Jesus makes a startling statement to “many of his disciples” in John 6: “But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?” (John 6:61–62, ESV)
Christ has just offended many of his disciples by pointing out that unless they eat his body and drink his blood, they have no life in them (v.53). This is not a statement designed to keep one’s squeamish followers around and predictably, many of those who have followed him up to this point in his Galilean ministry discover that this is a hard saying, who can listen to it?
At this point in the conversation, you or I would have said, “listen guys, let me explain. It will all make sense in a minute, just bear with me.” Jesus? Nah. He’s going to double down on the hard sayings: Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
This raises the question, where exactly was Christ “before?” Christ himself is remarkably consistent on this question. He has told us previously in John where he was “before:”
- “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” (John 3:13, ESV)
He will tell us after this where he was “before,” and that he is going back:
- “I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”” (John 16:28, ESV)
He even tells us when he was there:
- “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (John 17:5, ESV)
One cannot argue at this point, where Jesus believed he was before he was born to the Virgin Mary. He is quite clear about it. The only question is whether one believes it or not, and that, dear reader, is a question that you will have to answer for yourself.
Me? I believe Jesus.