John 6: 60-69
60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
66 ¶ From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
Jesus does not change his message in order to please people, even when that message proves unpalatable. He has not come to be all things to all men, but instead to tell us the truth. It is up to us, through faith, to hear and to understand and to accept Jesus’ teachings, and to know that our salvation is through him.
Many of Jesus’ listeners have balked at his words. Jesus has told them that he is the bread of life, that to be saved they must eat his flesh and drink his blood. This is a great mystery. Many of those who have followed him now find this completely incomprehensible. This truth of our salvation is not something that can be grasped through natural reason. It is only through faith that we may believe this revealed truth. We know that it is truth because Jesus has told us. Through grace, we have faith in Jesus’ words.
Jesus tells us that we cannot understand his words if we approach them in too human a way. It is not through our knowledge of earthly things that we may properly know Christ. He has come to us from heaven. The life he brings to us is the life of the spirit. Christ’s very words are spirit and life. We are taught through these verses of the Bible to reorient our sense of what is truly living, to know that our eternal life, free of sin and death, flows from Jesus. This is the supernatural understanding to which we are called.
Many of the disciples now desert Jesus. The twelve remain, even though one of them will betray Jesus, and Jesus knows this. Peter’s response to Jesus’ question is beautiful. His words are not only an expression of solidarity with the Lord; they are an expression of faith, as he declares the truth of Christ, that he is the Holy One of God, that he has the words of eternal life. Peter’s words are a shining example to us all, when our faith falters.
‘When God’s life-giving word came to dwell in human flesh, he remade it for its good, that is, for its life. Being linked with flesh in this unique form of union, he made it a source of life, just as he is by his own nature a source of life.
‘Thus the body of Christ gives life to those who share with him. By being among those who are liable to death his body drives death out; by bringing forth in itself a principle capable of utterly destroying corruption, his body expels corruption.’ St Cyril of Alexandria