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Christology Questions IV:

Jesus' Birth, Baptism, Early Life, and Kenosis

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Question #1: 

Hello Dr. Bob,

I am puzzled by this scripture because it seems that Mary is not doing the will of God! How can she have forgotten her joy and song? ( Luke 1:46-55) Has her life pulled her down to such an extreme? Has the death of Joseph and her other children in their unbelief caused her to be so unfaithful? She did believe that He could to make wine for the wedding at Cana, so how was she not encouraged to be a disciple? The trials of families can take a toll on you, but she was chosen as the mother of our blessed Saviour ! I guess I’m wondering about Mary because she is not mentioned except at the crucifixion; maybe in 2 John:1; maybe 1Peter 5:13

Thank you for prayers and for study guides and for being a soldier of the cross,

Yours in Christ my Saviour,

Response #1: 

Good to hear from you.

I think what John 2:4 proves is that Mary was a human being, and that family life for that most special family was still family life. Our Lord obeyed His parents (when not yet of age) and honored them always. So when a situation like this one came up where something was asked of Him by, in this case, His mother, even if it was not perfectly in line with His purpose of the first advent, He would honor it if not sinful. I don't see Mary's request as stemming from unbelief. She is confident that Jesus can do whatever is necessary.

Perhaps your question is focused around the wording in the KJV's rendering, "what have I to do with thee?" It is not the best translation, in my view, and can lead to the kind of conclusion which seems to suggest itself in your email. Here is a better one:

And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come."
John 2:4 NASB

Please do feel free to write back on this.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Hello Bob,

I find it rather curious that there is found an absence of empathy between Jesus and his mother. Certainly I for one have never come across any expressions of love, what I have found suggests that Jesus was rather cold towards his mother. Take for instance the following from Mark 3:31-35:

And his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting about him, they said to him, 'Your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you.' And he replied, 'Who are my mother and my brothers?' And looking around on those who sat about him, he said, 'Here are my mother and my brother! Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.'

Jesus seems to have forgotten that His mother did indeed do the will of God by conceiving him in her womb, risking a scandalous outcry in the process, that he might be born. There is also found what I would call a derisory term used by Jesus towards his mother at his crucifixion: looking down from the cross Jesus upon seeing his mother standing next to a disciple, says (indicating the disciple) "Woman, behold thy son"! Strangely the familiar term Mother is missing. Jesus never recognises his mother as such As to the horrifying spectacle of her son, beaten, broken streaming with blood and sweat, in obvious pain pinned to a cross; would any mother dane to witness such a heart-rendering spectacle?

Thoughts please

Response #2: 

Jesus never forgot anything. Jesus is God – and true humanity too. He behaved perfectly towards all authority, including, especially, His parents (while He was not yet of age). In these two instances you relate I see truth (being saved is more important than blood relationship) and proper behavior (Jesus did take care of His mother and also secured her spiritual welfare from the cross; see the link: Why did Jesus choose John over James to take care of His mother Mary?). People are fond of injecting things into the gospel story. Suffice it to say that I certainly do not share your interpretation of these events; more than that, I have been communing with believers about the Bible all my life, and I have never heard your unique point of view on this before (nor do I agree with it now).

In fact, we know almost nothing about our Lord's early life or His relationship with His parents (mother and step-father) besides the fact that He "was obedient to them" (Lk.2:51 NIV). What can be known I have tried to write up in BB 4A in the section "The Life of Christ" (see below for some other links on this). There are reasons why scripture keeps us in the dark about most of our Lord's life before the commencement of His three and a half year ministry which preceded the cross. For one thing, if we did have a lot of detail, people would be tempted to focus on "Jesus the man" instead of Christ the Savior. Indeed, that is even so a huge failing of many who have come to scripture but who have never come to Christ. To be saved, a person has to understand the truth about our Lord, His perfect person, human and divine, and His work, dying on the cross in the darkness for all of our sins. Getting hung up on the mundane details of His life would tend to obscure these much more important truths. So we do not have much, but we have all we were meant to have. I have written this up at the following links:

The Early Life of Jesus Christ (in BB 4A)

Mary, Joseph, and Nazareth.

Mary 'Full of Grace'?

The events surrounding the birth of Christ

Aspects of the Life of Christ: Jesus' Siblings et al.

Christology I

Christology II

Christology III

Yours in Him who took on true humanity to save us from our sins, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Dear Brother Luginbill,

I've been meditating upon the relationship between Obedience and Love towards God the Father made manifest in Christ Jesus and the requisite response to that love as the children of God as prescribed by God and I've written a treatment thereof. I was wondering if you had any thoughts to share about Jesus refusing to be called "good". You're welcome to post this on your website, if you feel inclined to do so.

I look forward to your response.

Response #3: 

Good to make your acquaintance.

