Saturday, 25 August 2012

Holy One of God

GospelJohn 6:60-69 

After hearing his doctrine many of the followers of Jesus said, ‘This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?’ Jesus was aware that his followers were complaining about it and said, ‘Does this upset you? What if you should see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before?
‘It is the spirit that gives life,
the flesh has nothing to offer.
The words I have spoken to you are spirit
and they are life.
‘But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the outset those who did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. He went on, ‘This is why I told you that no one could come to me unless the Father allows him.’ After this, many of his disciples left him and stopped going with him.
  Then Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘What about you, do you want to go away too?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God.’

It often surprises me that Christianity has as many followers as it has. This may be historically due to the fact that once Rome took Christianity as its official religion it became part of the culture that moved across the world. But the Roman model doesn't seem to fit with what is happening here. To be a Christian of the Empire meant to be part of the big picture and to be on the side of the winners; the people in charge. And it had an order and a rhythm that supported people when, otherwise, life was difficult. The Church was a place of safety and certainty; a place of belonging. It has been that for many years.

How strange then, that in this passage we see the church and the culture of Jesus' time turn away from his teaching. They prefer their own places of safety and certainty; their own belonging. They have been waiting for God to speak to them again; yet this new message is too much; it requires courage; it requires belief in a new way of living; belief in a God who wants to be involved in their life; to give them life. Jesus teaches that this is not a faith that you live on your own terms; God must be as urgent in your life as food and drink. And Jesus is the food and drink that will lead you to God.

That's a difficult faith to live in a world of logic; facts and figures; a world where reason is set out before us as an answer to everything.  No wonder so many walked away; why not the apostles?

From the mumbling and fumbling, Simon Peter makes a bold statement - that they believe Jesus is the Holy One of God; he uses scripture;  words he has learnt from his youth. They have nowhere else to go; no-one else to go to. Out of all these reasons perhaps the last one is nearest the truth.

The Father has brought them to this moment with Jesus through the Father's gift of Love. The revelation - that they love this man; they are more than his friends. They have walked and talked with him; sat in taverns and under stars with him;  stood by and watched as he healed and forgave. They have taught him to throw a net; he has taught them to think. They have shown him how to row; he  has shown them how to see. This is a relationship they do not want to end.

 Jesus has spent all this time talking about love; a relationship of love; from the Father; through him; to the world. For the apostles this has now struck home; Jesus is their world. They may not understand; they may use fancy titles for what they cannot express;  but this they believe.

Who else could they go to?



Margaret said...

It is so hard to leave those places of safety. I agree. What a leap of faith to even enter that new place.

Lynda said...

The words of Peter resonate with me and I have often told Jesus that there is nowhere for me to go but to Him. I like your sentence "Jesus is their world" as I feel that way myself.

claire said...

Jesus is a place of safety in prayer; but in daily life, he is always challenging my places of safety.
Will he ever recognize me as a follower...
Still I like the idea of following Him:-)

Word in the Hand said...

I feel it is all down to desire - we are never going to be 'that' brave but we should be compassion with ourselves for trying. blessings to all :-)