Summary: Reactions to Jesus’ claims vary, grumbling is one of them.
"...And They Grumbled" -John 6:41-51
As many of you know, school started up again this last week. For those schools that didn’t, don’t worry… it’s comin’ soon! And all across this great land, children will be mourning the loss of a summer gone too quickly. You can imagine the scene…Little Joey loading his new backpack with all his new school supplies. “Why do I have to go to school?” “Just when I was having fun!” “School is boring and so are my teachers, why can’t I just keep on playing?” That’s what we call grumbling.
Another example of grumbling…Jeff just got passed over for promotion, again. He sits at his desk and he thinks, “I hate this job.” “My boss is a jerk.” “I am the hardest worker in this place. I deserve better than this. I am better than this. And I am better than all of them.”
Here’s another example…a studious young Vicar. Working hard on his first sermon at the new congregation. He proudly hands in his transcript to his supervising Pastor. Only to get it back marred with red ink. All over it. The witty and wonderful illustration he had at the beginning is crossed out by the Pastor’s pen and the words, “Great Story!! Doesn’t fit the rest of the sermon, get back to work,” are written in the margin. That part actually happened. This part didn’t but you can use your imaginations. The Vicar could have thought, “Who does that guy think he is??” “Just because he is older and has less hair he thinks he is wiser.” “That stole doesn’t make him all that different, I’ve seen him at 6 in the morning.” Once again, if that had happened, it would have been grumbling.
Recently we heard sermon on the miracle of Jesus feeding more than 5000 people with just 5 loaves and 2 fish. We learned how the people ate and were satisfied. Even after this miracle, even after the crowd had their fill and were satisfied, many of them continued to follow Jesus and they demanded even more miracles. They wanted Jesus to prove to them who He was by showing them another sign.
We see in our text today how Jesus answered their demands. He didn’t perform another miracle. Instead, He told them that He is the bread of life and that they should look for food that endures to everlasting life rather than pursuing earthly bread that simply doesn’t last. Jesus went on to say that He was the Bread of Life that came down from heaven. Today’s reading tells us that the people didn’t buy that idea. Matter of fact, they were downright offended by it.
The Scripture says that they grumbled against him – (v.41 ) “The Jews complained (grumbled) about him because he said “I am the Bread of Life that came down from heaven”. Simply stated, they did not believe.
The people of Jesus’ day grumbled against Him. These folks seem to be grumbling a lot-especially when Jesus reveals who He is, the Son of God. Rather than responding to this Good News with faith, rather than responding with “Lord we believe, please help our unbelief,” they ask, “How in the world can this be?” Even after He performs miracles for them and shows through His actions, not only who He is, but how much He loves and cares for them, they still grumble.
Jesus came as a King; He came as the Son of God, who took on the flesh of mankind so that He could save mankind; but His lowly birth and social status gave people an opportunity to “talk” and “murmur” and complain about His claims to be of Heavenly descent. “We know you,” they said – “aren’t you the son of that carpenter Joseph and was not Mary your mother?” If these same people spoke in this same manner about the Roman Emperor, they would have been executed. Yet somehow the King of Kings is the object of their scorn.
Like any other sin, when the sin of grumbling gets out of hand, the problem just gets worse and worse. This unchecked sin leads to them wanting to get rid of Jesus. So they begin to devise ways to dispose of this “trouble-maker”. They begin to formulate schemes to kill Him.
The grumbling intensifies when they finally had Him betrayed and brought before the Sanhedrin. They got bolder in their sin. “Who does this guy think He is anyway? Does He think He is God?”
On the morning they had Pilate beat Him, and bring Him before the crowd; they started milling among the people grumbling against Jesus. It works. Within a few short minutes they have the crowd not only grumbling against Jesus, but screaming at the top of their lungs, “CRUCIFY HIM!!!”