Grumbling and Disbelief

“Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him” (v. 64).

- John 6:60–65

If there is anything that we learn from Jesus’ Bread of Life Discourse recorded in John 6:22–59, it is that there can be no half-hearted commitment to Christ. Because He is the bread of life, we must rely totally on Him and on nothing else for eternal life just as we rely fully on physical food to sustain our bodies. We must believe that only those who look on Jesus in faith will live forever. We must realize and confess that we have no power to believe in ourselves but rely on the electing grace of God for redemption. We must embrace Jesus alone as the way of salvation.

These are not popular words in our day. Many people want to be saved through a half-hearted commitment to Jesus as Savior but not as Lord, so they find repugnant the idea that there is only one way of salvation, and they think they are inherently good and able to make the right decisions for redemption. Today’s passage shows us that Jesus’ words on these matters were not any more popular with people two thousand years ago. Many of Jesus’ disciples, John 6:60 indicates, grumbled that His words were “hard.” This does not mean that they found Christ hard to understand. They understood what He was claiming. What they meant was that Jesus’ words were hard to receive.

We should note that the reference to grumbling disciples was not to the small band of intimate followers who were with Christ for most of His earthly ministry. These disciples had been attracted by Jesus’ words and deeds and were following Him as part of the crowd. They were people who professed some kind of allegiance to Jesus but who did not have true saving faith. We know this to be the case because they are distinguished from the Twelve in verse 67. In response to their lack of faith, however, Jesus did not make His message any softer or easier to believe. He pressed them, stating that if they thought the Bread of Life Discourse was offensive, then they would be even more offended when they saw Him returning to His place of origin (vv. 61–62). The reference here is likely not merely to His ascension to heaven after His resurrection but also to the crucifixion, which was the path through which His return to heaven would travel. If one could not bear the idea of full dependence on Jesus, one certainly could not fathom salvation through a crucified Messiah.

But the grumbling of the disciples and their eventual rejection of Him were no surprise to Jesus. He knew those to whom God would give saving faith in Him (vv. 63–65).

Coram Deo

Unregenerate people will find the truth of God hard to believe not because it does not make sense to their minds but because it offends their sensibilities about themselves. In response, we dare not water down the gospel to make it more acceptable. That will end up hiding the truth from people who need to hear it. Instead, we must preach the gospel faithfully, trusting the Lord to give faith to His elect.

Passages for Further Study

Exodus 8:15
Job 9:4
Matthew 23:37–39
2 Thessalonians 2:9–12

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