Did Jesus Diminish His Divine Power to Become Human?

On Friday we ended the week talking about the physical origins of Jesus and how the miraculous conception happened biologically today we move to a question of what divine attributes were necessary for Christ to lay down in order to take up his humanity the question comes from Matthew in Vienna the capital of Austria

Hello Matthew thank you for writing in dear pastor John thank you for all your work over the years of ministry my small group recently considered the subject of Jesus’s divinity and humanity I looked through desiring God’s resources and found a sermon that you delivered way

Back in 1981 in that sermon on Luke 2:52 you say this quote our text has important implications for understanding the divinity of Christ it helps us understand what Paul meant when he said though he was in the form of God he did not count equality with God a thing to

Be grasped but emptied himself taking the form of a bondservant as Philippians 2 verses 6 & 7 one of the things Christ emptied himself of was omniscience you said later regarding the attributes of God you said this quote they were his potentially and thus he was God but he

Surrendered their use absolutely and so he was man in quote now the question is how do you now understand Philippians 2 verses 6 to 8 and Luke 2 verse 52 do these texts really necessitate that some attributes of the eternal divine nature of Jesus must have been given up or laid

Down at his incarnation pastor John what would you say to Matthew well I’m glad this question is asked and I’m glad they quote my old sermon because the first thing I would say is that I would speak today with more precision and care than

I did in those sentences I as I as I read those I went back and read them in context I thought oh that’s that was not very careful when we say things about Jesus Christ after the incarnation of the eternal divine Sun we have to be careful not to

Give the impression that the divine nature of Christ has the same limitations that the human nature of Christ does and I don’t think I made that distinction clear enough in 1981 I would not want to say for example that Christ in His divine nature emptied himself of any essential divine

Attribute and I think omniscience is an essential divine attribute so when in Matthew 24:36 Jesus says that not even the Sun knows the time of Jesus return I take him to mean that the Son Jesus Christ considered in his human nature operates with a kind of limitation but

Not the divine nature now I know that sounds weird that sounds strange and it is strange it is strange because the union of two natures in one person one divine and one human is beyond our experience and will always be beyond our personal experience we’re never gonna be

God and we we may expect it to sound strange so how then do I understand Philippians 2:5 2:8 and the emptying of himself let me read the verses so we all have it in in front of us though he was in the form of God he did not count

Equality with God a thing to be grasped grasped but emptied himself by taking the form of a servant and being born in the likeness of men and being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death even death on a so verse six you have the pre-existent

Christ before incarnation in the form of God which the next phrase defines as equality with God then in verse 7 you have him taking the form of a servant in the likeness of men and I think just as the term form of God in verse 6 does not

Mean less than God because of the term equality with God in the same way the term form of a servant or likeness of man in verse 7 does not mean less than human but rather equal with all humans that is a real human nature upshot

Christ is very God and very man and in between those two statements you have this famous phrase he emptied him self what does that mean I don’t think it means that Christ in His divine nature became less than fully divine in other words he didn’t empty himself of deity

One of the reasons I don’t believe that is what Paul meant is because he says the very opposite in Colossians 2:9 he said for in him in Christ the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily you know you even wondered whether he use the word fullness there parceling say he

Didn’t he didn’t empty himself of that he not empty he’s not only not empty he’s full he’s full of deity the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily in Jesus so I don’t think he emptied himself of anything that constitutes the essence of deity I think the best clue for how to think

About the emptying probably comes from John 17:5 where Jesus says father glorify me in your presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed so John had already said in John 5:18 that the Jews recognized that Jesus was making himself equal with God so on the one hand the

Incarnate Christ in the Gospel of John has a divine nature he’s fully God on the other hand there were aspects of his glory which he had laid aside and that’s why he’s praying father restored to me the glory I had with you before the foundation of the world and I think that

Would include at least the privileges of deity that stand between the divine Christ and the shame and degradation and suffering and death of the cross that’s the point that’s the point of Philippians 2:58 that he moved from such height to such shameful degradation on our behalf and that’s the mindset

We’re supposed to have as we serve others but then again and I need to qualify and say it would be a mistake to say that he laid aside all of the divine glory in becoming man because in John 1:14 it says the word became flesh and

Dwelt among us and we behaved see we have seen his glory glory as of the only son from the father full of grace and truth so there was a divine glory in the Incarnate Christ for those who had eyes to see but the fullness of divine glory I think

Would have incinerated sinners and blinded everyone and this he emptied himself of maybe the best way to say it is that what whatever stood between the fullness of the divine glory before the Incarnation and the suffering and shame and degradation and death of the cross whatever stood between there that had to

Be laid aside so that he could he could do it and the the only thing I would say now with regard to Luke 2:52 which was mentioned in the quest Jesus increased in wisdom and stature in favor would God a man the only thing I’d say there is Jesus was in his human

Nature fully man and therefore he grew he grew up through the stages of childhood like other humans and yet without sin Paul says in 1st Timothy 2:5 there is one God and there is one mediator between God and men the man human Christ Jesus so in his divine nature Christ was

Fully God in his human nature he was fully man in his divine nature he had all the essential attributes of God during his incarnation and in his human nature he was finite and could therefore grow in wisdom and stature just just by way of conclusion no book in the Bible

Exalts the deity of Christ better than the book of Hebrews of the son he says your throne O God is for ever and ever Hebrews 1:8 and no book stresses the humanity of Christ for the sake of his sympathy with with our weaknesses like Hebrews does chapter 4 verse 15 we we do

Not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses but one who in every respect was tempted like we are therefore in this Advent season let us do exactly what Hebrews 4:16 says let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive

Mercy and find grace to help in time of need we we have a great divine and human Savior amen what a profound mystery here and beautifully approachable – thank you Pastor John for that answer Matthew thinks for the very good question thank you to everyone who listens thank you for

Making the podcast part of your Advent season this year you can subscribe to our audio feeds and search our past episodes in our archive and even reach us by email with the question of your own even questions about maybe something you’ve seen in an old John Piper sermon

That you would love to have clarified by him you can do all of that through our online home at desiring God org forward slash ask Pastor John well there’s a great danger in worshiping gifts more than the gift giver that of course is idolatry and this topic is especially

Important in a season of gift-giving like this one that we’re in the midst of so how do we love the giver more than his gifts and of course we’re talking about our relationship to God and God as the giver that is next as we ask and answer some Christmas related questions

And the podcast of this year I’m your host Tony ranky thanks for listening we’ll see you next time you

#Jesus #Diminish #Divine #Power #Human