By Shawn McMullen
In John 6 Jesus fed a crowd of 5,000 men (plus women and children) with “five small barley loaves and two small fish.” The crowd responded to the miracle by proclaiming Christ to be the promised Messiah (the prophet of Deuteronomy 18:15) and attempting to force him to become their king. He evaded them and retreated into the mountains.
That night he crossed the Sea of Galilee (by walking on water and climbing into the disciples’ boat miles from shore) and arrived in Capernaum. The next day, realizing where Jesus had gone, the crowd boarded boats and sailed to Capernaum in search of him. When they found him, they engaged him once again, asking about God while hoping to witness another miracle.
Jesus took this opportunity to separate the true believers from the thrill seekers. He referred to himself as “the bread of life” and alarmed his audience by declaring, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”
The “living bread” notion was more than the thrill seekers could handle. “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’” John adds, “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”
His finger firmly on the pulse of the people, the Lord turned to the Twelve and asked, “You do not want to leave too, do you?”
Peter spoke for the group, answering Jesus’ question with one of his own: “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.”
It’s a good question—one we should ask in times of discontent. Sometimes life seems unfair. We endure more than our share of disappointment and sorrow. Our lives seem marked by a long string of disastrous events. We look around and see people who aren’t struggling nearly as much. To add insult to injury, many of them aren’t even believers! Where’s the justice in that?
We know being a Christian doesn’t guarantee an easy life. In fact, we’ve been taught to expect hardship and persecution as followers of Christ (see Acts 14:22 and 2 Timothy 3:12). Still, we can’t help thinking life would be easier if God would lighten up. Cut us some slack. If he would just take away the cancer, bring back the prodigal child, restore peace at church, provide a new job.
In our weaker moments we may feel slighted by God, bothered by the lack of blessing, impatient in our inconvenience, harrowed by hard questions that remain unanswered. It’s enough to make us want to walk away.
Here’s where Peter’s simple question puts it all into perspective: “Lord, where else can we go?” Faith in Christ may not bring every good thing we’ve hoped for into our lives, but it beats every alternative. It comes with its good times, to be sure. Even in hardship it provides peace and assurance. And ultimately, it leads to eternal joy in the presence of the Lord. These are good reasons to be content no matter the circumstance.
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