When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”
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.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.” He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him. John 6:60-71
It is easy to get lost, easy to recall a time when one sets out on a hopeful adventure which turned into a disaster, and easy to ache for a clear direction like a yellow brick road. As a child, I watched the Wizard of Oz, with rapt attention, even though I knew the ending. The approach to the wizard terrified me. Now I realize that entry way looked an awful lot like church. A place of hopefulness and fear, vaulted ceilings of possibility, infected with the trembling reality of human failure. And yet, despite all of my fear and trembling and getting lost, God is in the midst of the adventure, this walk on unsigned roads that lead to new life.
The disciples are having doubts because the way ahead is rough. Jesus didn't mince his words but told them the truth of what was ahead. Many turned around and went home. Peter, stands up and announces his faith, his expectation, his hope, despite all of the dangers ahead. He wasn't being brave. Peter was being honest. He knew, that despite the terrors on the road, he was loved and belong to God in Christ. He knew what transforming love looked like and he was going all the way with Jesus. We are invited, in this latter days of Lent to go the distance. To see possibilities and new life even in the mess, the tangled highways of our lives. God is with us, even so.
Today I ask God to help me be like Peter, totally human and totally willing to follow despite all of the dangers ahead. May we know that transforming life waits for us, walks with us and is making the road ahead passable, even as we are falling down now.