So Erin had to go and suggest I actually bring scripture into the discussion. . .
First, though, let me respond to a couple comments left by Hisstoryun underneath that post.
"(I wonder what led you to your conclusion that Jesus was only a man. It is not biblical (as you put it) for scripture does not support the idea. It is noteworthy too that you offer no supporting scripture for your theory. On the contrary, scripture supports the opposite idea that Jesus is indeed God.)"
You misunderstand my point. If that's because of my lack of clarity, I apologize. I never meant to imply that Jesus only a man. Along with Paul in his letter to the Colossians, I believe that "in him the fullness of deity dwelled." I affirm the ancient teaching that Jesus was fully God, and fully human. I simply suggested that Jesus set aside his prerogative to access his divinity while he walked on earth. He never ceased being divine; he simply chose to fully embrace humanity for the 30-some years he walked on earth.
"If Jesus had somehow given up His role and rightful place as God, how then could He be the Savior of the world because as such he surely would have been a fallible sinner the same as you or me?"
I disagree. It was exactly because he gave up his role and rightful place, and remained the spotless Lamb, that he became the Savior of the World. Now, if you're understanding of the atonement is locked into a Penal Substitution Model, in which the Perfect Infinite God had to pay the Eternal Infinite Price for our sin, then you need the Infinite Jesus to die for you; in fact, you don't really need Jesus to become human. But if you start to lean toward a Recapitulation Theory, then it becomes extremely important that, in fact, he lived the perfect human life in all its fullness - a life not relying on his own powers, but a life grounded in a relationship with his Father, who was the source of strength and life.
I appreciate the work you put into your reply; obviously, you put much time and energy into it. Unfortunately, I think you're arguing against a position that I wasn't taking in the first place. Again - I'm not saying that Jesus was "just a man." I'm saying that, when God took on human form in Jesus, God embraced that humanity to the fullest. Jesus was God, but Jesus chose to lay aside the "special position and abilities" due God - not that he didn't have them; he just chose not to use them. In that way, he showed for the rest of us what True Life looks like - the way humanity was intended to be, living in perfect communion with our own heavenly father.
Okay, back to Erin.
I think, to begin with, it comes to a question of philosophy and interpretation. The scriptures teach that Jesus was God and man. They don't teach how that worked. They don't give us any schematics. They just show Jesus at work, suffering and hurting like a human, yet performing miracles and showing "special insight" that must be attributed to God's power.
Most of us start with the preconceived idea that Jesus was kind of Superman - he looked human alright, but he had all these special, non-human powers. We point toward the verses that seem to imply this - the miracles, the Words of Knowledge - as proof, all the while ignoring (or explaining away) any verses that would seem to indicate otherwise.
But the scriptures also teach a Jesus that is human. A Jesus who gets angry, a Jesus who gets tired and hungry. And there are places where it seems Jesus' truly is lacking in information. Such as at the feeding of the 5000. "How much food do we have?" Some will say "he's just testing them - he already knows the answer." But that's an assumption based on a preconceived idea; it's not what the text says. Same as when the woman who had bled 12 years touches his cloak, and he turns around "trying to find out who touched him." Again, some say "he knew, he was just asking for her benefit." But that's an assumption placed onto the text; it's not what the text actually says.
Finally, there's this verse in John 14: "The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work."
I think there is a huge insight into Jesus' life here. Phillip has just asked "show us the Father," and Jesus replies "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father." He's talking about this interplay, this interconnectedness between himself and the Father, but it seems to me that he's saying that all he's taught and done he's done not by how own authority, but by the power of the Father working in and through him.
This also makes sense of Hebrews 4, where we are told "we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet he did not sin." Now, if Jesus was operating in his own strength as God, then this is just a game - sure he was tempted, but he was God, so he couldn't sin. What use is that? But if Jesus was operating as a human, and lived and moved not in his own power but in the power he received out of his intimate relationship with God, then there is actually something here we can grab ahold of.
Think of it this way: Jesus the Divine comes and wanders around in all his divinity, smiting demons and raising the dead and speaking Words of Knowledge because he's God. It's nice to look at, but it's totally foreign to us and gives us nothing to emulate. In fact, we could never hope to live as Christ lived. . .so why try? He's like Superman.
Or think of it this way - Jesus, though God, lays aside the rights and privileges of Godhood in order to experience humanity in its fulness (a la Phillipians 2). Now, one could argue that, since he was conceived of the Holy Spirit, he was lacking in the sin nature we all possess. I could go for that. But as Jesus grew, as he walked upon the earth, he lived and moved and had his being not in his own strength, but in the strength that he derived from his intimacy with the Father. The miracles he performed were not out of his own authority, but because he walked so closely with the Father. What he knew, he knew not because he had access to heaven's data bank, but because his mind was in one accord with the Father, and the Father revealed these things to him.
Here's why I like option 2:
- It takes the incarnation seriously. Either Jesus was fully human, or he wasn't. To take seriously his humanity, he could not live into the fulness of his Diety for that time.
- it takes seriously the verses that speak of Jesus' lack of knowledge, and all the times he is portrayed as fully human, rather than trying to "explain them away."
- It gives us a stronger mandate for discipleship. If Jesus was able to accomplish his works not because he has God's Power, but because he walked so intimately with the Father, then we have a call to walk intimately with the Father. We have this model laid before us that drives us to the Father for strength, for power, for understanding. It teaches us of the importance of relying on the Father.
It teaches us, in fact, that should we choose to walk intimately with the Father, as Jesus did, then we are living as Christ lived (what we're called to do in the first place), and that there is strength and power for us there.
I know, it seems foreign, and almost a little heretical, but I think if you go back and read the stories, and see how much Jesus relied on his relationship with the Father, if you go back and look at the anointing of Jesus at his baptism, if you look at the texts that speak of Jesus emptying himself. . .I think it's there, if you have eyes to see it.