…Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6: 68-69
You have the words of eternal life. John 6: 56-69 essentially reveals how the 12 apostles were selected, in John’s telling. They are the ones who remain after Jesus has talked to his many disciples and followers about eating His flesh and drinking His blood; the others walk away for good. Jesus’ way is not the easy way; not easy to understand, not simple to live into, a life that calls us to deny ourselves sometimes.
The desert fathers told a story. A group of monks asked the abbot from another monastery to come and judge a wayward member of their community. The abbot filled a basket before he began his journey, saying to himself that the sand in the basket represented the sin of the wayward monk. He journeyed toward the neighboring monastery where he was to pass judgement in front of the assembled community, pulling the basket of sand behind him. He had strategically placed holes into the basket before he started his trip, knowing that the sand would not survive the journey. When he arrived, and the assembled community of monks awaited his verdict/punishment on the wayward monk, he told them what he had done. When they asked why, he replied, “Our sin, before God’s mercy, is like the sand in this basket; it empties. God’s grace always overwhelms our sin.” He looked at the wayward monk and repeated Christ’s words to the woman taken in adultery: “Go forth, and sin no more.” There was no punishment.
The reason that Peter and the others understood that Jesus had the words to eternal life is because they had seen, heard, and experienced the mercy of Jesus in all manner of ways. He lived the good news of God who loves us and embraces us but also calls us to a repentance of hope; a change of life that is directed toward God’s call, God’s purposes, and God’s holiness. But even they did not know the magnitude of Jesus’ coming, the Light of the world, would save the entire world. The world of power trips merrily along but Jesus has saved us and undone that power’s hold on us. Eternity awaits, yes. But the kingdom is for us here and now; our forever life with God in Christ begins now