Some folks try to point out that Jesus could not be God, because he has a different will than that of God and more or less submitted to God’s will rather than do as he (Jesus) really desired. Since God is not schizophrenic, and if Jesus does have a different will than the Father, how could he be God? One of the one-liner Scriptures used to promote this thinking is found in John 6:38, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” On the surface it seems to be saying that Jesus ultimately has a will opposed to that of the Father, but instead of doing what he wants to do, he submits to God. Is this what this Scripture is saying?
First of all, did you notice the “Duh!” value of this Scripture? Jesus says he came down from heaven. If he came down from heaven, he could not be arguing that he is only a man, because earlier Jesus told Nicodemus that no man has ever ascended into heaven (John 3:36), so how could a man have descended from heaven to earth? So, we are left with the question, if Jesus is not a mere man, who is he? He cannot be a mere angel, because Hebrews denies that God ever called an angel his Son (Hebrews 1:5), so if Jesus is neither a mere man nor an angel made man, who is he?
Remember, we are not trying to build a doctrine of Christology out of one-liners. If John 6:38 truly refers to Jesus being a mere man chosen by God to do a job, then we must be able to find supporting Scripture that would not only explain how Jesus came to earth from heaven and still be man, but also show how all this means he cannot be God, as both he and the author of the Gospel of John seem to show elsewhere. Therefore, what can we find out about the context of Jesus’ saying: “I have not come… to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me?” Does Jesus have a separate will from that of the Father?
The sixth chapter of John occurs about the time of Jesus’ second Passover in his public ministry. It occurs just after the death of John the Baptist. Huge crowds began following him partially due to the miracles he has done (John 6:2) and partially because John’s disciples were now looking to Jesus to take up the mantle of John’s ministry. This can be seen by comparing a few Scriptures. After Herod killed John the Baptist, John’s disciples took his body, buried it and then told Jesus (Matthew 14:12). Upon hearing of John’s death, Jesus went into a boat and departed to a desert place to be alone (Matthew 14:13). Many people followed him, which resulted in the feeding of the 5000 (Matthew 14:14-21). The feeding of the 5000 is one of the few events that is recorded in all four Gospel narratives, so the events of John 6 occur just after John’s death and around the time of Jesus’ second Passover.
Just after Jesus fed the 5000 with a few loaves and fishes, the people wanted to declare him King, believing Jesus to be the Messiah (John 6:14-15). Jesus escaped to the mountain while the apostles dismissed the crowd and left by boat. Later in the evening Jesus came to them walking on the water. What has just happened? Jesus has just displayed his authority over the elements of this world. He was able to cause just a little food to be not only enough for a great number of people, but the leftovers ended up to be more than what the young lad had in the first place. Next, Jesus showed he has authority over the sea by walking upon the waters to where the apostles struggled in the boat. Not only so, but as soon as Jesus entered the boat, it was immediately on the shore where they wanted to go (John 6:21). What kind of man is able to do this, and what is the text telling us?
I believe Jesus is showing us that he is the second and last Adam (cp. 1Corinthians 15:45-47). As the second Adam, Jesus is the ruler of the new creation. What can we conclude from the Scriptures concerning the first Adam? Didn’t he rebel? He was supposed to rule over all that God created. He was a very powerful being, but he would not be ruled by God. God’s rulership was to be through man. In other words, God ruled in man’s heart, and man ruled every place else. God’s will was performed by man, but when man rebelled, God’s rulership through man ended. How could this be corrected?
This present world’s system is the result of man’s rebellion. It is not the result of God’s authority. When Jesus came down from heaven, it was for the express purpose of setting up the Kingdom of God once more, where God’s authority would be the norm. Jesus told the people in John 6 that although Adam had upset the applecart by rebelling against God, Jesus would not do likewise. This does not mean that Jesus had a different will than that of the Father. The fact is, the One who became Jesus has always exercised the will of the Father. That is the will of Jesus—to do the will of God. God is not schizophrenic; he has only one desire, but that desire is expressed in three phases: initiation, production and manifestation. The Father desires to save the world, and Jesus came down from heaven to perform the desire of the Father, and the Holy Spirit manifests that desire by drawing mankind into a trusting relationship with Jesus and into the Kingdom of God. This is the single will of God wholly expressed.