After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “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.” John 6:66-69
If there is one thing that Jesus does well, it is meeting people where they are and challenging their sin. In John 6, we find Jesus having just fed the 5000, and then insisting instead that the eat of Him, for He is the true bread of life (vv. 48-59). Think how offensive this would have been to you if you had been in the audience! Eat Your flesh and drink Your blood? I can’t imagine that any PR firm would have encouraged Jesus to say such a thing. They probably would have cut that part right out of His speech.
But Jesus, a master storyteller, uses physical bread as a metaphor to meet the people where they are in that moment. Longing for bread, He gives them something better: Himself. When the woman at the well was longing for water, He gives her the living water: Himself (see John 4). He sees their need, and presents a better option – an option bigger and better than their sin. Jesus knows that the best thing He can give us is Himself, and it is the only thing that will truly satisfy: now and later. Bread is for a moment, water is for a moment, but the Bread of Life and the Living Water never fail.
This is where we begin the story in “Nowhere Else”. The crowds find Jesus’ teaching offensive. Indeed, so do the disciples, as revealed by their grumbling and questioning in verses 60 and 61. The crowds walk away because they do not hear Jesus saying what they want Him to say. He is not a false teacher like Paul describes to Timothy, saying anything our itching ears want to hear (see 2 Timothy 4:3-4), but instead Jesus is presenting the hard – but only – truth.
When we as believers are presented with this hard truth, we have two options: walk away or stay. And Peter speaks for many other believers when he responds, “where else can we go?” Peter, for all of his faults, sees the truth and measures it against his desire to go his own way. It is almost as if we see his inner monologue saying, “This is a hard truth, one I don’t want to accept, but it IS the truth. There is nowhere else I can rightfully turn”.
To be honest, one of the greatest testimonies I can give to a nonbeliever about the legitimacy of the gospel and the deity of Christ is the mere fact that I would rather it not be this way! I would RATHER go my own way, doing what I choose, fulfilling every awful desire that my flesh has. There is an easiness to that, a laziness that I need not be concerned with others, or even truth itself, but merely doing anything I want to do. Yet the Holy Spirit convicts me again and again, over and over, through the Word that Jesus is who He says He is, and where else can I go? What else can I do but follow Him? There is indeed nowhere else I can go.
“Nowhere Else” is about the tension between the constant tugging of the world on your shirt tail versus the overpowering conviction from the Holy Spirit that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, and His way is the only way that we can go. It is a call for us to surrender. Surrender our own sinful desires over to Christ, and He will lead us in the way we should go (Psalm 25:8).
Jesus’ words in John 6 about being bread and water – the way to true life – echo Isaiah 30:20-21:
And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.