Let Jesus be Jesus [A re-post slightly revised]

I’m always banging on about the trinity here.

One thing I particularly emphasize is the fact that the distinct Persons maintain their distinct-ness in the unity of the Godhead because this unity is the perichoresis (mutual indwelling) of the Persons.  In fact the distinct-ness is upheld in these relations.  The Father is truly Father because of His paternal relation to the Son in the Spirit etc, etc. God’s One-ness does not steamroller the distinctions, it’s a One-ness that includes (and is even constituted by) this mutual, interlocking one-ness.  (Just click the Trinity tag on my sidebar and you’ll soon come across many such posts).

One implication is this: We can all just breathe a sigh of relief and let Jesus be Jesus.

What do I mean by that?  Well let me ask a few questions.  When you read the Gospels, do you ever wonder:

  • Why doesn’t Jesus just say ‘I am God’?  Why all this ‘I am sent…’ stuff?
  • Why does Jesus keep saying things like: ‘I can do nothing by myself’? (e.g John 5:19,30)
  • How come Jesus sleeps?
  • How come Jesus doesn’t know when He’s returning?

He seems to walk around doing divine things (like forgiving sins), but at the same time He seems to go out of His way to show how dependent He is.  Think about the paralytic in Matthew 9. He forgives his sins – which only God can do (v3) – but He does so as the Son of Man (v6) and the overwhelming reaction of the people is to glorify God for giving such authority to men. (v8)  Even the most blatantly divine action is done in a distinctly human and dependent way.

Do we get worried about Jesus’ weakness which comes out of every page of the Gospels?  Are we concerned that Jesus doesn’t say “I am God”?  Instead He seems most often to claim a dependence on God and He walks around unashamedly humanly, showing Himself to be a complement (not a clone) of the One He calls Father.

Does this infuritate us as we seek to prove from the Scriptures the divinity of Jesus??  It shouldn’t do.

It is a revelation of His divine nature (and not a concealment) that we see in Jesus such dependence on the Father.  When He says ‘I am sent’ it reveals His divine nature as the eternal Son of the Father.  When He says ‘I can do nothing’ it reveals His divine nature as the eternal Servant of the LORD.  When He sleeps it reveals His divine nature as One dependent upon the ever-wakeful Father.  When He says He doesn’t know when He’s returning He reveals His divine nature as One sent from God.  He waits on the Father’s command and does not initiate His first or second coming.

He really can’t do anything by Himself.  He really does sleep.  He really doesn’t know when He’s returning.  But for all that He is no less divine.   For He belongs to the other Members and as the dependant Son, filled without measure with the omnipotent Spirit, He is a full participant in the communion that is God.

We don’t need to assign these differences in Jesus to some ‘human nature’ locked off from a special sphere of uncorrupted, independent deity.  Jesus’ deity is not insulated from these differences, it includes them.  It is the human Jesus who says ‘If you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father.’  It is the human Jesus who says ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’  In His differences, even in His complete humanity, He is the living God.

His divinity is on show on every page of the Scriptures because His divinity is His anointing with the Spirit and consecration to the Father.  That’s why the key title for Jesus is not “God” but “the Christ, the Son of God.”  This title is the most clear expression of His divinity.

So let’s let Him be who He is in the Gospels.  Let’s not fit Him into some pre-conceived notions of divinity.  Let’s let Jesus be Jesus.

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Posted on by Glen in christology, Doctrine of God, theological method, trinity

About Glen

I'm a preacher in Eastbourne, married to Emma.

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