his power, we can do that too. Furthermore, even if we do not imitate Jesus well, still he is leading us with strength and love.