BY DAVID PARK
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God’”.1
In John 6, we find the twelve disciples after Jesus taught a great multitude. In response to Jesus’ teaching, “many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him”.2 These were people that had followed Jesus for days. They witnessed Jesus as a miracle mathematician who multiplied barley loaves and fish to feed 5,000 men – let alone the women and children. These followers of Jesus saw that He had crossed to the other side of the sea in the night, and they climbed into boats to catch up with Him. Strangely, who they thought Jesus was did not match up with who He said He was. After hearing Jesus teach, they were no longer willing to follow Him and they decided to leave.
And, this is where we find ourselves with this passage. Jesus turns to the original twelve disciples, and He asks them, “Do you want to go away as well?” Perhaps, we can hear Jesus ask us this question, too. “Do you want to go away as well? Will you also leave?”
The Christian life, according to the Bible, is not easy. Don’t get me wrong. If you count the cost of following Christ, there is only one logical solution: give up the finite to pursue the infinite. Jesus is infinitely worth it, but no one said it was easy. If a pastor told you that being a Christian was easy, you were swindled; suffering is promised for the Christian, not comfort.3 Yet, Peter says something that definitely resonates in my heart. During my bouts of discouragement and depression, Peter’s question brings solace.
“Lord, to whom shall we go?” To rephrase it, “Lord, where can I go after I met you?” “Who can I turn to after experiencing you?” “Once I have tasted of you and have seen that you are good, who can compare to you?” King David challenges us to “taste and see that the Lord is good”.4 There is no doubt that the Lord is good; it depends if we will choose to “taste and see.”
When Jesus takes ahold of us, we are no longer the same person we used to be. When He saved me from myself, He changed me. By the work of the Holy Spirit, He has made me into a new creation. The Apostle Paul writes that the old is gone, and the new has come.5 I’ve changed, and the people around me can see. Jesus endured the wrath my sins deserved on the cross, and He clothed me with His righteousness – the great exchange. I gave Jesus my sin, and He gave me His righteousness. Now, Jesus’ spiritual and moral resume is accredited to me, and God the Father sees me as He sees His beloved Son, Jesus. By mercy and grace, I am loved and adopted as a son of God. He pursued me when I hated Him. He died for me while I was still dead in my sins. I was His enemy, and Jesus lived the life I should have lived and died the death I should have died. When I remember such glorious truths, what other love can compare?
I look back unto the work He has done in my life, and I cannot stand unmoved. He has changed my desires from sin and self to wanting to love Him and obey Him – the deepest desires of all Christians. But, none of this means that now I never sin. Believe me; I have friends in my life who are eager to argue for me on this account. This does mean, however, that when we sin as Christians, we hate it. There is only One who has wired us to find freedom in Him.
Shall I go back to being addicted to pornography? Shall I go back to basing my identity on what people think of me? Shall I go back to deadening purposelessness and aimless wandering? Shall I go back to being even-more-so-than-now prideful and self-righteous? Who else can know all of me and love me? In my brokenness, You draw near. You promise to never leave me nor forsake me even if everyone else does. You never withhold yourself from me. No one understands me like You. Who is like you, O Lord? This is obviously a rhetorical question because King David declares “for there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears”.6 This is the best news ever told.
It’s funny, though, that I can know and experience these great spiritual realities and forget them so easily at the same time. When I find myself discontent, I ask myself, “What do you want?” It’s a simple question, and it’s a helpful question to order my thoughts. But, often, I cannot answer that question. Do I want a 4.0 to make sure that I can feel smart and gain future job security? Do I want a girlfriend and get married as soon as possible to fill my longing for intimacy and relationship? Do I want to plant a church and be in full-time pastoral ministry for my own recognition and glory? Will that make me fulfilled? Will that bring me rest, joy, and peace? At the end of the day, I know they won’t. The misleading thing about the things we tend to want is that they are down in the future; if I could time-travel to future David, he would tell me it wasn’t all that I thought it would be.
When I finally do get what I think I want, I never end up satisfied. I’m sure this is not an uncommon feeling. I get that 4.0, or I get into that relationship, or I serve in more capacities in my fellowship and church, and when they aren’t what I thought they’d be, I fix my eyes onto something else in the future to long after and worship as a false god.
“Lord, to whom shall we go?” It is not a pithy statement without much deliberation. It is a rhetorical question from a heart that has longed after so many things only to be faced with disappointment and disillusionment time and time again, but has now found true life.
For the Christian, even if we contemplate giving into temptation or even giving up altogether on our spiritual journeys, we cannot help but turn to Jesus. He’s rewired us from the inside out to love Him and Him alone. As Pastor Paul Washer put it, he could not claim that a 30-ton logging truck going 120 miles ran him over and still look the same. That is because it is impossible to have an encounter with something as large as a logging truck and not be changed. So, what is bigger? A logging truck or God?
If you are discouraged in your walk with Christ, haven’t really been walking with Christ for some time, or question if you are even a Christian, know that this is not the litmus test of your faith in Jesus. If you don’t feel your heart longing for Jesus, pray that He will change it, so that it will. Meditate on the Gospel – the work Jesus has done on your behalf and how you reap the rewards that He has sown. It is hard to stay distant from the God who has intimately woven the narrative of your life. And, if you’re not a Christian, Jesus is calling you to be. You aren’t reading this article on accident.
Let us, then, as the people of God find our purpose, our joy, our contentment, and life in the Holy One, Jesus Christ. “We have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God”.7 How, then, can we now
1John 6:66-69 (ESV)
2John 6:66 (ESV)
3John 15:20 (ESV); 1 Peter 4:12 (ESV); 2 Timothy 3:12 (ESV)
4Psalm 34:8 (ESV)
52 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
62 Samuel 7:22 (ESV)
7John 6:69 (ESV)