(maybe a little rambling…)
(John 6:60) Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” 61 Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? 63 The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) 65 Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.” 66 At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.
67 Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” 68 Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. 69 We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.”
I remember reading these verses in high school, shortly after becoming a Christian. Later in college, I would mark these verses as my “life verses” and include them as the cornerstones of a ministry I was forming at the time. They made so much sense to me, and I could see this scene playing out in my mind. Disciples, casual followers of Jesus, and religous leaders of the day listening to Jesus teach in the synagogue one day (earlier verses), and after his teaching realizing that what he was teaching was 1) a little confusing and 2) quite demanding, and talking amongst themselves. He had taught them about how he was the Bread of Life, the Living Water, and about how if they “ate and drank of him” they would never die or go thirsty, but not everyone understood what he was talking about (understandably so). So he said, “Well if you think this is hard to understand, what will you think when you see me taken back up into heaven? Quit trying to understand it with your BRAIN alone. The SPIRIT gives life, not your own understanding.”
But they didn’t all understand. And some left. And Jesus turned to the rest and just asked, “Are you going to leave, too?” Then Peter…my favorite disciple…says, “Where will we go? TO WHOM will we go? YOU ALONE have the words of eternal life.” I just love that. I always have. Where will we go? You alone have the words of eternal life. As I was listening to this song tonight (the one in the video above), I was struck again by the simplicity of the “words of eternal life” that Jesus brought to us and WHY we have noone else to go to.
My favorite lines in the song say that “your blood speaks a better better word than all the empty claims I’ve heard upon this earth, Speaks righteousness for me And stands in my defense, Jesus it’s Your blood.” It’s the entire gospel wrapped up in just a few lines so simply.
You know, this year, including the trip to Iraq hasn’t been “easy to understand.” I (and we, obviously) have faced opposition at pretty much every turn. We have had to defend ourselves and our intentions to so many people almost weekly. We’ve felt left out and left behind at times. People who once respected us now call us names for making the decisions we have. And as my good friend Devan said the other day, we have had to totally change our lifestyle and rather than rely on ourselves for our daily needs, trust that other people will be faithful to their commitments to God and this work, and in that hugely trust in God for EVERYTHING. And even that, we’ve had to defend to people along the way, explaining to people as a choice rather than something thrust on us. And yeah, because of that, we’ve had a lifestyle change. The huge amounts of trust involved in making the decisions we have made over the past year is something that most couples will not experience for many years to come, but we’re better for it. As to where most newlyweds are spending their first year together doing who knows what (I honestly can’t imagine how bland that year must be!), we are caught up in this adventure of the Grandest sort, doing the very things Jesus has asked us to do.
And we know that along the way, we’ve done the next best thing. There’s still “no one else for us to go to.” Jesus alone has had the words of eternal life the entire time. There is nothing else for us to do with our lives but this thing that we’re doing. His blood will always speak for us, covering any sinful or selfish things we’ve done in the process – but the reality is that we’ve done all this for his glory – to spread his fame and grace to people who don’t know him yet; who don’t yet know that “his blood speaks a better word…” and it’s worth it because of that alone. They’re hearing! God’s love really is being heard for the first time in places where it was not heard before because of what we’re doing. Robert sleeps with roaches sometimes and I sleep alone right now because we know this.
My prayer for everyone tonight is that you would have a fresh revelation of what the word of God is for you. That you would know (again) for the first time that Jesus’ blood speaks a BETTER word than whatever it is you’re hearing (even if you’re a believer – he has even now a BETTER word for you still).
Well, it’s late. Perhaps more tomorrow. Perhaps editing tomorrow. Blessings.