They Murmur

But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.
~ John 2:24-25

Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
~ Hebrews 4:13

From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
~ John 6:66

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
~ John 8:31

Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
~ John 8:43

The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?
~ John 6:41-42

And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague.
~ Numbers 11:33

Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
~ 1 Corinthians 10:10

And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
~ Matthew 11:6

Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
~ Hebrews 5:11

As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
~ 2 Peter 3:16

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
~ 1 Corinthians 15:45

But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.
~ John 6:36

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
~ John 6:37

But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
~ John 10:26-27

Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: John 6:60-65, by J.C. Ryle. The following contains an excerpt from his work.

Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
~ John 6:60-65

Verses 60-65

WE learn from these verses that some of Christ’s sayings seem hard to flesh and blood. We are told that “many” who had followed our Lord for a season, were offended when He spoke of “eating his flesh and drinking his blood.” They murmured and said, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?”

Murmurs and complaints of this kind are very common. It must never surprise us to hear them. They have been, they are, they will be as long as the world stands. To some Christ’s sayings appear hard to understand. To others, as in the present case, they appear hard to believe, and harder still to obey. It is just one of the many ways in which the natural corruption of man shows itself. So long as the heart is naturally proud, worldly, unbelieving, and fond of self-indulgence, if not of sin, so long there will never be wanting people who will say of Christian doctrines and precepts, “These are hard sayings; who can hear them?”

Humility is the frame of mind which we should labor and pray for, if we would not be offended. If we find any of Christ’s sayings hard to understand, we should humbly remember our present ignorance, and believe that we shall know more by and bye. If we find any of His sayings difficult to obey, we should humbly recollect that He will never require of us impossibilities, and that what He bids us do, He will give us grace to perform.

We learn, secondly, from these verses, that we must beware of putting a carnal meaning on spiritual words. We read that our Lord said to the murmuring Jews who stumbled at the idea of eating His flesh and drinking His blood, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.”

It is useless to deny that this verse is full of difficulties. It contains expressions “hard to be understood.” It is far more easy to have a general impression of the meaning of the whole sentence, than to explain it word by word. Some things nevertheless we can see clearly and grasp firmly. Let us consider what they are.

Our Lord says, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth.” By this He means that it is the Holy Ghost who is the special author of spiritual life in man’s soul. By His agency it is first imparted, and afterwards sustained and kept up. If the Jews thought He meant that man could have spiritual life by bodily eating or drinking, they were greatly mistaken.

Our Lord says, “The flesh profiteth nothing.” By this He means that neither His flesh nor any other flesh, literally eaten, can do good to the soul. Spiritual benefit is not to be had through the mouth, but through the heart. The soul is not a material thing, and cannot therefore be nourished by material food.

Our Lord says, “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” By this He signifies that His words and teachings, applied to the heart by the Holy Ghost, are the true means of producing spiritual influence and conveying spiritual life. By words thoughts are begotten and aroused. By words mind and conscience are stirred. And Christ’s words especially are spirit-stirring and life-giving.

The principle contained in this verse, however faintly we may grasp its full meaning, deserves peculiar attention in these times. There is a tendency in many minds to attach an excessive importance to the outward and visible or “doing” part of religion. They seem to think that the sum and substance of Christianity consists in Baptism and the Supper of the Lord, in public ceremonies and forms, in appeals to the eye and ear and bodily excitement. Surely they forget that it is “the Spirit that quickeneth,” and that the “flesh profiteth nothing.” It is not so much by noisy public demonstrations, as by the still quiet work of the Holy Ghost on hearts that God’s cause prospers. It is Christ’s words entering into consciences, which “are spirit and life.”

We learn, lastly, from these verses, that Christ has a perfect knowledge of the hearts of men. We read that “He knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.”

Sentences like this are found so frequently in the Gospels that we are apt to underrate their importance. Yet there are few truths which we shall find it so good for our souls to remember as that which is contained in the sentence before us. The Savior with whom we have to do is one who knows all things!

What light this throws on the marvelous patience of the Lord Jesus in the days of His earthly ministry! He knew the sorrow and humiliation before Him, and the manner of His death. He knew the unbelief and treachery of some who professed to be His familiar friends. But “for the joy that was set before Him” he endured it all. (Hebrews 12:2.)

What light this throws on the folly of hypocrisy and false profession in religion! Let those who are guilty of it recollect that they cannot deceive Christ. He sees them, knows them, and will expose them at the last day, except they repent. Whatever we are as Christians, and however weak, let us be real, true, and sincere.

Finally, what light this throws on the daily pilgrimage of all true Christians! Let them take comfort in the thought that their Master knows them. However much unknown and misunderstood by the world, their Master knows their hearts, and will comfort them at the last day. Happy is he who, in spite of many infirmities, can say with Peter: “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” (John 21:17.)