Holiness Incarnate

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’” (vv. 68–69).

- John 6:60–69

God revealed the importance of His holiness code when He struck down Nadab and Abihu for approaching Him in an irreverent manner, which is not surprising, since He put His own holy character on display when He gave the Law to Moses and the Israelites (Lev. 10:1–11; 19:1–2). Yet God also knew that His people would fall far short of the glory He desired for them and that He would need to perform a new work of grace and salvation to perfect them (Isa. 62:12). This work He began to enact when He brought His people home from their Babylonian exile, establishing them once more and protecting them from all their enemies (Ezek. 38).

The Lord God Almighty finally accomplished all of this in the work of Christ Jesus. In every aspect of His ministry — past, present, and future — Jesus shows the reverence with which we must approach our holy, triune God, and offers Himself as the pattern for what it means to reflect the Father’s holiness (Matt. 5:48; 1 Peter 2:22). Christ’s work of salvation establishes us as His holy people (1 Peter 2:9– 10), and He will preserve us forever in a new heavens and a new earth (Rev. 21:1–8).

Jesus did and continues to do all this because He is the very incarnation of holiness. Today’s passage records a well-known exchange between Jesus and the disciples, right after He reveals Himself as the living Bread (John 6:22–59). When many others leave Him, the Savior asks Peter and the other disciples if they will join this crowd of fair-weather friends (vv. 60–67). Peter tells Jesus that it would be impossible for them to leave Him, for they understand that He alone has the words of life (v. 68). As the eminent New Testament scholar Leon Morris writes in his commentary on this passage: “When a man once knows Jesus, none else can satisfy.”

Peter also notes that Jesus is the “Holy One of God” (v. 69), which should be understood as a vital clue to His identity. The title appears elsewhere in the Gospels as a designation of Jesus as the promised Messiah (Mark 1:24), but it also has clear links to an old covenant title for God — the “Holy One of Israel” (2 Kings 19:22; Isa. 48:17). Whether or not Peter knew it at this stage of Jesus’ ministry, to call his master the “Holy One of God” is to identify Him with Yahweh, the covenant Lord of Israel and the one, true Creator. As this Creator, Jesus can truly create a holy people.

Coram Deo

Because He is the Holy One of Israel, Jesus can, through the power of His Holy Spirit, make us into His holy people. As we grow older, we should be seeing this work of holiness progress in our lives, as it is displayed in a greater sorrow for sin and deeper reliance on the Lord’s grace to save us from every vestige of wickedness that remains. Turn to Him this day, and He will grant you all of this and more.

Passages for Further Study

Isaiah 54:5
Luke 4:31–37

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