As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” - John 6:66–68
What a perfect response from Peter. The context of this story is quite fascinating and revealing. Jesus had just completed His beautiful and profound discourse on the Holy Eucharist stating clearly that His flesh is real food and His blood is real drink and that unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you have no life in you.
As a result of His teaching on the Eucharist, there were many who “returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with Him.” In other words, Jesus’ teaching on the Eucharist was difficult for many to accept and believe.
Interestingly, after Jesus speaks this profound teaching on the Eucharist, and after many leave Him as a result, He does not backpedal or change what He said. Instead, He asks His Apostles if they wish to leave also.
This question by Jesus to the Apostles is important to understand. By asking it of them in a very direct way, Jesus is giving them complete freedom to choose. He does not pressure them to believe what He just taught. This is significant because the level of detachment that Jesus offers is a way of inviting a completely free acceptance, on the part of the Apostles, of His glorious teaching on the Eucharist. They are truly free to accept or reject it. It is this freedom that allows them to radically deepen their faith in Jesus.
Peter speaks up and gives a wonderful response. “Master, to whom shall we go?” These words of Peter reveal clearly two things. First, this was a difficult situation in that people were walking away from Jesus. But secondly, Peter and the other Apostles were aware that they must believe despite the difficulty. Just because many left Jesus and refused to accept His words was no reason for the Apostles to leave Him, also. In fact, we can hear in Peter’s words a manifestation of faith that they have come to believe in Jesus so completely that leaving Him would be utter foolishness. Where would they go? Why would they leave? Peter reaffirms his faith in Jesus even though following Him at that moment was not the “popular” thing to do.
Reflect, today, upon your own level of commitment to Jesus. Know that you are completely free to follow Him or to leave Him. But if you choose to follow Him, do not do it half way. Know that Jesus’ words are powerful, challenging and demanding. He wants you to believe in Him and follow Him with your whole heart and with profound commitment. Jesus alone has the words of eternal life and we must accept and believe those words with all our might.
Lord, to whom else shall I go if I do not follow You? You and You alone are the one whom I choose to believe in and follow. Help me to embrace all that You have taught and help me to freely choose You each and every day of my life. Jesus, I trust in You.