Returning now to the narrative of John chapter 6, Jesus has concluded His discussion about true food and true drink with the following result. John 6:66 As a result of this (the confusion over Jesus’ explanation of the spiritual meaning of the true “food”, and possibly His claim to be the Christ) many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. (The followers who withdrew were not true disciples in the spiritual sense. They were followers in the material sense. It appears that they were attracted to Jesus by the signs and miracles; wonders performed in the material world. His true disciples embraced the spiritual significance of the signs. But now the crowd has diminished dramatically and Jesus turns His attention to the twelve apostles.)
67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.” (Peter recognized that Jesus indeed had the words of eternal life. The words of Christ are not merely words of wisdom, not only moral platitudes, not just a higher ethic; they are words of eternal life. At their very core, the words of Christ are the words of life itself. Beginning in chapter 5, Jesus has used the words “eternal life” [or in some cases, just the word “life” to refer to eternal life] over and over again, well over a dozen times in these two chapters. And that message has not been lost on Peter. In fact, he confirms his belief and appears to speak for the group as well in the next verse.)
69 “We have believed (met the requirement for eternal life, see John 6:40) and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” (and the basis for our belief is your identity as the Christ, the Holy One of God.)
Think about the apostles’ progression of belief. Early on, the apostles lacked insight into Jesus’ true identity. Look at their reaction when Jesus calmed the stormy sea, “Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished, for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened” (Mk 6:551-52).
Fast forward to Matthew chapter 16, “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus said to Him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven’ ” (Mt 16:16-17). They went from hardened hearts to soft hearts that embraced God’s revelation concerning the identity of His Son.
Peter’s answer, “We have wholeheartedly placed our faith in your claim to be the Holy One of God” is a perfect capstone to this chapter. Is faith in Jesus the only way to heaven? Jesus has said so Himself at least a dozen times in our study and we still have a chapter to go.