Yeshua compared Himself to the heavenly manna, and He said, “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). John 6 repeats the thought of Yeshua’s descent from heaven seven times. In what sense did our Master descend like manna?
Just as the manna descended from heaven, so too Yeshua’s essential person (Logos) had descended from the Father. Just as the manna gave life to the Israelites in the wilderness, so, too, our Master Yeshua gave eternal and abundant life to those who came to Him.
According to Moses, the manna symbolized the words of the God:
He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 8:3).
Rabbinic interpretations followed the same path and interpreted manna as a symbol for Torah:
The Holy One, blessed be he, said, “I will lead them about in the desert for forty years that they may eat manna and drink the water of the well and (thereby) the Torah will be united with their body.” (Mechilta)
In these interpretations, the manna represented God’s expression and revelation, i.e., God’s Word. As the Living Word made flesh, the Master presented Himself as living manna. Just as Torah descended from God, so, too, the Logos that inhabits the Son descended from the Father.
The Torah describes God’s intervention in the natural world as a divine descent. For example, at the tower of Babel, the LORD “came down to see the city and the tower,” and at Sodom and Gomorrah the LORD declared, “I will go down now, and see …” Both divine descents bring a divine intervention in the form of judgment. At the burning bush, the LORD told Moses, “I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians” (Exodus 3:8). At Sinai, the LORD descended to deliver the Torah, and in the poetry of the Psalms and prophetic oracles, the LORD often descends to fight Israel’s enemies, to rescue the nation, or, (far too often), to bring judgment upon the nation.
Simply put, when God wants to intervene in the world to bring judgment, redemption, revelation, or salvation, His divine Word “descends” to earth, so to speak. In this cryptic language, Yeshua hinted that He is God’s intervention in the world, a manifestation of the descent of God’s Word—God on earth, and the Torah made flesh.