Summary: To whom to we go is a great answer to a very difficult question, it sounds almost defeatist, but it is really a revelation so strong that it will change your life so that we are no longer slaves to this word, belonging to another.
This sermon was delivered to St Oswald’s in Maybole, and St John’s in Girvan Ayrshire, Scotland on the 26th August 2012; both churches being Scottish Episcopal Churchs in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries.
Our text for this mornings sermon is taken from the Gospel of John Chapter 6 verses 56 to 69.
Jesus said, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.
When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”
Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So 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.”
Prayer: In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit let these words bring you honour, and free us from all slavery in the name of Jesus, Amen.
You must be thinking this is exact same Gospel reading I read out last week, but it is not; although verses 56-58 were repeated from last week. This is a rare occurrence in the bible. Repetition in such a close proximity, within the same chapter; means it is very important or difficult; and in this case it is both.
John 6:60 says “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, this is a hard saying; who can hear it”; this is difficult teaching; which unravelled, proves to be a crisis of faith for the disciples; and a turning point in their lives.
So far, following Jesus has been easy and exciting for the disciples: watching him perform signs and wonders; delivering great sermons; successfully challenging the authorities; and giving them hope, believing him to "the messiah” that was prophesised; and here they were, right beside him.
This was exciting and happy times, and then Jesus says “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me”. What if someone said that to you, (“eat my flesh and drink my blood”)? I know I would run, muttering the word nutter; … and many of the disciples in front of him did. But Jesus knew what he was doing; he knew that many them would not last the pace, so here, he was separating out the sheep from the goats. You see, it was all or nothing with him, you are either with me, or against me.
Now is this is coincident? The verse which says this, is John 6:66. The three 666’s and that verse reads “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him”.
This is getting interesting. Jesus now turns and asked the remaining disciples the same question, ... the disciples hiding in the bad ground; … but Jesus pulls then out, looks them in the eyes, and bluntly asks them the same question. “Will you eat my flesh and drink my blood”
And he then goes on to say, "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."
What an answer. I am sure that answer brought a tear to the eyes of Jesus. Where can we go; who else can we believe in?
At this stage in the sermon, I do not know what that means to you, and I don’t think that this is a very poignant moment in your life as it was for the disciples; but listen closely you may catch the drift.