READINGS: Psalm 84 ~ Ephesians 6:10-20 ~ John 6:56-69
“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. Amen
With these words Simon Peter, the rock, declares his allegiance to the master, under great pressure. He was facing the reality that not everyone who had declared themselves to be disciples could come to grips with the reality of our Lord’s identity. Many others would fall away. Twelve would remain and follow him to the cross, experiencing the fear and abandonment until his rising again.
They had witnessed the feeding of the 5000 and the master’s stroll out on the water in Galilee. The signs and wonders were all around them in those days. Evidence that the Spirit of God was at work amongst and in them. God was in their midst.
The whole of John’s gospel is concerned with the mystery of the person of Jesus as the Christ. Jesus can be seen as the new manna.
John attempts to show us that our lives are not lived in the physical world alone. Our humanity has been infused with God’s Holy Spirit. God wants all of us, our body our mind and our Spirits. It is the spirit that gives life to the flesh and makes us who we are.
There is a mutual indwelling, we abide in God and God abides in us.
We come to know God, through the deeds and signs of Christ found in the good news of the gospel.
Abiding in God conjures up images of home, a promise of safety and security, a place where fear does not have the upper hand and every tear will be wiped away. We are given the promise of eternal life, not immortality, but a way of living that deprives fear of having the upper hand. The twelve have yearned for home. They are standing at the doorstep, and they must walk through that door to embrace Jesus.
These teachings are difficult and because of this there are many who will not believe, many who will refuse, the safety and security of home. They have been offered what they yearn for but they turn away because they are afraid to take that leap which is required the embrace the mystery which is Jesus.
Today we turn over to God that which we fear the most, trusting that we are loved. When we can accept the love of God, that is pure grace, love flows from us and we in turn can love others.
Being Christian is daunting. We are called to put Christ’s death and resurrection at the heart of our faith, an mystery we will never be able to fully explain. We are being called to emulate our Lord’s manner of living and dying for others.
This by its very nature make discipleship strange difficult and countercultural in many ways. It is more than skin deep. We must reach below the surface of our lives and into our work places, bank accounts, family relationships, daily schedules and all the other ways we choose to live and die for Christ an dour neighbours. Peter knew what he had found. Despite the fact that his name was Cephas, which means rock, we recall that even the rocked abandoned our Lord at the time of his arrest, opting to go into hiding to preserve his own life. Peter the rock who like all of us was known to wobble in his loyalty to the master.
This is the first time in John’s gospel that Jesus’ closest friends are named ”the twelve”. Their decision to not turn away but walk forward with Christ drew them together as a community of faith.
It isn’t nay particular creed, mission statement, style of worship, or service program that unites them as the body of Christ. It is their professed willingness to follow Jesus Christ that renders them a community of faith.
We need to think about this when we agonize over mission statements, budget priorities, worship attendance and other preoccupations of church life.
It is our commitment to follow Christ alongside others that makes us the people of God. Thanks be to God Amen.