Finding Life in Ancient Words

“Lord, to whom would we go?”

People were complaining. They would have preferred another miracle. Another sign that showed that the divine could actually break into the mundane parts of the world. Because when someone feeds thousands of people with what amounts to one Long John Silver’s combo meal you know that something special is going on.

But Jesus wasn’t just handing out miracles. Instead he was teaching difficult lessons. And let’s be honest, the first time you hear, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you,” it’s kid of creepy. Many of them didn’t have the time or patience to try to understand what he meant. So they complained.

And then they left.

This is the scene of John 6. People – disciples! – turning away and deserting Jesus because it was either too hard or they simply did not understand.

Seeing this, Jesus turned to the twelve — his best friends, his inner circle — and asked if they were out the door, too. I resonate so much with Peter’s response:

Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.” (John 6:68)

We’ve dealt with doubt often in this space. For each of us, doubt has been an ever-present part of our spiritual journey. It makes itself known when we see another tornado bring tragedy to a place like Arkansas this week. Or when our house just will not sell. Or when we sit down and read through the Bible. Or we lose someone we love.

But doubt is more than a monster that springs from the darkness of adversity or catastrophe. It is a traveling companion, a willing dance partner with our faith. It walks with us all day long.

Because following Jesus is just not that easy. Anyone who says otherwise is being dishonest. Or maybe just blessed with more faith than me.

But the thing that grounds me, the rope that tethers me to this Jesus of Nazareth that I have never seen nor heard, is his words. These ancient words that were recorded by other men and passed down (imperfectly) through years and through generations.

In the words of Jesus I see truth. Even more, in them I find life.

115_words_of_LIFE_by_januscastrenceI find wisdom in his sermon given on a mountainside and mercy in his gentle words spoken to a condemned, adulterous woman. I see purpose in the clever way he shows Peter that it’s ok that he messed up and he still has a role in the Kingdom. I find joy in the way he proclaims peace to the outsider and rest for the weary.

 

I find life in those words.

And so when I am doubtful and unsure. When God simply doesn’t make sense or I am angry with him, I find myself in Peter’s shoes.

Lord, to whom would I go? Your words give me eternal life in my present situation.

I pray today that you find life. That you find joy and peace and love and hope. But if you find it just out of your grasp, may you look again at those ancient words. And I pray that you find the life that I do again.

 

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