John 6:60-71- To Whom Shall We Go?
Explanation-As the Disciples of Christ try to digest the words that He had spoken, many of them turned away because the sayings were too hard for them. This is the tragic course of many who set out on the path of life, only to be scorched out by the sun because they had not root within themselves. It is here that we are reminded of the parable of the sower. Could those who had left be compared to the seed that fell along the path, or those sowed on rocky plain with no depth? Or could it be that these were the ones sown among thorns and were choked by the cares of this world? At any rate, these ‘disciples’ followed Christ for a time, yet when the tide became just a little too strong for them they turned away. Christ’s words are indeed impossible for flesh and blood to perceive. Only those who are granted the eyes of faith by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are able to discern the meaning of spiritual realities. Their going only proved that they were never of the fold to begin with. They went out from us because they were never of us (1 Jn. 2:19). Christ knew those who would believe and those who would not. He knew this because He understood full well the entire will of God. It is the Father who draws men unto Christ and the Spirit who gives understanding. Christ, being in perfect union with both, was intimately aware of those belonging to His fold.
As we look to the 12, what do we see? Do we see a perfect understanding of spiritual realities? No, I do not believe we do. What we do see is an allotted measure of faith that holds them to the fold. They have not yet been revealed all mysteries and truth, yet the words of Peter are the very words of the Saints of all ages who have been called to throw in their lot with Christ. ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ (6:68). This is one of the marks of a true believer. Despite the lack of faith or lack of understanding one may have; despite the failures, difficulties, sins, trials, and hardships one may face, there is a fundamental assurance that we are held to the path of eternal life. This is much different than the belief that I can ask Jesus into my heart, obtain my ticket to heaven, and then live as though Christ is irrelevant during the rest of my time here on earth. The perseverance of the saints means that despite my many failures and lacking, Christ will keep me on the path. The overall trajectory of the believer will be one on its way heavenward, not one which plants its feet in earthly soil. There will be wars with sin, battles with unbelief, tangles with doubt, and wrestling with fear; but in each of these happenings we will be marked with the unending, unfailing grace of Christ that continues to move us in a fixed direction. If we truly belong to Christ then we are unable to return fully to the way in which we once lived. His Spirit at work within us will not allow it!
Despite this glorious reality, there are still those who dwell amongst the fold who have no place with Christ or His people. Judas Iscariot was one of these. For whatever reason (we are unsure exactly why or how he came to follow Christ) Judas was numbered with the 12. He went with Christ wherever He would go, and partook in the blessed ministry. Judas broke bread with Christ, he travelled with Christ, ministered with Christ, listened to Christ, and witnessed Christ’s miracles; yet he was a devil. This was the foretold son of perdition who would betray the Son of Man in the name of filthy lucre. This is a very sobering reality, namely that one could have been so close to Christ in proximity, yet ever so far from Him spiritually.
Application- I believe that this section beckons us to count the cost of following Christ, and to examine ourselves to see if we are really His. Our lives should not be those of constant doubt in our salvation, but they should be marked by consistent spiritual evaluation. There are times when we fall into sin where we should be shook by the fearful reality that our current state of affairs are reflective of those who do not belong to Christ. Surely we must have hope in God and His ability to save, but we also must recognize the inability of our own flesh and understand that if we were left to ourselves for but a moment we would indeed fall from grace, never to return. As we come to see our own nature in light of the nature of God, it should bring us great hope and assurance! It is He who guides us on this pilgrim’s pathway and it is He who is preserving our faith. He has the words of eternal life. He has caused us to believe, we have come to know Him as the Savior of the world, and He has placed His mark upon us and declared that we are His! Let us not rely on any work of flesh to save or draw us near to God, but let us place our hope entirely in the work that He has already accomplished on our behalf.