Saturday, September 25, 2010

Was Jesus taking theological steroids?

So, I had a fun little debate/good-natured argument with some of the people here about Jesus. We were talking about Mark 13:32, where Jesus says that "only that Father" knows when He (Christ) is coming back. We were arguing if that excluded Jesus from knowing (like total noobs, we all forgot the fact that it explicitely says "not the angels, nor the Son") and from there, it turned into a general discussion/argument of exactly how Christ operated on earth. So I'm going to lay out here my views on the God-man's human existence on earth.

Before I got to Biola, I just had this sort of assumption that yeah, Jesus was man, but there were times where he cheated and used his "God-powers." So Jesus was fully man, and acted fully man, most of the time, but sometimes he wasn't and didn't. I now believe this to be incorrect (I also know it, when expressed in that manner, to be heresy). The easiest way to sum up my point is this: Jesus didn't cheat. Let me explain.

On earth, Jesus did all of his miracles, and I mean all of them, through the Holy Spirit, exactly the same way the Apostles and later Christians did and still do miracles today. In John 3:34, Jesus says that the Father "gives the Spirit without measure." In the context of the verse, because Jesus has been saying lots of things about himself specifically, Jesus is most likely saying that the Spirit has been given without measure to Him (Christ) specifically. So Jesus is full to brim of the Holy Spirit.

Main verse: Matthew 12:22-32. Jesus casts out a demon and, as always, the Pharisees are there to talk smack. They claim that Jesus is using the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons (either Satan or his "second-in-command") and Jesus knows what they're thinking. So he says, "If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." If you've read Matthew, you know one of the main themes of Matthew is that the kingdom of God is upon us. So Jesus is casting out demons specifically by the Spirit of God.

When you add onto that verses like Matthew 4:1, where it is specifically the Spirit that leads Jesus into the Wilderness, or Hebrews 9:14, where Christ offers himself "through the eternal Spirit," the case for a "non-cheating" Jesus grows even stronger. But it doesn't end there. If Jesus was only able to do his miracles because he was God, casting out demons, healing the sick, making the lame walk, walking on water, etc., then it stands to reason that no one else could do any of those things. Let's look at the Bible and see if that's the case.

So, we got casting out demons. Paul does that, in Acts 16:18. It's not even a big deal. The spirit is just annoying him (seriously, that's what it says) so he casts it out. Healing the sick? Peter does that, Acts 9:34. Making the lame walk? Peter and John, Acts 3:7. Walking on water? Come on, we all know this one, Peter, Matthew 14;29. Heck, Paul's sweat rag heals people in Acts 19:12. And to cap it all off, we have the list of Spiritual Gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, some of which have been given to all believers. We got speaking wisdom, speaking knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, speaking in tongues, understanding tongues, distinguishing spirits... all the kinds of stuff that Jesus was doing all the time (except speaking in tongues). And where do all these gifts come from? How do we receive and use these gifts? "All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills."

So. Jesus didn't cheat--he worked miracles and healed people by the same Spirit that the apostles did, the same Spirit that empowers believers today. Now we get to the "this is important because..." section.

This is important (1) because we are supposed to follow the example of Christ. We are supposed to do as he did in all things. Sure, we don't usually do that anyway, because we let the flesh overcome us, but it would be flat-out impossible if Jesus had been cheating the whole time! If Jesus was doing all that stuff just because he was God, we wouldn't have a chance at following his example, because we are not God. If, however, he did all that through the Spirit, then we have a shot. Because we, too, have the Spirit.

This is important (2) because the Bible says that Christ was made like us "in every respect." (Hebrews 2:17). He was made like us. He chose to be like us, to make himself nothing, to take the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7). Now, to make sure you guys don't get the wrong idea, I have to say one more thing. All of what I've just said does not mean that Jesus was only man. He was still fully God when he was fully man. As God, he chose to be God in our world, as man. In his omnipotence, he chose to be weak. But he remained at all times fully God. But he didn't cheat.


  1. Kenzie!! We're coming to visit you man! This is the first of your blogs that I've read so far, and it was a really, really good reflection. My friends and I have discussions involving Jesus' man element all the time, and this is a really great perspective to have.

  2. Awesome, dude! I'm really glad you think so.