John 6:61 “But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, ‘does this cause you to stumble?’”
Chapter six of the Gospel of John contains some odd directives, it would take the disciples years to understand these teachings. Be patient with yourself, and at the end of this post, go back and read the whole of John 6. But here in this one statement we learn that Jesus will confront our grumbling, after all–it is sin.
Jesus ends this teaching with the first written call to abide. He uses unpredictable metaphors, teaching spiritual principles that remain hidden to many in His audience. The disciples, clearly confused, grumble.
Love rebukes, exhorts, and teaches
Have you ever grumbled? And are you like the masses, wanting Jesus to let you grumble? As though grumbling were part of your healing or growing process, perhaps He should leave you alone, accept your “transparency” and hipster ways of being “true to yourself” (which often involves a great deal of selfishness and dishonesty).
True to form, Jesus confronts those grumblers. In love. He cannot let them stay confused, He will not let them stew in their muddled feelings. Let His words confront your attitude, your misgivings, your apprehensions, your logical fallacies, your fears… Let Him hold your hand and keep you from stumbling.
Jesus asks outright.
“Does this cause you to stumble?” And He wants a direct answer. If the answer is yes, it is not because Jesus taught improperly.
You do not stumble because He didn’t use an outline with alliteration. You do not stumble because Christianity is not a seven step program. Rather, “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not comprehend it.” We cannot find fault with the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ! (John 1, 2 Corinthians 4).
His words are spirit and life, let your heart muse upon them. Ask, as the Psalmist does, that He would “open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your Law!” (Psalm 119:18)
Could the answer to Jesus’ question be “no”? Could these grumblers say they had not stumbled? Could we look back on our own life, hearing Jesus’ teachings, and answer honestly that we’ve never stumbled over them, never wanted to ‘update’ them or bring them in line with culture? Have you learned to love His Word (2 Thessalonians 2:10)?
The Word Incarnate spoke, and it was good.
He is righteous in all His ways, and kind in all His deeds! Even here, when teaching that true disciples will abide, and will eat His flesh, feasting upon Him and finding true life indeed.
He wants disciples who will continue in His Word, rather than turn away (John 8:31-34). So go ahead, ponder the question. Answer the question. Seek out an older brother or sister in Christ–we are in this together.
Then ask yourself: Do I know what abiding entails? Do I comprehend the call Jesus gives to His disciples?
Peter answered the question boldly. Do you answer as Peter, that you will not go elsewhere looking for the Word of God? Do you answer as the Psalmists that declared a great desire to read and cling to the Word? Do you look away from the Word and beg for something different, or will you abide?
photo by Janko Ferlic on Unsplash.