Scripture: John 6:60-71
Key verses: (67-68) “Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Will you also go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?’”
Reflection: One of the reasons the early Christian community was condemned by the Romans was because they were rumored to be cannibals. They “ate flesh” and “drank blood.” Yesterday’s reading from John detailed this command of Jesus, referencing the sacrament of communion. From a narrative standpoint, communion had not yet been introduced, so the gathered disciples are somewhat perplexed by Jesus’s words. Put another way, they were grossed out. They were so grossed out that they say to Jesus, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” Then we learn that “many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him.”
Are there things that Jesus says that are hard for us to listen to? Certainly language about eating flesh and drinking blood is hard to hear. What other passages come to mind? How about, “If your eye causes you to sin pluck it out.” (Mark 9:47) Or what about, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) Or how about, “‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34) “Give to everyone who begs from you.” (Luke 6:30) “Love you enemies.” (Matthew 5:44.) These are hard sayings, who can listen to them?
Some might hear these words and draw back. Many draw back from faith for other reasons. For some, faith seems silly. To whom do they turn? Ultimately to themselves. Their own intellect becomes their god. Anything beyond their reason, is not real. They see Christians as delusional. Others turn to the false gods of our culture; to money or power or prestige. They give their lives to the pursuit of these earthly treasures. Ultimately there is no life in them.
“To whom shall we go?” asks Simon Peter. Perhaps he realizes the truth of that great song by Bob Dylan, “You Gotta Serve Somebody.” The song begins,
You may be an ambassador to England or France.
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance.
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world.
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls.
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.
The song goes on to name numerous stations in life: business man, thief, doctor, chief, preachers, councilmen, bankers, rich or poor, blind or lame, living in different country by another name. All must serve somebody. It may be the devil, or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.
Hard as some of the sayings of Jesus may be, if life is what we’re looking for, where else can we go?
Prayer: Open our ears to hear, our minds to see, our hearts to receive your word to us this day, O Lord, even if it’s hard to hear. Amen.
Here’s a link to the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngXC2rAjFKA
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].