“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only." (Matthew 24:36)
I might have mentioned this previously, but we are currently doing an apologetics course at church. We're watching a lecture series by R C Sproul, who uses the classicist approach to apologetics - proving the existence of God through reason and logic. It's been a really enjoyable series and has really caused me to think about things I've never really considered before.
Last week's lesson had to do with Jesus and his divine/human nature, a topic I've never really thought about. Previously I had simply recited "Jesus was both fully man and fully God while on earth." And don't get me wrong, I still believe this. I just guess I'd never thought much more about it than that.
Well, R C Sproul brought up the verse I have written above. You see, often when we read the gospel accounts about Jesus and He seems to have supernatural knowledge, we automatically think: "oh, He must be tapping into His omniscient (all-knowing) divine nature, and that's how He knows that." One example is the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, and there are many others.
However, that doesn't explain the verse above. You see, if Jesus was fully omniscient while on earth, why did He say that He didn't know the time of His return? If He was omniscient then He would know that. So what's going on here? Is Jesus lying or just pretending He doesn't know? No, that can't be, because we know Jesus can't sin. So it must mean that Jesus wasn't omniscient in His human nature while He was on earth.
What about the times when Jesus does seem to know things outside the realm of human knowledge? Well, the prophets of the Old Testament also often knew things beyond their capacity. How? Because God chose to reveal things to them through the power of the Holy Spirit. Likewise, Jesus also used his prophetic office to speak for God. Here we see the Holy Trinity working in perfect unity.
This is why Jesus was able to say in John 12:49:
"For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak."
I had another thought answered the other night, which I have been mulling over for some time: Did Jesus use His divine nature to stop Himself from sinning? If this is the case, then Hebrews 4:15 becomes a little redundant:
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin."
One of the elder brothers at the church explained to me the reason Jesus didn't sin is that unlike us, He was not born with a sinful nature. All people since Adam have inherited Adam's sinful nature, as it says in Romans 5:12:
"Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—"
This is why Jesus had to be born of a virgin: so He wouldn't inherit this sinful nature, and so He could be like Adam before the Fall. Like Adam, Jesus was presented with temptation, but unlike Adam He chose to obey God. Now we have to balance this by remembering that Jesus was not only a man but also God, and God cannot sin. However, Jesus was not merely a manifestation of God on earth but a real human in the flesh, and as such He attained a perfect, holy life by conscious obedience to God's laws.
This makes 1 Corinthians 15:45 so much more powerful and also understandable.
Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
I can't believe I never really understood this before. It also makes the work that Jesus did on earth so much more glorious - not only dying for us on the cross, but also living a sinless life. Each day that He lived, He actively chose to do God's work as a man, because He knew He had to be the last Adam to save you and me.
What an amazing God!