During the summer of 1787, the delegates from the United States of America met in Philadelphia to agree upon a way to govern the newly formed union. Within the walls of the Pennsylvania State House, now known as Independence Hall, the delegates debated issues like branches of government, representation, and who had the right to vote. Though none knew the future, these Founding Fathers knew the words used in that document, the Constitution, would serve as the framework for all legal and judicial matters for generations to come, significantly affecting quality of life for their ancestors.
More than 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ gave us words that go even further than that of the Founding Fathers, for Jesus spoke truth with authority, not like someone merely reciting truthful statements. (Matthew 7:29) Do we treat his words as supremely valuable, as our framework?
In John 6, Jesus told a large crowd things like, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst,” (v. 35) and, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (v. 56) Not surprisingly, we read in verse 66 that many disciples stopped following Jesus at that moment. If we’re honest, we can all read that passage and be shocked and even repulsed at the idea of eating another’s flesh and drinking his blood. Maybe Peter felt that way, maybe he didn’t, but when Jesus asked if he wanted to also turn away, his ultimate conclusion was this: “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.” (v. 68)
In the United States, in legal matters, we default to the Constitution; it’s our “go to” for fairness and equality, regardless of personal opinion. For instance, in some criminal cases, a trial may seem unnecessary, but according to the 6th Amendment, “the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.” We submit to the Constitution because it’s the basis of our nation. If we submit to an excellent, but man-made document in this manner, how much more should we submit to the commands given by “the Holy One of God?”
As crazy as it sounds to eat his flesh and drink his blood, those words can be taken as true, eternal words because of who said them. If Peter didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah, that Jesus has ultimate authority, it’s likely he would’ve turned away, too. Colossians 1:18 tells us of Jesus, “He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” Inevitably, because of our finite, human perspectives, some of our infinite Lord’s words will unsettle us and maybe sound strange, but we submit because of who he’s proven himself to be – “the Holy One of God.”
For over 220 years, the United States has strove, perhaps imperfectly at times, to submit to the Constitution and it has defined us as a nation in pursuit of “liberty, and justice for all.” Even more, may we be known as a people in submission to Christ, pursuing exactly what he’s pursuing.