What God Wants (And what He doesn’t want)

Gathering_of_the_Manna c 1460-1470 via Wiki-Public Domain

The Gathering of the Manna c. 1460

Read John 6:28-43.

Last post from the book of John we saw how Jesus called out the crowd. He told them the reason they went to the trouble to find him was because he fed them, when he multiplied the loaves and the fish. Then he instructed them to work “for food that endures to eternal life,.which the Son of Man will give you.”

This prompted the people to ask, “What is it we should do, to do the works of God?”

Jesus responded, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he sent.” (If you’re interested you can read the last post here: Is Believing In Jesus All That’s Required? (Because after all, Jesus gave us commands)–John 6:22-40

The Cynical Seeking A Sign

After Jesus says the work of God is to “believe in him whom he sent,” the crowd is cynical toward Jesus. And they say: “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'”

It bothers me that they use the word “perform” here. It just seems so disrespectful toward the Son of God, to ask him to perform. The day before, Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish to feed them, and it seems as though they’re angling for Jesus to feed them again. But Jesus doesn’t “perform” for them as they requested. Instead of food for the flesh he gives them food for their spirit, he gives them truth. He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

Then the people say, “Sir, always give us this bread.”

The Bread Of God Defined

Then Jesus tells them that the bread isn’t a what, it’s a who. He says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

What God Wants

Jesus continues, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

So this is what God wants then, he wants “that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life…” (Chalk another one up for the “just believe” category from our last post on the book of John.)

Grumbling About The Bread Of God

Then the people grumble about him, because they were offended when he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it that he says he came down from heaven?”

They grumbled. That’s kind of amazing if you think about it because, just a few moments before, they brought up the subject of the manna from heaven, the bread of God sent down in Moses’ time. After they received the manna, the bread of God sent from heaven, they grew tired of it, and they grumbled about it to God. (see Numbers Chapter 11)

Now Jesus says, he is the bread of God who comes down from heaven–and they grumble about that!

It’s human nature to complain and grumble, even when we don’t have all the relevant information concerning whatever it is we’re grumbling about. That was the case here. They didn’t have their facts straight. They were correct about his mother but of course Jesus wasn’t Joseph’s son, he was the Son of God.

Missing The Prophetic Picture

Their complaining and cynicism dominate them, meanwhile they miss something profound. As Jesus said more than once, the Old Testament scriptures testify of him. The life giving manna, the bread of God from heaven in Moses’ time was a prophetic picture of the bread of God who comes down from heaven, that is Jesus. But they missed it.

What God Doesn’t Want

Jesus responded to their grumbling. “Don’t grumble among yourselves,” he said. During the season of the manna in Moses’ time, it didn’t please God when the Israelites grumbled and complained. And it didn’t please God when they grumbled against Jesus, the bread of God sent from heaven.

And it doesn’t please God when we grumble today. We like to complain. Neurologists tell us that negative thoughts are sticky, and positive thoughts are slippery. We like to cling to the negative. That’s why the news is the way it is. It’s dominated by the negative because problems, tragedy, conflict, and controversy are what attract the eyes and ears of the public. And the more eyes and ears attracted, the more advertising dollars collected. A desire to grumble and complain is a part of the human condition.

It feels good to complain, it’s even natural, but it doesn’t please God.

Scripture says it plainly.

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” Philippians 2:14


In case you’re interested, here are four suggestions to help you, and me, to stop complaining:

  1. Hang with people who live in an attitude of gratitude toward Christ. Avoid complainers.
  2. Resolve yourself to replace complaining with action to improve whatever it is you have the urge to complain about. And if you can’t take action, don’t complain anyway.
  3. After you complain, say the word “but” and then finish your sentence with something positive. “Traffic was horrible, but, at least God blessed me with a job to drive to.”
  4. Stop saying, “have to” and replace it with “get to.” Early last Mother’s Day I mentioned to a friend that I “had to” go pick up flowers. His wife was present and she corrected me. “You ‘get to’ go pick up flowers Kurt. You ‘get to’.”

These four suggestions are my own version of recommendations from Jon Gordon, The No Complaining Rule, Wiley, 2008 and Trevor Blake, Three Simple Steps, BenBella Books, 2012.

Image via Wikipedia, The Gathering of the Manna c. 1460-1470–Public Domain

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