Hence, Jesus turns to the few disciples left with him, and asks one of his probing questions: “Do you also wish to go away?” To go away from what or whom? From Christ, from his words, from the unknown God acting on human beings in and through Christ. In effect Jesus asks, “Do you want to break communion with God? Do you want to leave me? Why?”
Typically it is Peter who speaks for disciples: “LORD, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life....” Note that Peter does not call him “Jesus,” as Peter is speaking to God-in-Christ, and uses the sacred, divine Name, Yahweh (translated as “LORD”). In typical Jewish style, Peter asks a question in response to Jesus’ question. To whom else could Peter go? To whom or to what can you go if you leave God? If you decided to cut free from God and His truth, what would you do? Where would you go to flee the face of God? As the Psalmist notes (139), “Even if I lie in the grave, YOU are there.” How does one escape the living God? Ask the first man. He tried to escape, hiding behind a tree (Genesis 3). Apart from the divine light, it is all darkness. Nothingness.
Then Peter gives his personal reason, Everyman’s reason, for staying with God-in-Christ: “You have the words of eternal life.” Surely each creature wants to live, and to live forever. Nowhere can such life and truth be found except in union with God. That is what “eternal life” means: true human life in union with divine LIFE. It is not only unending, but full of divinity, joyful beyond words, radiant in truth. Because Peter hears Christ speaking “the words of eternal life,” he identifies the One speaking to him: “You are the Holy One of God.”
One God-in-Christ, yet such diverse responses. Why is it that so few persons stayed with Christ? What is there about the unknown God speaking through Jesus that proves unacceptable, undesirable to so many? Is not one reason that many persons prefer ancient beliefs to living in God’s presence? According to Jesus, they think that “the old wine is better.” Ancient beliefs are familiar, safe, unthreatening. The God whose Presence enters a human soul is uncontrollable, ever new, always drawing one beyond himself into unchartered waters. Jesus draws one through religious beliefs into communion with the nameless I AM.