Before I comment on the substance of the attachment, I need to understand something. Putting aside the question of whether or not this particular passage, Luke 18:19, teaches the deity of Christ, I would like to know whether or not you accept that absolutely critical part of the gospel. After all, we are saved by grace through faith "in Christ", and that entails accepting His work and also who He is, the God-Man – otherwise we are believing in someone else or some false idea.

Now when He said to them, "I am [He] (i.e., ego eimi = יהוה = YHVH)," they drew back and fell to the ground.
John 18:6 NIV

For my own interpretation of Luke 18:19, please see the link: "Why did Jesus object to being called 'good'?".

Yours in Jesus Christ our Savior and dear Lord (יהוה).

Bob Luginbill

Question #4: 

Dear Brother Luginbill,

Well, I have yet to be convinced of the Trinity as it is most commonly taught; for the moment, I believe that there is something more. Of course I recognize each part of the Trinity but yet is it just as simple and as befuddling as 3 in 1 and 1 in 3? In all seriousness: Perhaps, I am blinded to the truth. I recognize God the Father, and I recognize Christ as His Son, but I cannot wrap my head around how Christ cannot be created, be a part of the Father, and yet also unique. And where does the Holy Spirit fit in? In all genuineness, I am still struggling to understand this doctrine in my heart of hearts. Nevertheless, I feel that to learn of this truth myself is much healthier than to simply assume what is taught by another. Also, that which I do comprehend is the need for the Sacrifice of Christ to be Perfect and thus Infinite, without measure and thus I can see how only the Infinite nature of God the Father could provide such an Atonement thereby justifying Christ as The God-Man.

I read your treatment of Luke 18:19 and it, too, is sound in reasoning--especially given the context of the conversation with the man. Perhaps in reading this text out of context I am falling down a rabbit hole. Nonetheless, I believe there is validity to my points about the importance of Obedience as sons of God and the danger of self-worship.

I hope my explanation is helpful. Though my interpretation of Luke 18:19 and subsequent thoughts about the deity and Goodness of Christ may be off, I believe that Scripture clearly demands some sense of Obedience which is fostered by our Faith. If not, are we not then simply professors? I would like to hear your thoughts on this point.

Thank you and take care.

Response #4: 

Here is what I read on that in scripture:

Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."
John 6:29 NIV

The fundamental act of obedience God requires of all mankind is the acknowledging of His Son – the person and work of Christ. That is the essential choice we are all placed here in the world to make. Life is all about choices; that is the essence of the image of God we have all been given, namely, the ability to make free-will moral choices. Once a person has accepted God's great Gift through faith, all other choices we make as believers are also faith choices, namely, to believe and obey, or to disbelieve and disobey. That is what following Christ is all about.

One major caveat here, however. Many people erroneously define obedience in such contexts as conforming to a very narrow, humanly concocted moral code. To do as Jesus did entails so much more than refraining from a small list of sins (or from behavior which may not even be sinful but which may have made it onto someone's "list"). Our Lord wants our positive response, not just a (necessarily partial) avoidance of some gross sinning. As I often put it, the Christian life does involve defense (though true sanctification as opposed to a legalistic refraining from only some activities, some of which may not even be truly sinful), but it is more about offense than anything else, rightly understood (that is, growing spiritually, walking with Christ, and helping other believers do the same through ministry).

So if we are to bemoan "disobedience", the failure of this generation of the Church, Laodicea (see the link), to love the Word of God and devote itself to learning it, believing it, living it, and helping others do the same, is the real problem: lukewarmness toward the truth is the disobedience which most characterizes the church-visible today, even much more so than failures in regard to sin (and there are certainly plenty of these as well).

It is certainly possible for believers to fall away (see the link: Apostasy and the Sin unto Death), but becoming entangled in any system which amounts to a gentile version of keeping the Law, and then assuming that this is pleasing to God, can be just as spiritually devastating as being entrapped in a cycle of gross sinfulness. In both cases, the believer in question is "not obeying" Christ's mandate to "pick up your cross and follow Me". Doing so does require the believer to pursue sanctification – remembering of course that "all sin" (Rom.3:23) and that "we all stumble in many ways" (Jas.3:2) and so will never attain such perfection that we can afford to forget about 1st John 1:9 for a single day – but true sanctification is even much more dependent upon the commitment to actually move forward, and that can only be achieved through the truth of God's Word in the power of the Spirit: believing the truth of the Word, paying close attention to reading the Bible, prayer and accessing solid, orthodox Bible teaching, believing the truth of what one is taught, applying that truth to one's life, passing the tests that come to refine the growing believer, and then, eventually after achieving spiritual maturity, coming into the ministry the Lord has ordained according the gifts the believer has been given. This is the only process whereby a believer can be truly obedient and do what Christ has called us to do.

