“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’[d]Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6.43-51
No where else in Scripture have I seen such a blitz of deep thoughts from Jesus to his people. In these eight verses Jesus mentions– 1) being drawn to the Father, 2) resurrection of the body, 3) hearing from God, 4) seeing God, 5) eternal life, 6) bread of life, 7) living bread of heaven, 8) bread of flesh, and 9) him being the sacrifice for the world. Each one could be a dissertation in itself!
It’s eight verse of very good news being blitzed to a people who understand very little of what Jesus is talking about. His rebuke to them first about grumbling is intended to get their focus off themselves and on him. It’s kind of like he says, “Hey guys, stop it! It’s not about you. I am more than the carpenters son, I am Messiah!”
Perhaps in this segment Jesus is doing just that — transferring focus off grumbling and doubting Jews to shed light on who he is as the Christ. I mean, gosh, look at it! He throws out just about everything that he is. I can just picture the Jews all huddled up with each other and meanwhile, God-in-the-flesh-Jesus is telling them who he is and what he can do but no one is listening! They are having their own little General Conference session (oops did I go there for my United Methodist friends?!) and he’s like — “Look at me, listen to me, love me!”
The claims Jesus makes about himself in these eight verses alone are amazing and should demand our full attention. I mean this guy has direct access to God the Father! He knows that God draws people to himself, and no one can come to him unless they are “drawn” (a study for another time). He’s telling the Jews that he’s the only one who has seen God and that he’s from God. He tells them he can offer eternal life because he is the bread of life (and of heaven) who is being sacrificed for the sins of many. And that this bread is his flesh which he is offering for the world!
Meanwhile, the church, disciples, delegates, bishops are arguing about whether or not we can sin more by obeying culture rather than Christ and throw out the authority of God’s Word to meet the demands of our culture. How did they/we ignore and overlook Jesus to fill our own desires and believe that “love is love is love.” Love is not love, rather, love is God and God is love. He has written his Word on our hearts and in the pages of the Bible for all to follow and all to believe.
It must have pained Jesus that the grumbling and doubting was so pervasive. That while he was standing in their midst, they were focused on what they wanted above what God desires.
Is it any different today?
“O Lord God, I can’t help but make the comparison between the modern church and the first century church. The only difference is who the audience was and those of us today have the whole story. Yet still we argue! If those in your presence didn’t believe, why should we? So much of our church is seeking allowances outside of your Holy World. Help us Lord! Return favor to your people can call us to holiness, righteousness and obedience. Help us turn from sin and toward a Savior who loves us with an everlasting love. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen