38. The Descending Son

Short Meditations in John 6:  38. The Descending Son

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.   

We finished yesterday with the thought that none of us is worthy, and it is the words of the prodigal that come to mind, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” (Lk 15:19) We, as sinners, gave up our ‘right’ to be called children of God at the Fall, but Christ has come to change that and restore us to that role – children of God (see 1 Jn 3:1), and it is that activity of Christ, that is encapsulated in this verse.

In this verse Jesus is not specific about what the will of God is – simply that he has come to do it. At the Last Supper discourse Jesus said, “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” (Jn 15:10) Later he prayed to his Father, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” (Jn 17:4) Earlier he had taught, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.’” (Jn 10:17,18) Thus again and again we catch this sense of Jesus overriding desire to be seen to be doing his Father’s will. What he was doing was not just his bright idea, it was that which the Father had laid down before the foundation of the world and which the Son was now working through.

But there is something else here that appears nowhere else so clearly, something of immense significance: “I have come down from heaven.” Wow! There it is, the ultimate claim to divinity. Heaven was his home and he has left it to come to earth. It reveals his pre-existence, he existed in heaven long before he was born in the form of a human baby to a girl named Mary and a token father, Joseph.  Later in the chapter we find, “what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!” (Jn 6:62) The hints continue on. In a later argument he said, “‘before Abraham was born, I am!’ (Jn 8:58) There again the ‘I am’ formula that was often used by him that subtly alluded to his divinity, his standing with the Father and his eternal existence as God.

Again and again there is a sharpness, a clarity in John that is absent in the other earlier three Gospels, that culminated near the end with that absolute clarity of purpose in writing: “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (Jn 20:31) On every page of John there is something of this intensity that he had come to see as he remembered back to those wonderful days. Here in this verse we have one of the key gems, I believe, that show that purpose in such clarity.