Theological Reflection

Jesus Didn’t Know Everything

Jesus didn’t know everything. Obviously he knew a lot, but not everything. I’m talking about way back, of course, when he roamed the earth 2,000 years ago. The Jesus that we see in the Gospels is astonishly wise, insightful, piercing, and perfectly aligned with the truth. He often knows people’s thoughts, and other things that no ordinary human being would know. But at the same time, the Jesus we see in the Gospels is not one who is all-knowing.

This is a difficult thing for us to get our heads around, with Jesus being God and all. God is omniscient (a technical word meaning ‘all-knowing’), and Jesus is most certainly God, so doesn’t that make Jesus omniscient, all-knowing? Well, let’s think about that for a moment.

The Boy Jesus, Growing in Wisdom

This Advent we’re looking at the humanity of Jesus. Last Sunday we looked at Luke 2:40-52, a passage that gives us unique insights into the boyhood of Jesus. In fact, nowhere else in the Bible gives us any record of Jesus’ life between infancy and adult maturity (around age 30). And one of the great things this passage gives us is a small taste of what Jesus’ upbringing was like.

In particular, one phrase in this passage is helpful for us in thinking about Jesus’ omniscience; in Luke 2:52, we’re told that “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.” 

This passage tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom. I want to suggest that Jesus couldn’t have grown in wisdom if he had all wisdom to begin with. Jesus could not have learned anything if he came out of the womb knowing everything already. And so this passage, I believe, demonstrates for us that Jesus could not have been omniscient during his earthly life in the same way that God the Father is omniscient.

Jesus didn’t know everything.

The Man Jesus, Full of Wisdom

But let’s not get the wrong impression here – Jesus knew a lot of things.

He knew what was in a man (John 2:25).

He knew the long relationship history of a woman he had just met (John 4:16-19).

He sometimes knew the thoughts of those around him (Mark 2:8).

He knew from the beginning who was going to betray him (John 6:64).

He knew who he was, he knew he was the Messiah, and he knew what his mission was.

The Jesus that we see in the Gospels is astonishly wise, insightful, piercing, and perfectly aligned with the truth. He knows things that no ordinary person could know. Being so intimately in relationship with His Father, Jesus was wiser and more insightful than anyone else has ever been. And being filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus had things revealed to him that no ordinary person could possibly know. But he didn’t know everything.

For one example (and I think this is the only example in the New Testament where Jesus doesn’t know something), Jesus said he didn’t know how long it would be until his return, his second coming (Matthew 24:36).

And, of course, another example is that Jesus grew in wisdom.

Jesus knew all that he needed to know to complete his mission, but he was still fully human.

What We Can Know

I have to put a disclaimer here. Any time you’re talking about the nature of Christ – fully God, and fully man – we have to acknowledge that we can’t fully grasp how this all works. One person being 100% God and 100% human? As my youth group leader used to say, the incarnation is good theology, but bad maths.

But this shouldn’t make us feel uncertain on what the Bible does teach us on these things. Just because we can’t know something exhaustively, it doesn’t mean we can’t know it truly. We don’t know everything about Jesus and the incarnation, but we can know some things for sure. Jesus is fully God. Jesus is fully man. Jesus lived a perfect life and sacrificed himself to reconcile us to God.

Jesus came to live as one of us, so that he could die as one of us, and in this way save all of us.

Those are some truths you can stake your life on.

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