Did you ever wonder? I sure did. I thought about it a lot. HOW did Christ learn He was God?
I was always told “He just knew”. He “remembered His past Godhood”. And that was rather awe-inspiring and impressive, so I accepted it for a while. But then I got to looking at it. And I started to realize that … it didn’t happen that way at all. Jesus did not remember His past Godhood.
He didn’t magically “know” He was God. He wasn’t told by an angel, nor did His having “the holy spirit without measure” connect him to some supernatural internet to allow Him to download all the knowledge of the universe at will. He learned the same way any other person would have had to learn – the Bible.
I thoroughly explained in my article “Why Did Jesus Become A Man” that Jesus became a man to prove that a human, physical man could obey God perfectly, on an even footing without the slightest advantage. I showed that the slightest leg-up on us would have ruined the proof. That Jesus could not have felt, known or seen anything that we cannot also feel, know or see or He would have failed to prove His point.
And so, to continue the thread of that understanding, if Jesus had automatically known from birth, or at least early childhood, that He was God, it would have totally ruined His point. It would rob Him of much-deserved glory to say that Jesus “knew” all these things without learning them. I will be accused by many of lowering Christ to my level, of blasphemy, and other such things. And so I ask up front: which would provide more glory to God:
- God comes down, becomes a man, and from the instant of His conception (or even from say, six years old) consciously remembers everything that has ever happened from past eternity. Then He lives out His life, fully remembering all the experiences He had as God, knowing fully all the results of every sin ever committed, and fully knowing every step He must take to fulfill His destiny, and then lives a sinless life and dies.
That is how most of the Christian world views Christ, either consciously or unconsciously. I would almost say that’s how the ENTIRE Christian world views Christ. And that, admittedly, gives glory to God – primarily because He didn’t sin, which was primarily because “He was God”. So does this next option give Him more or less glory?
- God comes down, becomes a man. And in the moment of His conception, the man is IGNORANT of all His past. He is just another child, like any other. And the child grows, and chooses the right course of action at each turn – because it’s the right thing to do. As He goes to church every Sabbath, He hears prophecies read in Isaiah and Psalms; and He begins to realize at a certain age that those prophecies fit exactly the things that have happened to Him. Then, based solely on the understandings in the prophecies, He begins to read more, ask more, understand more, then gradually as He sees more prophecies He figures out the entire plan of God, and all the prophecies that were written about Himself and sees what must happen to Him. Finally He starts working miracles and then still based only on the words of the Bible and the signs that He has wrought and the truth He believes, He willingly lays down His life for a God whom He has never seen, doesn’t remember, and knows only through the channels that are available to you and I. And of course, His life was sinless.
Which of those would be HARDER to do? Would it be HARDER for God to go into this life “blind”, or knowing ALL that had ever happened or ever WOULD happen? Would it be easier for Him to just KNOW, or to LEARN? Which Gives God more GLORY? No honest person could answer that the first option is more glorious than the second option!
Can you IMAGINE! Imagine if YOU were to read in the Bible something that seemed to apply to YOU. Which seemed to say that YOU were the Christ. Would YOU be able to trust it? Would you DIE based on a few words in the Bible which no one else understands or agrees with??
I usually don’t give the overview up front, but in this case I feel it is necessary so you can understand where I am going with this. This picture of the life of Jesus is unique among those I have encountered. Most whom I have talked to about it HATE it, and say I am just cheapening Jesus, and I say NO! I am making His sacrifice count a THOUSAND TIMES MORE, because this will show that He had to work A THOUSAND TIMES HARDER than a Jesus who just “knew” everything from the start! And the Bible most definitely states that Jesus LEARNED in this life!
Hebrews 5:8Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
For the time being it is moot WHAT He learned, but the point is that an omniscient being who had been alive FROM forever, TO forever, LEARNED SOMETHING! And if you can LEARN, there is something YOU DID NOT KNOW!
Luke 3:52 And JESUS INCREASED IN WISDOM and stature, and in favour with God and man.
If Jesus magically knew all the knowledge of the universe from His first breath, He COULD NOT HAVE increased in wisdom! But Jesus LEARNED as a child! He INCREASED in wisdom, just as we all do! So how did He learn? Where did He get his information? Angels? God’s spirit?
JESUS LEARNED FROM THE PROPHECIES
Hebrews 10:5-7Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,)to do thy will, O God.
