Updated: Nov 25, 2021
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?”
Was this last year even real life? I recently said to Kaycie (the best half of our marriage), “This year feels like it’s flown by and simultaneously lasted 80 years.” That’s how it’s felt, hasn’t it? Here we are looking back upon the dumpster fire that was 2020 and yet it still feels like it’s March 305th.
I’ve posted several silly jokes on social media about how awful 2020 has been (and they’ve all carried a sliver of truth), but this past year has also provided opportunities that in a normal year would have otherwise gone amiss. Do I wish I could turn the year that was 2020 into a much more “normal” year? Absolutely, one hundred percent. Do I cherish the fact that I can look back and see God actively at work in my life and in my family? Even more so.
I was reading the Gospels earlier this year and I came across the passage in John 6 where Jesus feeds a multitude, crosses the sea to Capernaum, and the multitude follows Him. Jesus reveals aspects of Himself to the crowd and His disciples that were difficult to hear, much less accept. Jesus proclaims He came from Heaven, and that no person can approach God but through Him, and that if people partake of Him (being the Bread of Life) then they will never hunger again. To the Jews at this time, all of this sounded like deranged musings of a madman. The people, and even some of His disciples, begin to grumble amongst themselves about what Jesus was saying. SIDE BAR: Not everyone who listens to what God wants to say through you are going to be pleased with what you’re saying. AND WE’RE BACK: Even worse, Jesus said these things in the synagogue at Capernaum – He knew exactly what He was doing and how people would react.
Jesus knew His disciples were grumbling about His teachings and asks them if they took offense to Him. He informs them that the words He speaks are spirit and life and not of flesh or bone. He confronts them by telling them there are many that follow Him who do not believe and at this, many of His disciples turn away and followed Him no longer. Here’s where we get to the most incredible part of the story in my opinion, found in John 6:67:
So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
I love Simon Peter. He’s spectacularly human. One minute he’s foolishly declaring that he’ll never abandon Jesus even if the others do (spoilers: he does, three separate times) and the next he’s making this profound statement. Simon Peter hears Jesus’s question – will you leave also? – And looks around at the situations, circumstances, and world he lives in and comes to the most incredible conclusion: where else will we go?
That story and passage struck me particularly in light of this year. Through every frustration, tear, and difficulty, I’ve been reminded of Simon Peter’s response: to whom shall we go? Through every disappointment, heartbreak, and dark valley, my spirit has gone back to “to whom shall we go”.
Simon Peter realized, much like you and I have realized time and again this year, Jesus is the ONLY one who has the words of eternal life. His words are eternal and they bring everlasting life. In the dark abyss that 2020 has often been, Jesus is the ONLY one that has been a constant light. In a year that has brought glorious highs and dismal lows, Jesus has been the ONLY steadfast foundation. In a year that has brought physical, emotional, and spiritual storms, Jesus has been the ONLY refuge to shelter in. In a year that has seen sickness, depression, and death reign, Jesus has been the ONLY Healer, Comforter, Merciful and Gracious King.
I had no idea what 2020 had in store for my family, my community, my state, or my country. I have no idea what 2021 holds for us all either. But I do know that no matter what we all may face, we have Someone to turn to. There’s a Man with words of eternal life. He’s God’s Holy One who gave Himself up that we might live. His words are light and life and through Him, we shall not be overcome.
I pray that in this upcoming year you are reminded of Simon Peter’s response and that you are encouraged – because the same Jesus that revealed Himself to Simon Peter to evoke such a deep response will reveal Himself to you too. He was and remains, ever faithful and true.