For I Came Down From Heaven (John 6:38)
This passage actually covers several verses; “I came down from heaven” (John 6:38) and “I am from above” (John 8:23), both are understood to be figurative speaking.
(John 6:33, 38) “The bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world…I came down from heaven.”
(John 8:23) “And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.”
In order to correctly ascertain the context of these isolated verses, which historically we have used as “proof” that Jesus is God, we must first review all of the passages of John chapters 6 & 8 as a whole.
In John 6, Jesus explained how the manna was a type of himself (figuratively). Jesus told his disciples that his flesh was the bread of life come down from heaven and if “eaten” they would never die (John 6:35-58) [of course they did die (physically) because they were all human]. 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 understood similarly; Christ (The Son of God) was created on earth, by God (his Holy Spirit) acting upon the womb of Mary (Luke 1:35). God is the source through which Jesus “came from heaven.” (Ref: Misinterpreted Scriptures, John 6:38 “came down from heaven”)
Jesus said that the bread he gave his disciples at the Lord’s Supper was his body and the drink was his blood (Matthew 26:26-28). Yet, this was not literally true.
Note: Jesus associates the bread from Heaven with himself as the “Son of man” (John 6:62), not as God.
(John 6:62-63) “What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.”
We know this passage is not literally true, for no Son of man (a human having living flesh and blood) physically existed in heaven prior to “appearing” on earth (1 Corinthians 15:50).
Jesus was “God’s only begotten Son“ who was made of a woman (Galatians 4:4). God made Jesus and God declared Jesus would be to him his Son (Hebrews 1:5) and it is in that sense Jesus was from above. That which was in Christ did come down from heaven; not only his human spirit (Numbers 16:22; Ecclesiastes 12:7; See also: What Is A Genuine Human?) but that which also tabernacled in the flesh of the man (Jesus), the Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 5:19) for “God was in Christ“.
This should not be interpreted as saying “ALL of God” was confined “literally” in the human body of Jesus, that would of course contradict another non-biblical teaching that God is literally omnipresent (Everywhere) in his existence (See: Incarnation vs. Omnipresence).
God (through his Holy Spirit) provided the means necessary whereby someone of the human race (Jesus) could conquer sin (Psalms 80:17; Romans 1:3-4). Having done so, God raised Jesus up from the dead (Acts 4:10) changed his nature from a mortal body of flesh to a body of immortality by giving Jesus a “quickening” (means make alive) spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Peter 3:18). The quickening of Jesus came from above, just as it will for all Christians (Romans 8:11; Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:12-13). Jesus ascended a man given immortality/everlasting life (Revelation 1:18) a man who would be the first fruits of them that slept (1 Corinthians 15:20), the Son of God and of the seed of David (Romans 1:3-4).
There is an abundance of evidence in the book of John that Jesus was never proclaiming to be God literally. “The living Father hath sent me” (John 6:57) and the fact that Jesus said “I live by the Father” (John 6:57) is evidence that he was not proclaiming to be God Almighty himself.
Jesus use of the words “from heaven” or “from above” is understood to be a claim to heavenly authority (or from God):
Remember Jesus parentage was not just “from earth”, but on his Father’s side “from heaven”.
Jesus taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes (Matthew 7:29) but directly from his Father (John 8:26-29)
(John 8:26-29) “ I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him. 27They understood not that he spake to them of the Father. 28Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. 29And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.”
In (Luke 20:1-8) we find Christ using the same figure of speech. Here the chief priests, scribes came with the elders and asked Christ what authority he had to do these things?
(Luke 20:4) “The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?”
Jesus responded and asserts his authority by asking whether the baptism of John was “from heaven”- exactly the same expression he uses of himself. He was not asking if John’s baptism was performed in heaven prior to taking place on earth. He was asking whether the origin of John’s authority and commission to baptize had its source from God.