SON OF GOD MEDITATIONS 12 of 20
Jn 6:38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
I commented in one of the recent studies that my friend who made the statement, The truth is that Jesus was not God; he never proclaimed as such, there are no direct quotes from him in this regards, seems like he will only be happy with Jesus saying, “I am the Son of God” and nothing less will suit him. What it shows is that he has never read the Gospels with an open mind. Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel produces a wealth of challenges to this mentality. Our verse today is blatant in its claim: I have come down from heaven. There really is no alternative to the straight forward claim that Jesus is saying he has come from heaven itself. Heaven is where he originated.
Now perhaps we should deal with one or two of the more obvious silly excuses that might be made at this point. Oh help, says our sceptic, perhaps he was just an angel. Well there are various answers that come to mind to that. Angel appearances in the rest of the Bible are remarkably brief. Angels are heaven’s messengers and so they come and bring the message and then go. Jesus came and lived as part of a family for thirty three years. The writer to the Hebrews in chapter 1 of his book dealt with this silly supposition. He wasn’t an angel! Oh, says our desperate sceptic, perhaps he was some other lesser being, a human from past history who God allowed to come back. Well, taking the Biblical record as a whole that sort of thing didn’t happen. There are only two Biblical records of that ever happening, one in the Old and one in the New Testament, and I’ll leave you to find them for yourself! But both appearances were again remarkably brief. The people appeared for a specific purpose and then went quickly. It was merely a matter of minutes.
There are also two bigger problems with Jesus being anything less than God himself. Number one is that if he was a mere human being then his teaching would be vulnerable to error and when you examine the teaching of Jesus it is remarkable for its clarity and its absence of anything that can be seen to be error. The second problem is the crucial one that we have considered briefly before, that a mere man could not die to take the sin and guilt of the whole world, of every person who would ever turn to God in repentance and seek salvation. There is a sense that if that is what happened, and the Bible says it is, then no one less than God Himself is ‘big enough’ to carry our punishment.
So here we find this blatant claim from Jesus that he has come from heaven. There is one more option that our friendly sceptic may come up with. When he says he has come from heaven, doesn’t it just mean that God by His Spirit enabled Mary to conceive and so it is a case really of it being that he was more ‘heaven enabled’? Heaven enabled this child to be conceived and born. Well that might have been a possible interpretation if it wasn’t for that simple word, ‘down’. When Jesus says, “I have come down from heaven” that doesn’t allow us to accept that possibility. Coming down is the language of transference from one place to another.
Then we have to cope with the other references to this same thing in this chapter. The chapter need to be read in the context of the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand that has just happened. The people who had been there followed Jesus and he chided them: “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” (Jn 6:26). In other words he was saying they purely wanted their physical needs to be met by him. They cited God providing manna for their ancestors, a miraculous food provision while they were travelling through the desert. As the conversation continues Jesus eventually says, referring to himself, “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (v.33) Be under no illusion, he IS referring to himself: “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry.” (v.34,35).
To clarify it even more, after our verse today, we find, “At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, `I came down from heaven’?” (v.41,42). Oh yes, the Jews were quite clear in their understanding. He has come down from heaven? How can that be?
Again, a few verses later we find Jesus reiterating, “But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” (v.50,51) and again, “This is the bread that came down from heaven.” (v.58). Thus we have it that a number of times here we find Jesus recorded as saying in this crucial conversation that his origins were in heaven, for that is where he came from. The writer to the Hebrews, who we referred to earlier, before he gets down to refuting the suggestion that Jesus was an angel, said, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.” (Heb 1:3). That was the understanding of the early church who had witnessed Jesus, seen and heard all he did. Indeed, in the light of the New Testament testimony, it is surprising that anyone can come to any other conclusion, but that is why we spent such time with the early meditations in this series, dealing with our strange thought processes that will do anything except believe what is obvious!