Dear friends,

A month or two ago a minister friend of mine offered to tell me the real, behind-the-scenes story about what happened in his church. This was a church that had stirred up some controversy locally by letting go a long-time staff member. So my friend, who knew the story first-hand, offered to tell me. I thanked him, but I declined. I said that I did not need to know what happened.

I tell you this because it helps to illustrate an important Biblical truth that often puzzles Christians and non-Christians alike. The question is often put like this: “How can Jesus be fully God and still ask questions? If He is God, doesn’t He know all things? But doesn’t the incarnation mean that Jesus did not know all things? Didn’t He have to learn how to speak after He was born? So, is He God or not?”

The outline of an answer can be seen in the story I told at the beginning. In my story, I could have easily known what happened, the knowledge was readily at hand, but I chose not to know. So it is with Jesus. As God, Jesus chose not to know, but only to know what the father revealed to Him.

This can be seen most simply in several texts in John’s Gospel. In John 5: 18-20, Jesus says he “can do nothing on His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing.” In John 8:28, Jesus says, “…that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the father taught me.” One more, in John 12:49, Jesus is recorded as saying, “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.”

The Bible teaches that God the Son of God did not cease to be God when He took on flesh, becoming incarnate in the womb of Mary and being born in Bethlehem. God the Son of God took into Himself our human nature. He “emptied” Himself of His glory and appearance as God and lived a human life in perfect dependence and obedience to God the Father.

So Jesus did have to learn and ask questions. He was human. But sometimes the Father would reveal to Jesus what Jesus could not know by mere human means. He knew the life history of the woman by the well, even though He did not know if she would give Him water when He asked for a drink because He was thirsty. I do not become less human by declining to know a secret. Jesus did not stop being God because He waited until He learned by “natural” means, or until His Father revealed the truth.

George +