Jesus – the Path to Eternal Life
Today’s Gospel concludes the “Bread of Life discourse” in the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. In the preceding verses, which we have heard proclaimed in our liturgy over the past few weeks, we have heard Jesus explain that he is the Bread of Life, given so that those who believe may have eternal life. This discourse follows the miracle in which Jesus fed more than five thousand people with five barley loaves and two fish. As Jesus has been teaching these things, John’s Gospel describes a murmuring crowd unable to accept Jesus’ words. In today’s Gospel, the crowd has dwindled in number, and John no longer references them, or the Jews. Instead John describes the questioning of those considered to be Jesus’ own disciples.
The Gospel first records the response of those in the crowd who are described as Jesus’ disciples. Simon Peter’s response to Jesus’ question as to whether those closest to him will also leave, reminds us of the reports of Peter’s confession of faith in the Synoptic Gospels. Peter announces, on behalf of all the Twelve, that they have come to believe all that Jesus has taught about himself: Jesus is the one from God in whom they have found the path to eternal life. This conclusion of the Bread of Life discourse focuses on personal faith in the life of Christian discipleship. Each person must make his or her own judgment about who Jesus is and in doing so determine the way of life that he or she will follow. God’s grace invites us to be Jesus’ disciples, but each person must respond to the grace of God and confess as his or her own the belief that Jesus is the one from God. This faith then commits us to the path of life, leading us to eternal life.