1-10 “I came down from Heaven” (Jn. 6:33,38)
“The bread of God is he which comes down from heaven, and
gives life unto the world...I came down from heaven” (Jn. 6:33,38).
These words, and others like them, are misused to support the wrong
idea that Jesus existed in Heaven before his birth. The following
points, however, must be noted.
1. Trinitarians take these words as literal in order to prove their
point. However, if we are to take them literally, then this means
that somehow Jesus literally came down as a person. Not only is
the Bible totally silent about this, but the language of Jesus being
conceived as a baby in Mary’s womb is made meaningless. Jn.6:60
describes the teaching about the manna as a saying “hard to
take in” (Moffatt’s Translation); i.e. we need to understand
that it is figurative language being used.
2. In Jn. 6, Jesus is explaining how the manna was a type of himself.
The manna was sent from God in the sense that it was God who was
responsible for creating it on the earth; it did not physically
float down from the throne of God in Heaven. Thus Christ’s
coming from Heaven is to be understood likewise; he was created
on earth, by the Holy Spirit acting upon the womb of Mary (Lk.1:35).
3. Jesus says that “the bread that I will give is my flesh”
(Jn.6:51). Trinitarians claim that it was the ‘God’
part of Jesus which came down from Heaven. But Jesus says that it
was his “flesh” which was the bread which came down
from Heaven. Likewise Jesus associates the bread from Heaven with
himself as the “Son of man” (Jn. 6:62), not ‘God
4. In this same passage in Jn. 6 there is abundant evidence that
Jesus was not equal to God. “The living Father has sent me”
(Jn. 6:57) shows that Jesus and God do not share co-equality; and
the fact that “I live by the Father” (Jn. 6:57) is hardly
the ‘co-eternity’ of which Trinitarians speak.
5. It must be asked, When and how did Jesus ‘come down’
from Heaven? Trinitarians use these verses in Jn. 6 to ‘prove’
that Jesus came down from Heaven at his birth. But Jesus speaks
of himself as “he which cometh down from heaven” (v.33,50),
as if it is an ongoing process. Speaking of God’s gift of
Jesus, Christ said “My Father is giving you the bread”
from Heaven (v.32 Weymouth). At the time Jesus was speaking these
words, he had already ‘come down’ in a certain sense,
in that he had been sent by God. Because of this, he could also
speak in the past tense: “I am the living bread which came
down from Heaven” (v.51). But he also speaks about ‘coming
down’ as the bread from Heaven in the form of his death on
the cross: “The bread that I will give is my flesh, which
I will give for the life of the world” (v.51). So we have
Jesus speaking here of having already come down from Heaven, being
in the process of ‘coming down’, and still having to
‘come down’ in his death on the cross. This fact alone
should prove that ‘coming down’ refers to God manifesting
Himself, rather than only referring to Christ’s birth. This
is conclusively proved by all the Old Testament references to God
‘coming down’ having just this same meaning. Thus God
saw the affliction of His people in Egypt, and ‘came down’
to save them through Moses. He has seen our bondage to sin, and
has ‘come down’ or manifested Himself, by sending Jesus
as the equivalent to Moses to lead us out of bondage.
The Lord Jesus was "the beginning of God's creation"
(Rev. 3:15)- He was a created being and as such in whatever form
He 'came down from Heaven', He was still not God Himself. Hugh Schonfield
comments: "Clearly John himself believed that the heavenly
Christ was a created being, as did the early Christians" (1).
A Devotional Appeal
The Lord's language of coming down from Heaven can be understood
from a very powerful devotional aspect. He reasons that because
He had come down from Heaven, therefore, whoever comes
to Him, He would never reject (Jn. 6:37,38). The connection
is in the word "come". We 'come' to Jesus not by physically
travelling towards Him, but in our mental attitudes. He likewise
'comes' to us, not by moving trillions of kilometers from Heaven
to earth, but in His 'coming' down into our lives and experiences.
If He has come so very far to meet us, and we come to Him... then
surely we will meet and He will not turn away from us, exactly because
He has 'come' so far to meet us. This theme continues throughout
John's Gospel. "What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend
up where he was before?" (Jn. 6:62) is therefore not a reference
to Him physically travelling off anywhere- He is saying that if
people would not 'come' to Him in meeting, then He would withdraw
the opportunity from them. He wouldn't stand waiting for them indefinitely.
This explains the urgency behind His appeals to 'come' to Him. He
had 'come down', and was waiting for people to 'come' to Him. He's
come a huge distance, from the heavenly heights of His own spirituality,
to meet with whores and gamblers, hobby level religionists, self-absorbed
little people... and if we truly come to Him, if we want to meet
with Him, then of course He will never turn us away. For it was
to meet with us that He 'came down'. This approach shows the fallacy
of interpreting His 'coming down' to us and our 'coming' to Him
in a literal sense.
(1) Hugh Schonfield, The Original New Testament: Revelation
(London: Firethorn Press, 1985) footnote on Rev. 3:15.