We usually just read over this scripture, but when you look at it you realize that it is literally talking about Jesus understanding the will of God and where He learned it.
Verse 5 sets the time frame as “when He came into the world”. Then He understood that sacrifices were to be done away, then said “Lo, I come to do your will, O God” – and He said that “in the volume of the book it is written of me”!
Jesus LEARNED from the “volume of the book”, JUST as we must! When did He start learning about it? When did He first realize who He was? Well, His mother had certainly remembered the circumstances of Jesus’ birth, and at an appropriate age it was certainly told to Him. But now we can really understand just what was going on when Jesus was twelve years old…
Luke 3:46-47And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
What questions was the 12-year-old Jesus asking the greatest theologians of His time? What questions were burning on that mind? I’ve heard lots of fanciful answers, but the simple fact is revealed in His answer to his parents:
Verses 49-50And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.
It was His Father’s business that He was learning; He was learning what it was, and how to do it. These people had the answers in the scriptures, but they didn’t know where to look nor would they believe what they found there.
John 5:46For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.
Jesus knew that Moses had written of Him because IT’S WHERE HE LEARNED IT! Moses, Isaiah, David, and the other prophets all wrote of Jesus; there is scarcely a book in the Old Testament where Jesus isn’t directly prophesied somewhere.
JESUS COMPARED THOSE PROPHECIES TO HIS LIFE
So imagine yourself as a young child; it has been told in your family that your mother was a virgin, that angels announced your birth, that your cousin leaped in the womb and your aunt prophesied of you before you were born; the wise men, the star, the shepherds, and so on; the prophecies of Anna and and Simeon; the various things the Angels said to Joseph, Mary, and Zacharias. All these things were no secret.
And so as a small child, you hear these things and as you go to church week after week you hear scriptures like this in church:
Isaiah 7:14Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
And start to wonder, “could that be me?” – it all fits, but seriously, what if YOU were to read in the Bible that YOU were the Savior of mankind; that YOU were the Son of God. Would you accept it? What are the odds?
All these signs notwithstanding, most people don’t even believe the Bible when it promises protection from thieves and murderers, but could you believe that it’s prophesying of you, and not think you’re crazy for thinking this? Especially when everyone you meet outside the family thinks that your mother had a dalliance with a Roman soldier? And no one believes what you see written in scripture?
But then more and more things in scripture fit the pattern of His life; just to use a few examples mentioned in scripture, Hosea 11:1 says “and called my son out of Egypt.”, which Matthew 2:15 says was fulfilled by fleeing to Egypt until Jesus was two years old. The slaughter of children by Herod fulfilled a scripture in Jeremiah. He lived in Nazareth to fulfill the scripture “He shall be called a Nazarene”. He preached in Galilee, fulfilling Isaiah 9:2. On and on the list goes.
So you see, there was plenty of information available for Jesus to learn who He was. He didn’t NEED to remember past eternity. He just needed to understand the Bible and all the information He needed was right there. But God did specifically withhold some information from Him.
Mark 13:32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
Only the Father knew the day and hour of Jesus’ return in that time. Jesus specifically said that He, Himself did not know when the end would come. He knew the signs – but He didn’t know the date. And this effectively clinches any argument about whether or not Jesus was omniscient as a man. Jesus did know know when “the end of the age” was coming.
It is certain that He knows now, for “all power in heaven and earth” are His. But then, He did not know everything. He knew only what was revealed in the Bible, or revealed through the spirit of God as a prophecy, just as things were revealed through Elijah or Peter or Moses;
Why do I dwell on this so much? Why is this so important? Because the world views Jesus as a divine Being, much more God than human. They put Him on a pedestal so high up that they can’t even see Him. They make Him unhuman in the name of worship, but in so doing deny the very thing He came to prove; that a human could obey God.
They make him unapproachable, when the point of His life and death was to provide us with a Savior that COULD be approached. With whom we could identify. That had real emotions and had real feelings. The same feelings that we would have. The world views Him like some renaissance painting, not like a real, flesh-and-blood PERSON. But that’s exactly what He was – a PERSON.
Hebrews 2:14, 17-18Forasmuch then as the childrenare partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same … Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
If Jesus KNEW the results of sin before He began, then He had a leg up on the rest of us. He wouldn’t have been “in all things made like unto His brethren”. If Jesus KNEW all there was to know, then it wasn’t a fair test. Ignorance is a great source of our temptation – not knowing the results of sin is one of the things that causes us to sin. So if Jesus wasn’t ignorant of that, then He wasn’t “tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin”.
Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
He FELT our weaknesses; He had them Himself! He KNEW what it was like to feel weak, to feel pain, to feel lust, to feel ignorance; to wonder why God chose HIM, to wonder what HE was put here to do! To wonder HOW to do what it was God wanted! He knew the ignorance of simply not knowing what was right, and having to choose based solely on the Bible and in defiance of what everyone He knew said!
John 2:24-25 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.
HOW did He know? Because of some sixth sense God endowed? Or because HE WAS TEMPTED WITH THE SAME NATURE AS MEN! Because He Himself felt those same temptations, those same lusts, and KNEW what Men were really like! Because He WAS A MAN!
And yet if He had KNOWN who He was, and what He was to do, and how it was all going to work out, then His sacrifice didn’t require faith! Think about it! If He KNEW exactly what to do, what was going to happen, and what the Father was going to do, IT WASN’T FAITH!
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things NOT seen.
Romans 8:24-25 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for; but if you SEE what you hope for, then it isn’t hope, and therefore isn’t the substance of faith!
It would have been too easy; it would have ruined the experiment; it would have destroyed the usefulness of His sacrifice, if He had known up front all of this. No, He learned it the same way we learn who and what we are; from the Bible. From the prophecies. From the understanding God gives us.
And He learned it and believed it so much that He laid down His life and DIED based solely on what He read in some musty old book! And by the time He was ready to die, He had put those pieces together – all of which are in the Old Testament, if you know where to look – and knew exactly what was going to happen to Him that last night.
THEN HE KNEW
John 13:1Now before the feast of the passover, WHEN JESUS KNEW that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
It was only THIS passover that Jesus finally KNEW that His hour was come! Earlier, He had refused to go up to the passover publicly, because as He said “My time is not yet come”(John 7:6). Knowing that to go up to the passover publicly might well lead to His death, He knew it was not time yet. So He went up secretly and didn’t reveal Himself until the MIDST of the feast (Verse 14), when there was no chance of dying to fulfill the prophecy. He knew He was to die on Passover, but although He didn’t know WHICH passover, He knew the signs had not yet been all fulfilled – although a few had:
John 7:8 Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet FULL come.
But back in John 13:1, Jesus KNEW his hour was come. And now finally it says:
John 13:3 Jesus KNOWING that the Father had given all things into his hands, AND THAT HE WAS COME FROM GOD, AND WENT TO GOD;
It says He KNEW all this NOW! He hadn’t always known it, because He had “increased in Wisdom”! But now He KNEW! Now He was READY, for the prophecies had all been fulfilled, and all that was left was to let it play out.
John 18:4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?
How did He learn this? Where did He get the detailed information? Angelic memo, perhaps? No. Scripture after scripture was SPECIFICALLY mentioned as being fulfilled that night. Things from Jeremiah, Isaiah, Psalms. If you knew where to look – which is why we have the spirit of God – practically everything that ever happened to Jesus was in the Old Testament. And specifically all the things that happened that last night.
The taking of swords; the betrayal of Judas; the thirty pieces of silver; the disfiguring abuse, the false witnesses, the gall, vinegar, the piercing of His side, the fact that no bones were broken, the time of His death, the time of His burial, His resurrection, and hundreds of other things can be seen in the Old Testament by ANYONE. And Jesus because of His flawless obedience had wisdom and understanding beyond anyone before or since! So you may imagine what might He might be able to see in the Old Testament, things that our disobedience prevents us from understanding!
So you see, not only was there no need for Jesus to remember past eternity, not only would it have destroyed His usefulness as a sacrifice and an example, but the Bible simply doesn’t support it. Jesus learned. He increased in Wisdom. He knew things at some points in His life that He hadn’t known before, and He never did learn others until after His resurrection.
And yet in spite of being on equal footing with us, He was able to hear the sermons preached out of Isaiah and Psalms, compare them to what had happened around His birth and in His life, and realize that they spoke of Him. And He believed those words so much, and trusted in God who wrote them so much, that He was willing to lay down His life for that belief.
He was able to look into the pages of the Bible and see an answer to the questions we all ask; why God chose Him; why was He here. What should He do, and How; and then to act on that answer. He was no better off in life than you – so why haven’t you found those answers?