I love Peter. We all admire Paul for his undying pursuit of Christ. But most of us identify with Peter — and mostly the Peter before Christ’s ascension. We get that guy because we’ve all been that guy. Maybe some of us still are that guy. We might not have had the opportunity to rebuke Christ in person, but I know that I’ve done it in other ways. We don’t really get it. We think we do, but, um…not so much.
Peter definitely has those moments where as a Christian reader 2,000 years later, I want to shut the Bible to save him the embarrassment. It’s rough. It’s hard to read because we know that feeling. Ouch. But then he has these amazing moments when you see what Christ saw in the charcoal:
As a result of this [Christ’s hard-line teachings] many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”
Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:66-68).
This is one of my favorite passages from the Gospels. I think we get an honest glimpse of Christ’s humanity. Christ wasn’t the savior that the Jews wanted at that time. He wasn’t a political revolutionary as they had envisioned. Not only that, but Christ was this Rabbi who had a tough interpretation of the Law and the Scripture. He came and taught a way that was so much beyond the human conception of life and salvation. And so, those who called themselves disciples rejected His teachings.
The teachings were too much, too radical, too hard.
And I can see in Christ’s words a little hurt that His teachings, His purpose was being rejected. He gives His 12 the opportunity to leave.
Do you want to leave Me too?
Christ knows that He’s preaching a hard line. There’s no gray. It’s tough. He gets that it’s a hard road living out His words. But it hurts when we’re rejected. Especially when we’re rejected for who we are.
Peter’s reply is beautiful. In this moment, he recognizes Christ for the Messiah.
There’s no other Rabbi to follow.
I have these moments when it’s feels like it would be easier to not have to live by Christ’s words. Wouldn’t it be easier not to pray for your enemies or those who persecute you? Granted, I’ve never faced the out-and-out rejection and persecution so prevalent in other centuries or present-day parts of the world. But it would be easier not to have to go the extra mile. “Above all, put on love”? I’d rather not. It would be easier to seek material comfort over spiritual things, right?
But the crux of the matter is that “easy” isn’t where I find eternal life. The true God isn’t in materiality. Where can I go? What teacher can really meet my spiritual needs? Do I see that He is the Messiah, “the Holy One of God”?
He has the words of eternal life.
Peter saw it.