Getting Acquainted With Peter, 3: Declarations of Faith
- Wednesday, April 14, 2004
To Whom Shall We Go?
John's gospel does not record the previous statement of Peter's, but it does record another one. As it happens, this verse is my favorite in the New Testament scriptures.
Jesus and Peter had recently had their test of faith moment while walking on the Sea of Galilee. Peter is, no doubt, still moved not only by having gotten out of the boat and actually walking atop the turbulent waves of water, but also by having been caught and carried back to the boat by the Master when his faith became too weak for the moment. (But that's another story.)
Now teaching again "on the other side of the lake," (Capernaum) Jesus shares with the people whom He'd recently fed with a few loaves of bread. This time the people came in search of eternal food; they were spiritually ready - or so they thought - to hear more of the teachings of the Christ.
But these lessons would not come easy. Jesus began His series of "I AM" statements with "I am the bread of life." (John 6:35)
I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
The people began to grumble. Good heavens! Wasn't this the carpenter's son? Who did He think He was, declaring Himself to be the Great I Am?
Peter and the other disciples stood nearby, listening as Jesus spoke firmly to the group. Ah, yes. When they were physically hungry and Jesus miraculously made enough food to feed four thousand...well, that was one thing. But now, spiritually hungry, He declares that HE can be feasted upon and one will never, ever grow hungry again. Well, that's a completely different story.
Flesh to eat??? Is this was Jesus had just declared? The bread was His flesh and He would - what did He say? - He would give His life for the world?
Can't you just see Peter's expression? Perhaps he is exchanging glances with John or John's brother, James. After all, they were the inner circle of the inner circle.
Has our Lord lost His mind?
Should we slip quietly away; avoid the mob?
Uh, Peter, isn't your house fairly close by?
Still, Peter may have thought, let's think about everything that's happened recently. What we've seen and heard, no one else has. What we know, no one else does. So, if Jesus says He is the bread of Life...then surely He is. If He says His blood is real drink...then, so be it. (6:55)
The blood. Life, Jewish law taught, was in the blood. Nothing with the blood in it was to be partaken of. This teaching was truly hard to take. (6:60)
The crowd began to disperse. Those who'd been following Him with fervor became cold and distant, slipping away from the great synagogue in the little fishing village. As Jesus and the Twelve watched their popularity slipping away (though it was of no surprise to Jesus-6:64), Jesus turned to the Twelve.
Perhaps Peter's heart hurt for his beloved Messiah. His friend. The One he knew that he knew that he knew had come from the Father above. And, perhaps Jesus looked directly at Peter as He said, "You do not want to leave too, do you?" (6:67)
The Scriptures do not indicate that Peter even skipped a beat before answering. "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." (6:68,69)
Questions for Personal or Group Study
1. Who do you say Jesus is?
2. If challenged, could you defend your position?
3. The Messiah was prophesized about hundreds of times in the Old Testament. Check out just a few of them:
- He would be born of a virgin (Prophesized: Isaiah 7:14; Fulfilled: Matthew 1:21-23)
- Of the tribe of Judah/of the house of David (Prophesized: Genesis 49:10; Fulfilled: Luke 3:23, 33;/Prophesized: 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Fulfilled: Matthew 1:1)
- Born in Bethlehem (Prophesized: Micah 5:2, Fulfilled: Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4
- Would perform miracles (Prophesized: Isaiah 35:5-6; Fulfilled: Matthew 9:35
- Would preach good news (Isaiah 61:1; Fulfilled: Luke 4:14-21)
- Would cleanse the Temple (Prophesized: Malachi 3:1; Fulfilled: Matthew 21:12-13)
- Would first present Himself as King 173,880 days from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem (Prophesized: Daniel 9:25; Fulfilled: Matthew 21:4-11)
- Would enter Jerusalem as a king on a donkey (Prophesized: Zechariah 9:9; Fulfilled: Matthew 21:4-9)
- Die a humiliating death (Prophesized: Psalm 22; Isaiah 53 Fulfilled: Matthew 27:38, for one of many)
- Would rise from the dead!! (Prophesized: Psalm 16:10; Fulfilled: Mark 16:6; Acts 2:31)
- Ascend into Heaven (Prophesized: Psalm 68:18; Fulfilled: Acts 1:9)
4. Where is your Caesarea Philippi? (Or, place where it seems gods are worshipped)
5. Do you declare the Lord there? If not, how might you be able to begin?
6. Do you consider the teaching of Jesus to be hard?
7. When the going gets tough, do you want to tuck tail and run or do you, like Peter, wonder where else one might go and be with God?
8. Remembering that life in "in the blood," take a closer look at what Peter had to say in John 6. "Life," as Peter used it, is "zoe," or "full life with God." This is different than "bios," which means "physical life." Peter has fully grasped the teachings of Jesus in vs. 54. What is your concept of eternal life vs. physical life? How do you live them separately? Together?
Peter said, "We believe and know." To know (Ginosko) is to learn and perceive of a teaching. Write down why you believe and know that Jesus is the Holy One of God.
Award-winning national speaker, Eva Marie Everson's work includes Intimate Moments with God and Intimate Encounters with God (Cook). She is the author of Shadow of Dreams, Summon the Shadows and Shadow of Light. (Barbour Fiction) She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at www.EvaMarieEverson.com
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