In today’s gospel many people take offense at Jesus’ invitation to eat his flesh and drink his blood; even many of Jesus’ disciples peel off. This is the backdrop in John’s gospel for Peter’s confession of faith. “To whom can we go?” asks Peter, in words we sometimes sing just before the gospel is read. “You have the words of eternal life.” In order to take such a stand, as Peter and Joshua did, Paul tells us to arm ourselves with the word of God. We pray in the Spirit that we might be bold ambassadors of the gospel.
Readings and Psalm
- Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18
Joshua calls all Israel to serve the Lord
- Psalm 34:15-22
The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous. (Ps. 34:15)
- Ephesians 6:10-20
Put on the armor of God
- John 6:56-69
The bread of eternal life
Who Can Accept It?
“This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” (John 6:60). Jesus’ teaching about eating his flesh and drinking his blood isn’t something we can figure out and accept on our own. In his explanation of the third article of the Apostles’ Creed, Martin Luther writes these often-quoted and memorized words: “I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him.” The question of accepting Jesus’ difficult teachings gets turned on its head. No one can accept it. The good news of Jesus is too radical, unsettling, and illogical for us to accept. Through the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit we are able to echo Peter’s profession of faith: “You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69). Like Peter, we have come to believe—despite our doubts and weakness of faith—through the Spirit’s work in the word.