The Murmuring of the Jews (John 6:41-59)

This is part 76 of our study of The Gospels
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When Jesus boldly proclaimed himself to be the true bread of life from heaven, it greatly troubled the Jewish crowd. In disbelief, they questioned him.

 

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John 6:41-59

41  The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.

42  And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?

43  Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.

44  No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

45  It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

46  Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.

47  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

48  I am that bread of life.

49  Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

50  This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

51  I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

52  The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

53  Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

54  Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

55  For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

56  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

57  As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

58  This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

59  These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

Jesus had the fed the crowd of more than 5000 people. Though he sent them away, they found him on the other side of the sea of Galilee, hoping to get more his miracle bread.

He began to teach them about the true bread of heaven.

In the midst of their confusion, he declared…

John 6:35
35  …I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

But he also knew that they would not believe…

John 6:36
36  But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.

They did not believe though the evidence was right in front of them…

Isaiah 6:9
9  And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.

When a person has seen and still does not believe, there is no amount of reason that will convince them.

Jesus did not attempt to clarify things for them. He confused them even more and would continue to do so throughout his ministry.

Remember the reason he gave for speaking in parables…

Matthew 13:10-11
10  And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
11  He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

His parables revealed truth to some but concealed it from others.

The thought that our Lord would keep his truth from some people is a hard pill to swallow. In our minds, if a person doesn’t believe, we should try harder.

But Jesus told his apostles…

Matthew 10:13-14
13  And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.
14  And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

There is no reason to beat a dead horse, as the expression goes. Some people will not believe because they cannot believe.

Jesus gave the positive aspect of this in what we read last week…

John 6:37
37  All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

Christ’s personal comfort was in knowing that those chosen and given to Christ by the Father would come to him. Maybe not today, tomorrow, or in any public, obedient way, but they would come to him.

But what about those not given by the Father?

Let’s begin reading…

John 6:41
41  The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.

The crowd grumbled and complained because they struggled with two aspects of what he had said:
He said that he had come down from heaven.
He said that he was the bread of life.
Here’s the first problem in their own words…

John 6:42
42  And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?

That would be difficult to grasp. They knew his parents. They knew the town he was from. Furthermore, his parents nor the town were much to speak of. How could he claim to be from heaven?

This would have been an opportune time to talk about the virgin birth or perhaps a number of other things.

Jesus responded…

John 6:43
43  Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.

He might as well have said, “Don’t bother trying to understand this because you won’t.”

Notice what he said next…

John 6:44
44  No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

This is the other side of what he already taught. On one hand, if the Father gives a person to Christ, he will come to Christ. On the other hand, if the Father does not give a person (or draw him), he will not.

First, let me explain what the Lord was describing to them. The only ones who will come to Christ in any sense will be those drawn (like water from a well) by God the Father.

Maybe you thought all we had to do was seek Christ. But that in and of itself is a problem…

Romans 3:10-11
10  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
11  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

We are a people shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin. We won’t and can’t seek after God without divine intervention.

Paul said it this way as he wrote to believers…

Ephesians 2:1-9
1  And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
2  Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
3  Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4  But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5  Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
7  That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

If we’re all children of wrath and utterly undeserving and helpless, how then does God choose who to draw?

Paul also wrote…

Ephesians 1:3-6
3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6  To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Anyone who wants to argue with the sovereignty of God…

Romans 9:14-16
14  What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
15  For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
16  So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

Christ affirmed the sovereignty of God later…

John 12:37-40
37  But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:
38  That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
39  Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,
40  He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

But how does that square with God’s loving nature? How could a loving, merciful God blind their eyes or harden their hearts?

It’s not as though God makes someone an unbeliever. We are unbelievers by nature and God merely doesn’t change some. He allows people to continue on with their blind eyes and hardened hearts. God is merciful but also just. It’s a judicial blindness and hardening.

We’re really asking the wrong question. We shouldn’t ask why God allows people to remain unbelievers and unsaved. We should ask why he does save some and allow them to believe. None of us deserve it.

If you believe, don’t be frightened by the idea of God’s sovereignty. You can come to Christ, you will never be cast out.

In the end, Christ knew his message was for those the Father had given him. Those drawn by the Father.

This was a tough idea for the crowd to grasp as they would later admit…

John 6:60
60  Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

But it was such a simple lesson so long as they believed.

Jesus continued…

John 6:45
45  It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

It was long ago written by the prophets that the people of Israel would be taught by God. Jesus was God…

Malachi 3:1
1  Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.

There are two ways to look at verse 45:

  1. Everyone drawn of God will come to Christ.
  2. Everyone that comes to Christ is drawn of God.

What Jesus was really saying was, “If you believe God and his teachings, you would believe me.”

In case they were waiting on God’s voice from heaven…

John 6:46
46  Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.

Jesus was God in the flesh. He was not likely what they expected to see if they were looking at God.

Even so…

John 6:47-48
47  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
48  I am that bread of life.

That word, hath, doesn’t mean will have. It means has had and does have everlasting life.

As we talked about last week, belief is not a condition for everlasting life. It’s an assurance.

Next, Christ essentially repeated himself…

John 6:49-51
49  Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
50  This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
51  I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Their argument against his bread was that miraculous bread was provided in the wilderness that fed more than a million for forty years. But those people are dead now, aren’t they?

Christ came to give eternal life through the sacrifice of his body and the shedding of his blood. But to the unbeliever, dead in sin, that’s a strange thing to hear.

This leads to the second problem the crowd had with what Jesus said…

John 6:52
52  The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

They’re still thinking in natural terms. They’re still looking for natural bread with magic powers.

Jesus does clear up things for the unbelievers…

John 6:53-54
53  Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
54  Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

If Jesus is not being literal, then why was his analogy so specific and so grotesque?

He was saying, “You must be willing to accept my flesh and my blood for the atonement for your sins.” There is no other way.

The major issue among the Jews was that they didn’t think they needed to be saved.

We need Christ and if the Father has drawn us and given us to him, then we have life and intimacy with him…

John 6:55-59
55  For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
56  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
57  As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
58  This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
59  These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

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