Politicians know that in order to be successful in their campaign for office, they need to communicate optimism about the future. Voters rarely reward candidates who announce that they don’t have the answers or can’t see the solution.
Dealing with dashed expectations can be traumatic, and today we see the fallout of Jesus’ telling people that they cannot put Him in a box. The fact that He is what they need makes little difference, and many leave (v. 66).
Some commentators mistakenly see verse 60 as an indication that Jesus’ speech was too lofty for His hearers or that He operated on a higher spiritual plane. While Jesus did say things that may be beyond full human understanding, His meaning was plain. Indeed, we might suggest many left because they understood all too well. This humble man from Nazareth would not follow in Moses’ footsteps. In fact, He is the reason for Moses’ existence at all—He is the source of life itself.
Turning to His disciples, Jesus gives them another reminder of His origin (v. 62). An earthly perspective won’t explain spiritual reality (v. 63). It’s important to note that Jesus is not dismissing the importance of physical creation—nor should we expect Him to. After all, He created it and called it "good!"
In a passage that mirrors Matthew 16:13–20, Peter sees with "the Spirit" and confesses Christ’s true nature, as the full embodiment of the union of heaven—He is fully God—and earth—He is fully human. Gifted by the Spirit, Peter can join Christ in sharing the life that Christ has, and so can we. But this chapter closes with an ominous warning of what might happen to us if we refuse this gift. As John’s Gospel hints, we will see later what will unfold because of Judas’s rejection of the Son of God.
Apply the Word
Jesus’s words were likely as hard for Peter to hear as for the others. Though he might have been confused or downcast, Peter wanted to cling to this truth: "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines . . . yet I will rejoice in the LORD" (Hab. 3:17–18). Life may disappoint us, but where else would we go? Christ has the words of eternal life.