There is much dispute about the identity of Jesus. Many believe Jesus was only a good man and teacher. Some believe a prophet and not “Almighty God” but, only “Lord”. As if there is suddenly some distinction between the Lord and God from the O.T. I believe the understanding who Jesus was and is; could be one of the most important things in human life.
Scripture makes it very clear that Jesus was God and is God. But, did he live on the earth as God?
I have been seeking the Lord about this in prayer and study for a month or so. It stems from the reality that “Jesus live by faith” and that Jesus “was perfected”. (See Hebrews)
Could God live by faith? Could God be perfected? Could God learn obedience? All of these ideas are applied to Jesus and raise the interesting question ~ “Did Jesus live as God?”
I have always heard that Jesus was fully God and fully man at the same time but, yet to see the Scripture to support the idea. Take a plunge with me into what may be a new idea to you. Don’t worry, I am not going to try to start some weird new cult. I am also not denying the Divinity of Jesus (Past, present and future) but, examining the possibility that Jesus, Himself as God chose to become only a man for a little while. (33 years)
I believe it’s clearly articulated throughout the New Testament. I am remaining somewhat open to the idea that this is wrong but, only Scriptural evidence can persuade me.
GOD FROM BEFORE THE BEGINNING ~
Just like the Nicene Creed from 325 AD, I agree that Jesus was pre-existent God. Uncreated God, from before the very beginning before creation.
“And the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only begotten of a father, full of grace and truth.” ~ John 1:14
What does it mean that Jesus became flesh and dwelt/tabernacled among us? The New Testament records this topic a lot in a variety of ways…
MADE LOWER THAN ANGELS ~
Hebrews 1 & 2 jumps back and forth on the topic of Jesus’ humanity. The entire book details how he was the “Righteous who lived by his faith.”
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, because of the suffering of death, having been crowned with glory and with honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews 2:9
Consider the profound implications of Jesus making himself lower than the angels! Did God ever step off the Throne? Yes and no. Jesus did but the Father did not. Could God still be God if he was under angels? I don’t think so.
When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.” Hebrews 1:3b,4
Since Jesus was (for 33 years) lower than the angels; He was able to inherit a better Name!
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, because of the suffering of death, having been crowned with glory and with honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.” Heb.2:9,10
God perfected the author of our salvation (Jesus, the man) because he was (for a little while) made lower than the angels and Jesus was perfected! ***More on this later***
MAN ON EARTH ~
When The Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, Peter declared many profound truths inspired by the Holy Spirit. It’s easy to focus on one at the expense of others and unfortunately, one truth that seems to have been overlooked was Peter’s emphasis of Jesus, the man.
22Men of Israel, listen to this message: Jesus of Nazareth was a man certified by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs, which God did among you through Him, as you yourselves know.” Acts 2
He intentionally said Jesus was a man certified (appointed, chosen) by God. He did not say that Jesus was fully man and fully God. He distinguished between Jesus the man and God the One who appointed the man. The N.T. often referred to Jesus as a man* in regards to his life and God in regards to his post-resurrection life.
“23Him delivered up by the determinate plan and foreknowledge of God, you put to death, having crucified Him by lawless hands, 24whom God raised up, having loosed the agony of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.” Acts 2
The man ,Jesus was killed and God raised him up! Did Jesus raise himself from the dead? Technically, no. The N.T. declares many times** that God (The Father) raised him from the dead by the power of (God) The Holy Spirit. Why? Because Jesus was a man.
If God died, He would not need anyone to raise him from the dead. God would raise himself from the dead. But, Jesus trusted in God who was able to raise him from the dead.
If you are familiar with Philippians 2:6-11, keep those verses in your mind as I sum up Peter’s words for the sake of brevity. Peter explained the Holy Spirit inspired words of David from Psalm 16. This Psalm was written from the perspective of a man; trusting the Lord for deliverance for his body and soul from hades and death!
32“This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses….
34“For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says:
‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD,
“SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND,
God raised up Jesus and even made him Lord and Christ! Was Jesus Lord before he became flesh, a man, a little lower than the angels? Yes. But, He was not Lord his entire life on earth.
Peter made it very clear that after Jesus ascended; God made him Lord!
Since God made him Lord; He must have stopped being Lord at some point. God didn’t make Jesus Lord “in the beginning”. Yes, Jesus, God The Father and Holy Spirit were One God and One Lord before time began.“4But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law…” Was God under the Law? Never! Was the man, Jesus under the Law? For a little while…
Now let’s quickly explore the verses I referenced in Philippians 2 ~ “Christ Jesus:Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to cling to,but emptied Himself…” Philippians 2:6b,7a
Again, Jesus was God. He was equal with God but did he remain equal? He emptied himself of what? Is it possible that he emptied himself of his divinity, of his fullness? The Greek word translated “emptied” was used ever other time in the NT as “make void” and it means to “deprive of content”. It sounds like the Word became flesh…and only flesh.
“taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8Being found in appearance as a man…” Phil.2
He went from the form of God (Being God) to the form of God’s bond-servant, man.
8Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil.2
Remember the earlier verses in Hebrews? Jesus was lower than the angels because He was a man. He was no longer God. He was not Lord. Both of those are Names above the angels.
Man was the only one lower than angels but, He inherited a better Name! The Name above every Name. Lord of Lord’s and King of King’s. Lord God Almighty.
I need to wrap this up but, there is so much more to say about this. James 1 says that God cannot be tempted. However, the exact same word “tempted” is the same word used when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. Hebrews went even further to say that Jesus became like us and was tempted in every way that we are tempted. Not only could God not be tempted but he certainly could not be tempted as a mere man…but, Jesus was.
I am going to have to follow this up with more about Jesus as the “Last Adam”. Hopefully, I can do that tomorrow and this idea is enough to inspire you to consider the implications of Jesus living as merely a man who had faith in God.
ADDED LATER ~ (Since writing this, I believe the Lord has showed me the partial truth behind this idea. Jesus did live as a man with a human heart BUT his Spirit was joined to God because “whatever is born of flesh is flesh and whatever is born of Spirit is spirit”. His body and heart were flesh but, his Spirit was conceived by God. I believe this is what has not been articulated by people when they say “He was fully man and fully God.”)