Where my boys take piano is a wonderful little nature walk in the middle of the neighborhood. Depending on the weather, I will often take a quick walk around there while they are having their lessons. When you first walk into the preserve, you are greeted with a sign asking whether you want to take the Pond Path or the Creek Path. Both are nice short walks, but I often take the one to the left – the pond path – as I like the little pond area and it has some nice stone benches to sit on. I was out there late this afternoon, and as I started in I remembered the passage from John 6 in the reading today. The teaching continues about body and blood and those who are not understanding what Jesus is speaking of are understandably concerned. After all, someone gets talking about eating their body and drinking their blood, its pretty easy to get a bit concerned. (Side note – it is said that one of the reasons that early Christians were arrested was the belief that they were cannibals because they were gathering and eating someone’s flesh and blood – if you don’t know what they’re talking about, its easy to jump to the worrisome conclusion). Anyway, as Jesus speaks of this, a good number of his followers desert him. Verse 60…
On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
The passage continues as Jesus continues to challenge his followers until we get to verse 66 where we read:
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
But here’s where I love this next part of the passage. Jesus turns to his closest twelve and asks if they are going to leave. Peter, as is often the case, is the first one recorded to reply with words that ring back to my growing up in the Lutheran church. I believe it was before (or maybe after) the Gospel reading each Sunday, we would sing a response of what Peter said to Jesus.
Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
(The Lutheran book of Worship also adds a few Alleluias before and after the response).
This passage feels to me like this place I walked today – Jesus lays before his hearers two paths – one that is the path that is the easy way out that avoids the hard truths of discipleship. The other is the path that, as Peter said, is the one that leads to eternal life.
I like to say that I always choose the path of Jesus but I know there are times when the other path just seems like the easier way to go. I am grateful for God who is always willing to welcome me back to the correct path.