So I would urge you to begin by nailing down basic biblical truths, and there is not much more basic for Christians than the doctrine of the Trinity and all the truths pertaining thereto. Here are some links that may assist you in entering into this noble quest – which is the only way to earn eternal rewards and glorify Jesus Christ:

Bible Basics 1:  Theology

Explaining and Defending the Trinity and the Person of Christ II

Explaining and Defending the Trinity and the Person of Christ I

Apologetics and the Trinity

The One True God and the Trinity in the Old Testament

Proving the Existence of God

Jesus is God

Where does the Bible teach that Jesus is God?

Jesus is God and Man

The Trinity in Scripture

Please feel free to write me back about any of the above.

Yours in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, and the only One through whom we may be saved.

Bob L.

Question #5: 

I am glad you are available to help Robert and I do have a question for you. I am about to study the book of Colossians so I can better understand Christ. Once I understand who He is and His importance to the Father, then I can understand better the ultimate sacrifice our Lord.

I know you have done a study on Christology but my specific question is related to: Col 1:15-17 and Christ's Preeminence in creation. I don't think that was highlighted sufficiently in your overview. Can you elaborate and specifically to this passage relationship to Gen 1:1 and John 1:1-2. Specifically, the phrase "Firstborn of all creation"? Does it mean Firstborn because He died and was resurrected eternally?

Thanks for your help.

Yours in Christ our Lord

Response #5: 

You are very welcome.

As to your question, Colossians 1:15-17 is a wonderful passage for demonstrating the deity of Christ. All things were created "by Him" (v.16) – and beyond all question the universe of time and space can only be created from outside of time and space before they exist, and only God can exist outside of the universe of time and space (let alone create time and space); so this ties into Genesis 1:1 where "God" creates the universe. God there is 'elohiym, the plural referring to the Trinity, but we know from Colossians and elsewhere that the Son is the Agent of creation (as the Father is the Planner and the Spirit the Empowerer, according to the roles they have adopted). And "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together" (v.17 NIV): only by being God could Jesus be "before" the universe; only by being God could the universe (that is what ta panta, "the all things", means in Greek, even going back as far as the pre-Socratic philosophers) "subsist" (synesteken, συνεστηκεν) "in Him". This ties in with John 1:1-2 where we see the Lord both existing before creation, face to face with the Father, and being the Agent of creation and everything having to do with creation necessarily having to do with Him.

That brings us to "first-born of all creation" in verse 15. This has troubled some, but it certainly need not do so, correctly understood. For one thing, all of the other statements in this passage you ask about cannot be squared with any other view than that "Jesus is God". The first problem (for some) is that "born" sounds as if it might indicate coming into existence after the universe in some way (which of course cannot be squared with what the rest of the passage says); the second problem (for some) is that "of creation" sounds as if it might indicate being only a part of the universe or having existence only in the universe (which of course cannot be squared with what the rest of the passage says). Neither of these "worried" interpretations are correct, however. In the first place, "first-born of all creation" is a title, not a description of origin; in the second place, the genitive phrase "of creation" is not a partitive genitive but an objective genitive – that is to say, it really means "over creation" (rather than "coming out of creation"), in the sense of ruling it.

The "first-born" is the one with the special status and the one who receive the double portion. A first-born son is, according to the customs of the biblical world (and also the Mosaic Law) the ruler of the rest, and he always receives a double portion of the inheritance. Jesus, by virtue of His victory at the cross, is the One of special status within the universe He created. Please note: this is a special status title which applies to His humanity. While other "first-borns" may be first among brothers, Jesus is first in all creation. That is why the "of creation" is added: not to diminish Christ but to show that His area of first-born privilege extends to the entire creation. The double portion Christ has received is being "first" over the Church, and also "first" over the Friends of the Bride (the millennial believers who will complement the Church and the believers therein on a one-to-one basis). So this title, rather than compromising Christ's deity, is given to show that in His humanity He is the "number one" in the universe He created . . . by virtue of providing salvation to it through that humanity He took on to save us. And we, His Church, are blessed beyond understanding to be the object of Jesus' love and desire, His special possession, won at the cross through His blood-sacrifice in enduring spiritual death, the judgment of all of our sins, on our behalf (which could only be accomplished by the second Person of the Trinity becoming a Man in addition to His deity).

Here are some other links which talk about these issues in more detail:

Christ the First-Born, High Priest in the Order of Melchizedek.

The Firstborn, the One who would earn the privileges of rulership, priesthood, and double portion (in BB 4A)

Friends of the Bride are the double portion of Christ (in CT 6)

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior, the First-Born of all Creation.

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Shalom Bob,

In Heb. 4:15 Apostle Paul declares that Jesus was tempted in ALL POINTS like as we are. Therefore, does these Heb. 4:15 ALL POINTS temptations include the 3 specific temptations that Jesus endured regarding Matt. 4:1-10 & Lk. 4:1-12. In other words, are we tempted in ALL POINTS like unto Jesus or does the above cited 3 specific temptations exceed as non inclusive to Heb. 4:15?

