I use to feel a mixture of insignificance and anger whenever people would tell me, “Christianity is a crutch for the weak.” I would smoulder inside, quietly thinking, “How dare they call me weak.”
These days I eagerly anticipate those words as a launching pad to the real truth: Christianity isn’t just a crutch for the weak––it’s resurrection for the dead.
Peter’s Best Moment
The apostle Peter makes a lot of mistakes in the gospel accounts. Alongside those mistakes though, he has a few great moments. John 6:68 is one of the greatest. The scene is this: Jesus has just finished his response to the Jews that have left some of the “disciples” offended and upset. The offences break down at least to these things few things:
- They wanted miracles like the multiplying of the bread (6:26), while Jesus wanted to take them to the spiritual realities to which the miracle of the bread was pointing.
- They couldn’t believe Jesus would claim to be greater than Moses, sent by God and able to impart life (6:32–34).
- They misunderstood Jesus to be directing them to actually eat his flesh and drink his blood (6:56).
So, the crowds of disciples begin leaving and abandoning Jesus. And as they are filtering out Jesus turns to the twelve and says, “Do you want to go away as well?” Peter responds, in a moment of divine clarity, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (6:68, 69).
Do you know what Peter’s response ultimately breaks down to? “Jesus, I/we need you.”
Lord, to whom shall we go? Since Peter answers his own question in the next sentence, this is obviously rhetorical. It is to say, “Jesus even if we wanted to leave, we have no one to leave to, because…
You have the words of eternal life. Peter understands something more than the crowds of disciples do; that his need is greater than loaves of bread, miracles and political revolutions. He needs more than a crutch; he needs spiritual life. And there is no one else to go to for it. Jesus’ words and his words alone are life (6:63), because…
We have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God. God alone gives new life. If Jesus will say, “I give them eternal life” (John 10:28), it is because He is claiming to be one with God. And for Peter to believe Jesus is the Holy One of God is to actually entrust himself to Jesus for this life, since “belief” in the Gospel of John is overladen with tones of complete dependence.
So, as the crowds disperse Peter does not move an inch, because there is nowhere else to be, because his need is nothing short of new life, and Jesus is the God of resurrection.
The Resurrection Argument
The more years that go by the more I realize that I never need a crutch to lean on. I am weaker than that, more broken than that, and more destitute than that. A crutch? No, I need something/someone greater than that. In my own moment of clarity some months ago, I wrote in my journal, “I have no strength in myself, I have no wisdom in myself, I know not how to go forward, except that I must stay in your shadow and cling tightly to your side. It is no unique revelation, but it is great. I need Jesus.”
Or to say it another way, a better way, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”