We were told in John 2:23 that many believe in Jesus because of the signs He performed, but Jesus does not entrust himself to them (v. 24). Among the disciples are those who are truly born from above, and those who merely follow Him without being true disciples.
In John 8:31, Jesus makes it clear that true disciples ″hold to my teaching″. Today’s reading tells of some disciples grumbling at the harshness of Jesus’ teaching (vv. 60-61). With His perfect knowledge, Jesus knows about the grumbling and how some of them are not true disciples (vv. 64, 70), though they follow Him for now.
What is it they found so offensive about Jesus’ teaching? We don’t ultimately know, but in the previous section, Jesus made it clear that He is not a political revolutionary (v. 15); Jesus claims to be the Bread of Life (v. 35), through whom God intends to fulfil His purposes (vv. 29, 41). His claims are both exclusive-there is no other true bread or way to God-and humbling-those who come to Him can only do so on God’s initiative (vv. 37, 44). This might be the reason for their grumbling.
Jesus’ response is: if they are scandalised by His teaching, how will they respond to the greater scandal of the cross-that the Messiah must die in order to ascend to where He was before He came down to earth (v. 62)? Instead of grumbling, the true disciple will trust Jesus’ words, for they have their source in the Spirit who gives life (v. 63).
Some do not believe and Jesus repeats that true belief is due to the Father’s enabling (v. 65), a recurring theme throughout the gospel. Turning to the Twelve, Jesus enquires whether they too want to leave Him, and Peter’s response links with verse 63: Jesus alone has words of Spirit and life and He is God’s Holy One (vv. 68-69), the one uniquely set apart as the Father’s very own. Again Jesus reminds them that such insight is a result of His choice and that they are not to feel self-important about it, for one of them-Judas Iscariot, as it later turns out-is Satan’s agent (vv. 70-71). There are very clear parallels to Peter’s earlier confession and Jesus’ response in Matthew 16:16-17.What a mixture we are! However, true disciples will never turn back, for only the words of Jesus are from the Spirit and lead to life!
Jesus’ claims are both exclusive and humbling. How would you respond to them?
Have you made Peter’s confession in John 6:68-69 your own?