5. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Came Down from Heaven

Some say the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are silent about this claim. But they are not, if you know where to look.

Here is the Table on the States of Christ:

For a quick explanation of the entire image, please click here:

1. Do I Really Know Jesus? His Entire Existence in One Image

We are discussing the left side of the sweeping arrow.

Some have observed with a skeptical air that John has a high Christology (teaching about Christ), but the synoptic Gospels do not have such a high view and are therefore more realistic and accurate. Let’s see, however, where John and the Synoptics parallel each other, but in different expressions and subtleties.

If you would like to see the following verses in many translations or in their contexts, please go to biblegateway.com.

John goes first.

John 1 proclaims the preincarnate Jesus, even as God himself. Then it proclaims his incarnation—or birth. “The Word [Jesus] became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). Then the Gospel is very explicit about his divine origins. Two examples among many: “I have come down from heaven” (John 6:38). Jesus has “come from God” (John 13:3).

The Synoptics say the same thing, but in quieter ways.

First, Jesus was conceived by the Spirit: Matt. 1:18, Matt. 1:20, Luke 1:35. The Father sent the Spirit to conceive his Son. So his origins were divine.

Second, his birth was prophesied in Is. 9:6-7, and he is called “mighty God.” Matt. 1:22-23 incorporates this exalted divine status. “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet. ‘The Virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him “Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).’” Jesus is God with us.

Luke also prophesies the birth and purpose of John the Baptist: “He will go on before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17, emphasis added). This is a reference to the prophecy in Mal. 4:5. There the Lord is Yahweh (YHWH), usually translated in all capital letters, and thus identifying Jesus with the LORD.

Third, Jesus is called the Son of Man about 81 times in the Synoptics. This title refers to his human side, but also to his divinity. Dan. 7:13-14 uses the title about a divine figure from God who is entrusted with authority, glory, and sovereignty, and at the same time it is used as the Representative Man, the Perfect Man.

Fourth, the phrase “Kingdom of God” means God through Christ is visiting humanity. God sent Christ in a special and unique way.

With those four points as background, the verses in the Synoptics about Jesus coming with a mission parallel those of John, though the Synoptics are subtler.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them (Matt. 5:17).

But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matt. 9:13; cf. Hosea 6:6))

Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me (Matt. 10:40).

“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me” (Mark 9:37).

 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” (Luke 7:16)

But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you (Luke 11:20).

“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49).

When the Kingdom of God has come through Jesus, we are talking about the divine presence here on earth—the Father is here through Christ.

Fifth, Jesus will come back from heaven in great glory and power, implying that he left heaven in humility: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne” (Matt. 25:31; cf. 24:27, 30-31).

While John is bolder about Christ’s heavenly origins, the Synoptic Gospels are louder about his second coming.

Objections and Replies

Objection: However, Jesus never explicitly utters the words in the Synoptics that he came down from heaven and was sent by his Father.

Reply: It’s the difference between show and tell. John tells us; the Synoptics shows us. The Synoptics proclaim his heavenly origins, but more subtly and quietly, by showing us and using a significant title, Son of Man and the LORD.

Objection: God sent prophets, but that does not mean they came from heaven as divine figures.

Reply: First, other passages in the Synoptics indicate deity, like Matt. 17:1-8 on the Mount of Transfiguration; Matt. 18:19-20 and his being in his disciples’ midst when they gather together; and Matt. 28:16-20, when he says all authority in heaven and earth is given to him.

Second, the prophets did not have a virgin birth, but he did.

Third, they did not promise they would come back in a powerful way for the whole world to see, while he did (Matt. 24:44).

Fourth, they were not resurrected, but he was (Matt. 28:1-10).

Fifth, they did not claim they were the fulfillment of prophecies, but he did claim this (Luke 24:44-46).

Sixth and finally, Old Testament prophets were not taken up into heaven in the people’s sight after their resurrections, and after promising to send the Spirit to empower their disciples to preach repentance to the whole world in their names (Elijah never promised those things and was not taken before a public), but all those things apply to Jesus (Luke 24:46-53).

So there are huge Scriptural differences between the purposes of their being sent and his being sent.

So how do I get to know Jesus more deeply?

Peter confirms the Messiah’s mission, saying that God appointed him and sent him (Acts 3:20).

We can get to know him better by understanding the synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John peels back the layers, pulls back the veil, and takes off the mask to reveal clearly Christ’s deity. It is as if he is telling us, “After so many decades since his resurrection and ascension, it is time I wrote the fullest Gospel, in order to roll back the stone that kept him partially hidden. I was an eyewitness from the beginning, and here is the fuller truth about Jesus.”

The Synoptics, written earlier, also teach, though more subtly and quietly, that Jesus came from heaven and was sent by the Father, when they are read in their larger contexts.

So there is harmony between four Gospels about his coming from heaven and being sent by the Father.

Written by James Malcolm

ARTICLES IN “DO I REALLY KNOW JESUS?” SERIES

1. Do I Really Know Jesus? His Entire Existence in One Image

2. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Was the Preincarnate God

3. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Was God Incarnate

4. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Took the Form of a Servant

5. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Came Down from Heaven

6. Do I Really Know Jesus? Why Did He Become a Man?

7. Do I Really Know Jesus? Thirty Truths about His Life

8. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Was Sinless

9. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Died for You

10. Do I Really Know Jesus? Did He Descend into Hades to Preach?

11. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Was Resurrected from the Dead

12. Do I Really Know Jesus? What Was His Resurrected Body Like?

13. Do I Really Know Jesus? His Resurrection Changes Everything

14. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Appeared to His Disciples

15. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Ascended into Heaven

16. Do I Really Know Jesus? His Ascension Means Everything

17. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Is Seated at Right Hand of Father

SOURCES

Works Cited at Renewal Theology

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