In the 1982 classic “An Officer and a Gentleman”, Richard Gere delivers his famous line: “I got nowhere else to go!” It’s one of my favorite movie scenes and I use the line (probably) too often. It’s a running joke between me and my wife, Christine.
The scene is a pivotal moment for Gere’s character. He finds himself in a situation where all his selfish plans have failed, when his repeated rejection of authority has positioned him at a crossroads. He realizes at the instant when all is about to be lost that he needs exactly what he has been fighting against.
Jesus’ followers found themselves at a similar crossroads in John 6. There was a division in the crowd after a sharp discourse between Jesus and those who questioned His authority. Many chose to leave Him, but Peter responds heroically. Let’s set the stage.
A swelling crowd was following Jesus due to the signs and miracles He had performed. After teaching the crowd, he feeds them (5000 men as well as the women and children) with just five barley loaves and two fish. He then walks on water that night. Busy day! The next day, the people find Him again and ask for yet another sign. Building on the food miracle, Jesus uses their history where God provided food (manna) in the wilderness after delivering the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. He tells them that He is God among them, that He is “the bread of life” (John 6:35) who has come down from Heaven (John 6:38).
This claim is difficult for many to swallow. They grumble, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” (John 6:42) Jesus responds strongly to their disbelief.
47 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. 48 Yes, I am the bread of life! 49 Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. 50 Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” (John 6:47-51)
This was too much for the crowd. While Jesus is clearly using metaphor to describe the acceptance of His physical death on the cross as payment for their (our) sins, they choose to close their minds and hearts to Him and interpret His words literally. As His followers disperse, He turns to His 12 disciples and asks, “Are you also going to leave?” (John 6:67) This is Peter’s “Gere moment”. His response is perfect.
68 Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. 69 We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69)
It is my sincere desire that you experience your own “Gere moment”. While it may sound harsh, I hope that all your efforts to save yourself fail miserably and lead you to the point where you cry out, “I got nowhere else to go!” I am qualified to want this for you because I’ve been there myself. I’ve constructed and worshiped false idol after idol that ultimately failed me. It was only from my knees, hopeless and defeated, that I was finally able to admit that Jesus was my only true Savior. Here’s the life-changing news. When you call on Him, Jesus responds with complete acceptance, true love, and no condemnation. Peace and joy to you, friend!