This is such an honest passage of Scripture – raw and gritty and real-life. Anyone who assumes that the Bible is a collection of made-up, pie-in-the-sky stories about easy faith and effortless belief needs to read this and put themselves in the moment.
Jesus has just finished teaching a really difficult teaching. Modern-day Christians don’t struggle at all with Jesus talking about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. We have years of Communion teaching to help with this. We know about the cross, and the empty tomb, and the Last Supper. Frankly, we may not struggle ENOUGH with the teaching ... but it’s part of Christianity 101. For the folks who first hard Jesus talk about eating His flesh and drinking His blood, however, this was extremely difficult ... and disturbing ... and gross. Suddenly many weren’t sure this was what they signed up for.
So how does Jesus respond? Interestingly, He doesn’t do what Church leaders today do every time there is a controversy on social media and people are criticizing some teaching of the Church. We quickly do damage control, almost every time. Instead, Jesus says (in essence): “There are lots of difficult things you’re going to hear, and lots of great things, but God isn’t the one who has to change. You are.” And that’s it. These people can choose to follow Him or not.
There is a sermon in that all by itself. But then comes the best part of the story. Jesus watches many of His followers walk away, and then He turns back to the twelve and says, “So, how about you. Are you going to leave, too?” And Peter says, “Lord, where else would we go? You’re the only one who has the words of eternal life.” Translation: “Jesus, we don’t get everything, and we don’t like everything, but we want to stay close to you because we know that you are the way to eternal life.” That’s faith.
Sometimes faith is heavy and burdensome. Sometimes you strain to hear God’s voice above the chaos of everyday life, or to find His presence when your heart is broken and your spirit is heavy. Even Jesus’ closest followers struggled sometimes to believe. But faith always comes back to Peter’s declaration in John 6:68: “Where else could we go? In what other place could we find Truth that TRANSFORMS and Grace that leads to ETERNAL LIFE?”
There is no other place; no other way. Faith doesn’t require us to understand all of the “whys” and “hows.” Faith clings to the WHO.