#ThursdayThought​: Lent Week 5 “A Truth-Speaking Journey”

Words of Eternal Life

Welcome to Thursday Thought, a short devotional series which compliments our Sunday services as we journey though the season of Lent, based on material produced by Engage Worship. To begin, take a moment to be still, to be in the presence of God, and to ready yourself to hear from Him.

Today, we reflect on the theme of Word of Eternal Life. Our Scripture Reading is John 6:60-69:

60On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’

61Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, ‘Does this offend you? 62Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you – they are full of the Spirit and life. 64Yet there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no-one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.’

66From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

67‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve.

68Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.’ Amen.

Jesus, like the rest of us, experienced varying degrees of popularity. Human beings are fickle, as you have probably experienced for yourself.

Jesus was popular when he came across as the powerful Messiah the people had been waiting for. For example, they liked him a lot after his miraculous healings, and celebrated him at the triumphant entry into Jerusalem which we remember on Palm Sunday. At other times, the crowds abandoned him and left him lonely and isolated.

John 6 starts with Jesus flying high in the approval ratings. Everyone loves food, and a miraculous feeding of thousands would always be a popular move. Later on, however, as Jesus makes some rather grand claims about himself, the religious leaders become a bit nervous. Once it starts to sound like Jesus is advocating cannibalism, everyone simply slips away. Rather than having to get their heads around what Jesus might mean, most people in the crowd see which way the wind is blowing and follow their peers to the next popular celebrity.

Some, however, are loyal. When queried about this by Jesus, Peter comes out with his famous creed:

“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.” (vs. 68-69)

There is such beauty in these simple words of trust. These are the words of someone who has spent long enough with Jesus to know that however hard his latest teaching might be, the very source of life is within him and so going elsewhere would be foolish indeed.

I don’t know if you’ve had this experience, but sometimes when we speak the truth our popularity drops too. However gently you may challenge your friend’s habit of spreading rumours, or however carefully you may put your reasons for not attending a questionably themed office party, those around you may still hear it as criticism. And nobody likes being criticised!

Spend a moment reflecting on this question: Are there times when you’ve tried to speak out God’s truth, but it has made you unpopular or rejected?

For Jesus, speaking the truth was not a popularity contest. His words were “full of the Spirit and life”, “words of eternal life.” More than wise sayings or religious slogans, these words have transformative, divine power, if we have “ears to hear”.

Practical steps: Spend some time in the words of Jesus today. This could involve:

  • Choose one passage of Jesus’ words, and commit it to memory.
  • Write a tune (or find an existing tune) to set a section of Jesus’ teaching, so that you remember it and carry it around with you.
  • Listen to an audio Bible version of Jesus’ teaching.
  • Create a poster with a verse from the gospels and hang it somewhere you will see it regularly.

None of these things are “ends in themselves”: the point is to soak yourself in the words of Jesus, and allow the Holy Spirit to take them from your head to your heart.