67 Therefore Jesus said to the Twelve, “You don’t want to go away too, do you?”
68 Simon Peter answered, “Lord, who will we go to? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God!”
“Who will we go to?” – Simon Peter’s rhetorical question comes after a “hard teaching” from Jesus. The implied answer here is “no one,” as in, “there is no other. You are God.” Many of the larger pool of disciples (not the Twelve) abandoned Jesus immediately following this “hard teaching.” In fact, their rhetorical question implied the same answer. In v. 60 they ask, “who can accept it?” Their implied answer is, “no one.” So what was the difference? How can the same illustration illicit such drastically different responses? I believe the answer lies in verse 65. This is Jesus repeating what He’s already said in 44, that no one can come to Him unless drawn by the Father.
This should remove any semblance of pride or arrogance that we may have about our faith, because “salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9), and even the faith we have to believe was gifted to us by God. It should increase our brokenness and gratitude for the grace of God, because apart from His drawing us in, we would not know Him. God has invited us to join Him in making disciples, but the most important aspect of that endeavor must be crying out to Him on their behalf. All of our evangelistic eloquence and apologetic arguments will be powerless apart from the saving grace of the Lord. The Lord hears the prayers of the righteous (Proverbs 15:29), and if salvation is a sovereign act of God, why shouldn’t we beg for His salvation for the lost, both near and far?
And yet…in this passage we see that although God is sovereign, a response is required. Each man must, when presented with the Gospel, respond. Ultimately, there are only two responses. Either Jesus was and is the Bread of Life who came down from heaven, the spotless Lamb who takes away the sin of the world, or He’s not. There may be no caveats, no partial responses, no straddling the fence on this issue. Our response should be clear, as was Simon Peter’s. The response to the question, “is Jesus the Son of God who died for our sins and was raised to life for our salvation?” must be definitive. Black or white. Hot or cold. Lukewarm will not do (Revelation 3:16).
All must answer this question once for justification, and Christians must answer it daily for sanctification. We must choose daily to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him (Luke 9:23). Our devotion to and dependence on Him must be complete, total, and undivided. Where we fall short—as we will, and Peter did—we must rely even more heavily on His compassion, grace, and forgiveness. Even when we are faithless, He is faithful (2 Timothy 2:13).
Oh, that God may draw us to Himself! May He give us the grace of faith that grows more deeply each day. May He grow in us a desire to know Him, to walk with Him, to love Him more each day. May He grant perseverance, so that when the day of testing comes, we will not harden our hearts (Hebrews 3:8). When His teachings, or the circumstances of our lives become hard and Jesus asks, “You don’t want to go away too, do you?” may we like Peter, humbly, decisively, emphatically respond, “Lord, who will we go to?”