Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’
Devotion by Anne Mooney
Jesus has just told his followers they must do something that seemed very hard and also quite strange. He said they must eat his body and drink his blood to be part of the kingdom of God. I imagine it didn’t make much sense to the disciples following Jesus. How can you eat someone and drink their blood and they still be there to be followed? It sounds kind of creepy if you ask me. But Jesus is famous for talking in riddles and parables. His words aren’t usually meant to be taken literally. The eating of his body and drinking of his blood is a symbol for taking in and absorbing into our lives the way of Jesus. This is hard work!
I don’t know if the disciples who left Jesus went because eating his body sounded too weird, or if they understood the totality of what Jesus was asking. But I know many people who have given up when faced with the hard work of ongoing recovery from an addiction, wishing instead for an easy way out, or settling for relief. I know there are folks who leave the church because it seems too hard to live up to the standards and expectations of those who attend there. I know individuals who leave the church because it seems the church falls short in its mission or outreach. Let’s face it, living like Jesus all the time, everyday is hard work. It is challenging to see the face of God in everyone and to live a life with compassion.
Jesus asks his 12 apostles if they are going to leave. Peter’s answer shows he has come to know the truth of Jesus’ way. He can’t imagine living any other way now. The scripture offers a challenge to me (and you). Am I going to turn away because it seems to hard to follow in Jesus’ footsteps? Or am I going to stick around and help share the kingdom of God with those I encounter?