Eventually… they began to question the meaning of Jesus’ words.
The crowd’s initial response to Jesus in last week’s Gospel was pretty simplistic. Having been fed they were intrigued enough to follow after Jesus. However, being in His presence causes them to ask questions.
The Jews murmured about Jesus because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven, ” and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” John 6:41-51
The murmuring is a next step in the process for the crowd and their understanding of who Jesus really is. They question who He is based on their current knowledge of Jesus as the son of Joseph and Mary. While they as Jews are awaiting a Messiah, they surely aren’t expecting Him to be the offspring of their simple neighbors.
Jesus acknowledges their murmuring questions with a lesson designed to help them understand things in a new context. In this statement Jesus points to the Father as the source of all things. He then makes it clear that He is the One that the Father has sent. Interestingly, Jesus reveals something significant at this point that really challenges the crowd. “…the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
Here is my question for you. Where in your life are you “murmuring” because of your current conception of who Christ is and what He is doing in the world around you?
This process is one that we all must go through, continually! We can’t ever fully understand who God is and what His plans are for us. What we can do is seek the full meaning of what Jesus is saying in this passage. “…the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” If that statement is not stretching us to embrace life with Christ in a greater and more powerful way then we might need to question our understanding of Him.
Eventually… we like the Jewish crowd, are going to be confronted by Jesus and that is when things get really interesting!