One of the most memorable scenes in the Gospel of John takes place between Jesus and the 12 Apostles as Chapter 6 concludes. After many had deserted Jesus upon hearing his challenging teaching, Jesus asks the Apostles where they stood in relation to his identity and willingness to follow him.
Notice how the details of this discussion unfold,
“‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘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.’”
This question was a “watershed moment” for the Apostles. The context also seems to imply this question and their answer to Jesus were both filled with emotion.
Speaking for the 12, Peter responds to Jesus by saying “to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” As Vincent points out, “Words of life are words which carry life with them.” The very words that Jesus just taught brought life in them if they would believe.
Lenski precisely summarizes the meaning of this interaction when he says,
“The ‘utterances’ of Jesus are the vital vehicles of language for the divine realities (Bread of Life, my flesh, my blood, etc.) by which ‘life eternal’ is brought to us, that hearing these ‘utterances we may appropriate the realities they name and thus have what they convey, namely ‘life eternal.’”
I love the descriptive words “vehicles of language” about the “utterances” of Jesus. A vehicle can be understood as the language that transports something from point “A” to point “B.” In this case, the vehicles of language employed by Jesus carry the message of eternal life from the Father to the world. Belief in this message will transport a person from death to life!
Father, thank you for the amazing life and teaching of Jesus. He speaks words of life for those who believe. I am so thankful for beginning my journey of eternal life with you as a freshman in college. Even to this day, some 40 years later, I can say like Peter, “to whom can I go other than you?” You alone have the words of eternal life!
Following Jesus with you,