60 When they heard it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching! Who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, asked them, “Does this cause you to stumble in your faith? 62 What if you would see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 The Spirit is the one who gives life. The flesh does not help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning those who would not believe and the one who would betray him. 65 He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is given to him by my Father.” 66 After this, many of his disciples turned back and were not walking with him anymore. 67 So Jesus asked the Twelve, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 He meant Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, because Judas was going to betray Jesus.
God’s Word contains some teachings that are hard for human beings to accept. Consider these examples. Those cute little babies that everyone loves to hold are sinful human beings who deserve God’s judgment. No matter how many good things you do in life, you can never accomplish enough to earn the forgiveness of your sins. Your sins make you just as guilty before God as those committed by a mass murderer or a terrorist or a cruel tyrant. We can’t make a decision by ourselves to believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Such faith is a gift only God can give us. Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life in heaven. Any other path is a road that leads to eternal destruction.
People don’t want to hear such teachings. We like to believe our sins aren’t as bad as the next person. We want to think God will consider us to be good people who deserve to be in heaven. God will surely accept me just the way I am. Many people who don’t hear what they want to hear in church will walk away. They want to believe they can choose their own way to earn God’s favor and to have eternal life in heaven.
Jesus knew what it was like to have people reject him. Just prior to our Scripture reading for today, Jesus was being followed by a large crowd. He had just performed an amazing miracle of feeding thousands of people with five loaves of bread and two fish. People followed Jesus wanting to see more miracles. Instead Jesus pointed to himself as the “Bread of Life.” Only by partaking of his flesh and blood can anyone be saved. We partake of Jesus through the Holy Scriptures and the Sacraments. This teaching wasn’t what the people wanted to hear. Many of them stopped following Jesus altogether.
Jesus turned to his own closest followers and put the question to them. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” It might have seemed like leaving Jesus would be an easy thing to do. Why follow someone who suddenly became unpopular with the crowds? But popularity wasn’t what was important for the Twelve. Simon Peter answered for the group. “Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” God was gracious to these men. They heard the teachings of Jesus. God opened their hearts to see and believe the truth. No one else could offer what Jesus offered them. Jesus is the Messiah that God promised to send. There is no other way to eternal life except through him. Even if all others left him they would not leave.
It’s not easy to be a follower of Jesus in the world today. There are so many other religions out there. An increasing number of people will say you don’t need to be a part of any organized religion. Find your own way to come to God. You make your own rules. You do what seems right to you. But for us there is no other choice. Jesus isn’t just another teacher. He is the Son of God. He is the promised Savior of the world. His sinless life fulfilled God’s Law for us. His death took away our sins. His resurrection defeated death and opened the way to eternal life for us. There really is on other option. By the grace of God we believe and confess: “Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
1 – Remember that many people in the crowd following Jesus were called his disciples. Why were they having such a hard time accepting his teachings?
Many of them still did not understand who Jesus was. They saw him as a great teacher and miracle worker but not the Son of God. They also wanted Jesus to make their earthly lives better. They weren’t looking for someone to save them from their sins. They believed they were already God’s people simply because they were descendants of Abraham.
2 – What precious truth did Peter confess in response to Jesus’ question?
Jesus is the Son of God. He is the Messiah, God promised in the Holy Scriptures. Jesus’ message proclaimed that the only way to eternal life was through faith in him.
3 – In response to Peter’s confession what truth did Jesus reveal?
They did not come to this faith in Jesus on their own. They were chosen by God. Only God can enable someone to believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior. As Ephesians 2:8-9 stated, “Indeed, it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
4 – What warning did Jesus also give?
He already knew that one of his own disciples would betray him. Judas had the privilege of walking with Jesus for three years and learning from him. Yet in the end he fell away from faith. His love for money was stronger than his love for God. We must always be careful that we don’t fall victim to temptation as Judas did. The words of 1 Corinthians 10:13 warn us, “So let him who thinks he stands be careful that he does not fall.” We must always stand on the sure foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we remain faithful to the end and receive the crown of life our Lord Jesus has won for us.
If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to