“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.’”
The announcement of what God has done in His Son is absolutely glorious and joyful, isn’t it? It is called the “good news” for good reason. As much joy and peace as knowing Jesus brings, it is important that His disciples remember that there is much room for questioning, confusion, and even disturbance as we live with Him. As you read about what He said and did with His first disciples, you find that in many cases the Master had to bring distress in order to bring healing and peace of the deepest kind.
Most of Jesus’ disciples left Him after He spoke hard words. He had many more than twelve disciples until that time, but there was a massive falling away. He didn’t panic, nor did He beg. He let those disciples leave who decided to. He knew that many who began in the way of the Kingdom would abandon it, and, though I’m sure it broke His heart to watch it happen, He focused on those who remained faithful. He asked His most trusted followers a hard question when the others had left: “You don’t want to leave, too, do you?”
Peter spoke words that, I hope, echo in your heart, Disciple. When Jesus raises questions in you, confuses you, or even disturbs you, recall what Peter said on behalf of His brothers. Jesus alone has the words of eternal life, even if some of those words are difficult at first. Jesus is the Holy One of God, and nothing we feel or think changes this fact.
Do not take the easy route of discipleship, Disciple. Do not skip or avoid the difficult things in your Master’s teachings that don’t at first interest or delight you. It is Jesus Himself that you want! It is the fullness of His wisdom and life that you are pursuing as His disciple. Be bold and full of trust in His nearness as you ask tough questions of Him and seek understanding about what He has said and done. To make us the people He intends us to be, He must do more than encourage and affirm us. He must go deeper and cause the discomfort of challenging our assumptions and values. He must press us and test the limits of our trust and allegiance.
As you carry on in this new day, Disciple, remember that you are in relationship with the most fascinating and important person there is! Any challenge or difficulty you have in understanding Him is par for the course, and it is totally worth it! He knows what He is doing, and, as you trust Him each step of the way, you’ll find yourself agreeing with Peter again and again: “To whom else shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Holding fast with you, come what may,