Wednesday, March 7, 2012

John 6:41-66

...and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. (I Cor 12:3)

When I first read this verse more than 30 years ago, I had a big “Aha!” moment. Some of you may think I should call it a “Duh!” moment! No one can possibly understand that Jesus is Lord by pure intellectual pursuit. It is not something that you can discern for yourself. It is something that the Holy Spirit must reveal to you. And it certainly explains the dullness of this group of people who were confused when Jesus claimed to be the Bread of Life. They were taken aback by this claim, because they knew he was just a carpenter, the son of Joseph and Mary. So they began to grumble among themselves:

At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” (John 6:41-42)

You know, God does NOT like grumbling! It’s what the Israelites did throughout the book of Exodus. One of the things they grumbled about was God’s provision of daily manna from heaven. They got tired of eating the same thing every day. So this grumbling here in chapter 6 is over the fact that Jesus is saying HE is the Bread from heaven. And they don’t think He looks too good either! Hey - he’s just one of us! How can he be from heaven? Jesus responds the same way Moses did:

“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (vs. 43-51)

This was an outrageous claim, and it cause the Jews to “argue sharply among themselves.” (vs. 52) Not only was it hard for the Jews to receive, even his own disciples could not receive it, and they, too began grumbling:

Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. (vs.61-66)

See how the grumbling was tied to disbelief? If we are grumbling at God about our circumstances or something we read in His Word, aren’t we saying, “I can’t believe you would allow this?” or “You can’t possibly mean this?” And some people, especially ones new in their faith, will turn away in discouragement when God doesn’t answer their prayers in the way they wanted. “You didn’t save my marriage, God.” “You could have healed my spouse.” “You could have given ME that promotion instead of the other guy.” “Why did you let me lose my house?” And Jesus tells us here and in the verse from 1 Corinthians above that without the help of the Holy Spirit, we can’t possibly understand Who He is and what He is doing in our lives. Spiritual things are revealed by the Spirit.

Maybe you are in a place where you are grumbling like the disciples and thinking “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Jesus is saying, “Trust me! I am the very One you need for your sustenance and survival. Eternal life is found nowhere else. The teaching may be hard - your circumstances may be beyond anything you can comprehend, but I AM the Bread of Life, I AM in control, and I KNOW where I’m taking you!” Holy Spirit, please reveal to those who are hurting, and maybe even grumbling, what you are working out in their lives. Help them to trust and believe that Jesus is everything they need.

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