What a difference a day can make! After witnessing Jesus feed over 5000 people, many wanted to "take Him by force and make Him king" (John 6:15). But the next day when Jesus talked about being the bread from heaven and said, "He who eats this bread will live forever" (John 6:58), many who had followed Him across the sea and listened to Him speak "went back and walked with Him no more" (John 6:66). An honest evaluation of Jesus will either lead to a complete embrace or a total rejection.
John 6:67-71 "Then Jesus said to the twelve, 'Do you also want to go away?' But Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus answered them, 'Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?' He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve."
Jesus had watched many who evaluated the cost of following Him decide to walk away. And now He turned to the select group of twelve and asked for a decision - a difficult decision of commitment: Knowing what you now know, do you still want to follow? Of course, Jesus knew the answer! But He often brings us to a place of decision for the wonderful benefit of strengthening our faith.
Peter, as he so often did, spoke up first - and as usual he spoke his mind, "To whom shall we go?" Peter had heard the words of eternal life and concluded Jesus was the One he would follow. Peter's words reflected what the Psalmist wrote: "Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You" (Psalm 73:25). Peter did not yet understand the full gospel message, but he had heard the words of Jesus and believed they were the words of truth.
Peter would continue to wrestle with how the words of Jesus should impact his life, and as more of the gospel message was revealed he would continue to grow in his belief. In fact, even after Jesus died on the cross and rose from the tomb Peter was continuing to learn and grow; "For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead" (John 20:9). Peter's journey of faith would last a lifetime, but it had its beginning in the simple belief of Jesus' word.
No one suspected Judas to be a betrayer. He was a member of the select group and acted like a true disciple - he walked and talked like a disciple - but it was clear he never believed the words of Jesus. It can be a dangerous mistake to assume that those who sit every week in church believe or even understand the gospel message. We must continually encourage and challenge one another to believe and apply all His revealed truth. Let's never settle for just the appearance of belief. Rather, let's believe the truth of His word and continue to study and grow in our belief until we know the eternal truth His word reveals.