“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 6:68-69 ESV)
The Scriptures speak of false followers of Jesus who appear to believe but eventually fall away. Their faith is spurious – pretending to be what it is not. When discipleship becomes costly, they turn back from Jesus and demonstrate they never possessed genuine faith.
In John 6, we find Jesus being abandoned by false followers. Many of his disciples “turned back and no longer walked with him ” (v. 66). Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Do you want to go away as well?” (v. 67). Peter’s response to Jesus reveals three marks of a true follower of Jesus (vv. 68-69).
1) A true follower of Jesus recognizes there is no alternative to Jesus: “Lord, to whom shall we go?” A genuine disciple sees Jesus as the one and only, not one of many. He is the only way, not one of many ways. Faith sees Jesus and nothing else. Once you truly treasure Jesus, everything else becomes worthless. No one else compares to Jesus. There is nowhere to go but to Jesus.
2) A true follower of Jesus affirms the preciousness of Jesus’ teaching: “You have the words of eternal life.” Peter accepts Christ’s words as being spirit and life. He gets it. One of the greatest marks of being a true disciple is reception of all of Christ’s words – both the easy sayings and the hard. His teaching has authority, should be obeyed, and leads to eternal life.
3) A true follower of Jesus confesses that Jesus is God: “You are the Holy One of God.” Jesus is not just a great prophet, miracle-worker, or teacher. Jesus truly is God. Genuine faith looks to Jesus in all that He is and believes in Him.
True followers of Jesus know and believe in Jesus as God, as the only Way, and as the One who has the very words of life. This genuine faith is nothing to boast about in and of ourselves. It is by the grace of God that we see Jesus for who He really is and believe in Him with a persevering faith. If these marks of a true follower of Jesus are present in your life, thank God with all humility and joy. For He has granted you genuine faith like He did with Peter:
“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.‘” (Matthew 16:15-17 ESV)