This section of scripture uncovers the true motivation of the crowd following Jesus: selfishness. This passage is part of a long dialogue where Christ clarifies the meaning of His miracles. Jesus has just explained that He, Himself, is the ”Bread of Life” which people are meant to seek. In response, the people complain amongst themselves. Jesus will give a further explanation of what He means by claiming to be the ”Bread of Life.” This, as is turns out, will make the crowd even more agitated, as the people move from seeking the truth, to complaining, to outright argument.
41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 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’?”
43 “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.’ 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: 41-51
Moans and Groans
Good works cannot save you! Only belief in the Son of Man can result in salvation, in eternal life and that Jesus is from heaven – these are claims the Jews see as controversial. To “mutter, to complain, or to grumble” – the Greek term is egongyzon – this is exactly the people’s reaction. This sort of reaction is a common reaction for the Israelites throughout their history – they would often complain when God didn’t follow their preferred plan.
Jesus’ teachings are really beginning to annoy the people but He continues to drive His political popularity despite this. The people’s annoyance only goes to prove the point Christ made when the crowds first arrived in Capernaum – their interest is in entertainment, signs and handouts and not in the truth.
The people see the miracles and hear the claims, but still do not believe.
Jesus making a public claim to have “come down from heaven” confused those who misunderstood His meaning. Some traditions held that the Messiah would virtually appear “out of nowhere so the idea that a thirty-year-old peasant from a small village could be the Promised One seemed absurd.
Some of Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels where Christ makes “do” or “do not” statements are instructive and meant to demonstrate Him as gentle in character as that of a teacher, or a guide. This is not one of those times. Jesus has performed miracles! He has clearly explained eternal life to the people – but still they respond with outrageous requests, lame excuses and now they are mumbling under their breath. Christ’s comments here are to sound coach-like but rather a scolding as if to say: “knock it off!”
Jesus again repeats the idea that He, Himself, is the Bread of Life, and the source of eternal salvation. They can either accept it or reject it, but they cannot later claim they did not know right from wrong.
Accept Jesus as the Bread of Life!
John 6:44: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” An almost identical from Jesus’ words in verse 37. By now the conversation has moved from the streets of Capernaum into the synagogue. Jesus restates this for emphasis as part of a back-and-forth debate.
Jesus repeats for the third time the idea that those whom God sends to Him will see eternal life (John 6:37; 39-40). This supports the doctrine of eternal security – meaning that those who are truly saved cannot ever lose their salvation, under any circumstances.
Once a person has come to faith in Christ, Christ will raise that person up to eternal life.
The Word of God provides many truths, and those who read them and know them have an obligation to follow the truth wherever they lead. Jesus here makes the claim that those who truly follow the Word of God will recognise that His claims are true. And yet the crowd still demanded that they an additional miracle—before they would accept the truth. But Jesus points out that they must be willing to learn the truth before they can see it.
Faith is believing in the unseen!
In this case, it is that God sends the Bread of Life, in the form of a Person. Those who accept this Messiah, by believing in Him, are guaranteed eternal life.
Jesus has knowledge which only He can possess—there are things He alone can speak of, since only He has seen them. No other person has experienced those heavenly things. This is why Jesus alone is the sole legitimate authority for spiritual truth.
“I am the bread of life.”
Jesus again repeats this claim. In the verses just before this, He has pointed out that since He is the only one who came from heaven, He is the only one who can speak with firsthand knowledge about it. This is why Jesus uses the “truly, truly” phrasing in John 6:47, to emphasise the original, personal, absolute nature of His claims.
In the next verses, Jesus gives a deeper explanation for how the manna provided for Israel in the wilderness was only a foreshadowing of His own ministry.
The manna found in the Old Testament is a prophecy of Jesus Christ. Its properties indicated the nature of Jesus: small (indicating humility), white (indicating purity), round (symbolic of eternity), and arriving at night (spiritual darkness). Manna, like salvation in Christ, could only be received—it could not be earned or made. Manna also provided the people with only two options: accept it and live, or disrespect it by walking right over it. The same choice—and only those two options—face all people when it comes to Christ.
Jesus’ statement that “this is the bread that comes down from heaven” has two purposes. First, it emphasises that Jesus is explaining the true meaning and the true purpose behind the symbol of bread. Secondly, Jesus is explicitly referring to Himself as the fulfillment of this idea. In the wilderness, God sent a source of physical life from heaven in the form of bread. Now, God has sent the source of eternal life from heaven in the form of Jesus Christ.
This final verse in this passage contains the statement which truly derails Jesus’ worldly popularity. Showing that His ministry is spiritual, not physical, has taken some of that enthusiasm away from people to make Him king. Now Jesus refers to the real role of the Messiah: to suffer and die for the people.The offering which will grant eternal life to those who believe is Jesus’ body: His flesh.
Don’t be selfish and only focus on your need for proof – believe in Christ and be saved!
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This is the by far one my favourite signs and wonders Jesus performs. In this part of John’s account of the Gospel, Jesus walks on water, we’ll get to the details in a bit. There are similar accounts of this story in the Gospel of Matthew 14:22-33 and Mark 6: 45-52, but it is only… Continue reading The Gospel of John – Walk on Water
This is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospel accounts (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15), which shows it is very significant to Jesus’ mission and so we won’t forget how much the Lord can do with the little things that are given to Him. The feeding of the 5 000 comes… Continue reading The Gospel of John – Supernatural Overflow