60 Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, "Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you that do not believe." For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. 65 And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." 66 After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. 67 Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?" 68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."
Why do some find it easy and others find it hard to accept the claims which Jesus made? Many were attracted to Jesus because he offered them something irresitible – a visible sign of God's mercy and favor which Jesus demonstrated in his wonderful works of healing, deliverance, and the miraculous feeding of the five thousand.
Many stumbled, however, when Jesus made claims which only God can make. Jesus' discourse on"eating his flesh and drinking his blood" (see John 6:51-59) which pointed to the Last Supper, caused offence to many of his followers. Jesus claimed to be the bread of heaven, the very life of God given to us as spiritual food to sustain us on our journey to the promised land of heaven.
Jesus did not leave any middle ground for his hearers. They must either accept his word as divine or reject it as the claim of an imposter. Even the apostles admitted that this was a "hard saying". This expression meant that it was not just hard to understand, but hard to accept. Jesus pressed the issue with his beloved disciples because he wanted to test their faith and loyalty. Jesus promised his disciples nothing less than the full blessing of eternal life and union with God.
Jesus assures his disciples that it is his heavenly Father who invites and who gives the grace to follow even in the "hard sayings". Jesus knew that some would not only reject him and his word, but would do so with hatred and violence, even betraying him to his enemies.
Real faith is not blind nor ignorant. It seeks understanding. That is why God gives us the help of the Holy Spirit to enlighten the eyes of our mind to understand his truth and wisdom (Ephesians 1:17-18).
Jesus offers his life-giving word and Spirit to those who believe in him and who obey his word. Peter’s profession of faith and loyalty was based on a personal relationship with Jesus.
His belief was not simply based on what he knew about Jesus. He believed in Jesus because he knew that when Jesus spoke God spoke – when Jesus acted God acted. Through the gift of faith Peter came to understand that Jesus was the true Messiah, the Holy One of God.
He believed in the words which Jesus spoke, because he accepted Jesus as the Son of God and savior of the world. Faith is a personal response to God's revelation of himself to us. Faith is the key to understanding and experiencing God's action and work in our personal lives.
Do you believe, as Peter did, that Jesus can change your life because he has the words of everlasting life? Ask the Lord to increase your faith that you may grow in your relationship with him and in the knowledge of his love for you.