Many people seem to think that Jesus had the total mind of God while on earth. But is this true? Should we think that when Jesus was placed in the manger he looked around and thought, ‘Well here I am; the plan has begun!’ No, Jesus was a baby and he thought like a baby. He was really no different from any other baby. He cried, he wet his pants, and he wanted his mother.
There is an old story about Jesus playing with other children. They were molding birds out of clay but Jesus’ clay bird flew away. I am sure nothing like that ever happened. Jesus was a normal, human child; he grew and he learned like any other child, as stated in Luke 2:
Jesus grew in wisdom and stature.
Jesus lived among us as a human, and humans are not omniscient.
Jesus Was Not Omniscient
If Jesus was omniscient, why did he not share technical and scientific information with his listeners? There were times when sharing more accurate information could have been very useful. Here is a case in point.
Last time, we said that when Jesus cast out demons he was really healing physical and mental disorders not involving demons at all. To correct the people’s views about demons, why did Jesus not just tell them ‘This boy has epilepsy’ or ‘This man has multiple personality disorder.’ Instead, Jesus went through the motions of casting out demons. One might say that sharing such advanced information was not Jesus’ mission, but another explanation is that Jesus, himself, didn’t know. He was not omniscient; to a great extent he was a person of his time and culture like everyone else.
Even if we believe Jesus was pre-existent with God in eternity and was therefore omniscient, we need not think he carried over his divine knowledge into his human existence. Philippians 2 refers to an early hymn about Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
This hymn reflects the understanding that Jesus was human while he was among us. The ‘making himself nothing’ is called kenosis—Jesus ’emptied’ himself of any divine attributes and was human.
But What about Jesus’ Prophecies and Knowledge of the End-Times?
Wouldn’t Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem temple imply omniscience? Perhaps it would if it were a prophecy but, as we discussed before, Jesus had great insight that did not require omniscience; he could foresee what would happen to the temple if the Jews continued their efforts to drive out the Romans.
And what many people understand to be descriptions of the end-times were, instead, apocalyptic illustrations drawn from well-known stories circulating at the time.
Now this is not to say that Jesus, in his humanity, was nothing more than human. Jesus on earth had one very special quality that no other person ever had—a special connection to God. Jesus was God’s anointed one in a way that was much different from any anointed king or prophet. Jesus was God’s special emissary on earth for all time with God’s message to all people. Jesus was very aware of his special connection with God, but this did not make him omniscient. Jesus was human.
The Importance to Us of Jesus’ Humanity
As a human, Jesus was one of us! Can you relate to that? Jesus understood about being human. He experienced hunger (have you eve noticed how often Jesus ate or talked about eating?). Jesus was human and he was hungry. He was one of us!
Jesus experienced exhaustion and sometimes had to withdraw from the crowds and rest. Jesus experienced disappointment; in John 6, after many who followed him turned away, Jesus asked the twelve, ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus experienced sorrow to the point of weeping over the death of his friend Lazarus.
Even during his painful trial and execution, Jesus experienced it as a human—just as any of us would have—with no extra buffers. Jesus experienced distress in Gethsemane, pain on the cross, and abandonment by God as he was dying. Jesus had no advantage on the cross over any others being crucified that day except for his steadfast determination to fulfill God’s mission.
How Do We Relate to Jesus Now?
Some people talk of God coming down and dying on the cross, and what they have in mind is God the father. This is a confused misunderstanding; Jesus was NOT the father, and he died as a human. What would be the significance to us of God coming down to walk among us with all of his divine attributes and being crucified with those same divine attributes. It would not be genuine. We could not relate to that.
But we can relate to Jesus because he was born human, dwelt among us as human, and died human. Of course the resurrection really changed things, but while he walked among us Jesus was human as we are except for his special connection with God.
Why is Jesus’ humanity important to us? Because Jesus identifies with us; and we can identify with him in a way that we could never identify with a god walking among us. Jesus is one of us! He understands us experientially. And we can follow him because he was one of us. But Jesus is now resurrected and lives again so that one day we can be resurrected and live again—like him. And then we can identify with Jesus in a new way.
- Be sure to follow this blog in the right-hand column of this page.
- Like Jesus without Baggage Page on Facebook.
- Follow @JesusWOB on Twitter
- If you know someone who might find Jesus without Baggage helpful, feel free to send them the introductory page: About Jesus without Baggage.