Response #6: 

The first thing to note is that "tempted" here is better translated "tested" (e.g., the same verb is used in the same book of Abraham's testing by God in Heb.11:17). Second, the phrase kata panta is more generic than the KJV's diction implies, and is made more so by the addition of the second qualifying phrase, kath' homoiteta: "like as" (KJV), which is to say "of course, everyone has specifically different tests in their lives". No one in our Lord's day was ever tempted to steal an automobile for the simple reason that they didn't exist. More to the point, our Lord is God as well as a true human being since His virgin birth, and during the first advent was operating under strict restrictions as to how He might use His divine powers in assisting His human nature (this is called, theologically, kenosis; see the link). This last point is the key one to understanding the three temptations of our Lord you ask about: all of the devil's temptations were directed at trying to get our Lord's humanity to violate these "ground rules" which Satan obviously knew quite well, for that in turn would defeat the mission of the first advent by obviating the purpose of the cross: our Lord had to reach Calvary in a perfect way for His sacrifice there to be acceptable. So, no, we are never going to be tempted as our Lord was (e.g., we can't turn stone to bread so that refraining from doing so is neither a temptation nor a proper test), but He was tested in every category of testing we face (kata panta), and in a way similar to us (kath' homoiteta), the differences being found in the differences between His special mission and His sinless perfection on the one hand, as compared to our lives in this sinful flesh on the other. Please see the links:

The Life of Christ

The three temptations

Yours in Jesus

Bob L.

Question #7: 

In the Satanic Rebellion, Part 3 ,..The Purpose, Creation & Fall of Man....you include the TEMPTATION scene with the devil after his 40 day Fast. We got all bent out of shape studying this in church last week. True or false: that in order to be truly TEMPTED one must be capable of yielding to the temptation, should he so choose? I can see Jesus, the SON OF MAN qualifying there .... not Jesus the SON OF GOD. As long as Jesus is God incarnate ... as much GOD as God is GOD ... He just cannot sin ... is INCAPABLE of it! As our perfect example to be copied when confronted with a sinful temptation, I can see how and why we should counter with the Word of God ( and act accordingly). But I got hot under the collar when the author of the book we were studying from posed the scenario that Jesus, GOD – could have taken the bait and sinned! Where am I messed up there? So much is all falling into place as I try to absorb all you give me so please bail me out of this one. The obvious answer is probably right there but my eyes miss it!

Response #7: 

I think you are right on the money. Speaking of our Lord as our model and, more particularly, our intercessor, Paul in Hebrews says:

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Hebrews 4:15 NKJV

This sums it up perfectly. As God, Jesus was unable to sin; as a true human being, He was tested/tempted; however, being a sinless (without a sin nature) human being, He was able not to sin (and did not sin). That is only technically different from being unable to sin (when a believer views the matter), even if for an unbeliever the difference is large.

The classical rendition of these truths is the Latin saying, "non posse pecare / posse non pecare"; in His deity Christ was "not able to sin"; in His humanity He was "able not to sin". For us to be saved, the Lord did have to actually take on a human nature; He did have to actually walk through this world through all manner of opposition without the benefit of His deity (kenosis; see the link); and He did actually have to die for our sins in Calvary's darkness in His humanity (His spiritual death on the cross; see the link). On the one hand it was impossible that all this would not happen in just the perfect way; on the other hand Jesus actually did have to fight these fights in a perfect way for our salvation to be won. This issue is similar (and intimately related) to the (only apparent) conundrum of the divine decrees and free will: on the one hand, God has decreed all that will happen; on the other hand, we actually do have free will and what we do would not have been decreed unless we did it (do it). So on the one hand the devil is crazy to think – or ever to have thought – that he had any chance whatsoever against God (or in this particular any chance of successfully suborning our Lord); on the other hand he is fighting hard and has been able to convince many angels and the majority of humanity over the centuries that he does have a chance to win.

Viewed with the eyes of faith, the victory of evil over good is an impossibility; viewed with the eyes of the world it not only looks possible but probable. How one thinks about this issue depends upon whether or not one has a quickened, spiritual viewpoint or a fleshly, worldly one. We know that Jesus could not be successfully tempted to yield – in which case we would be forever lost. But we know that through faith. Take away faith, and it becomes a (seemingly) empirical question. This distinction and disparity is actually a critically important part of the plan of God: every moral creature must be given a genuine free-will opportunity to decide for him/herself whether or not to choose for God. If everyone knew the real "score" deep in their bones, it would affect the choice, and many who do not really want to spend eternity with the Lord would be "forced" by the oppressive reality of the true situation which they could then not deny to choose for God in spite of themselves. So on the one hand God writes the truth of Himself "undeniably" on the universe (natural revelation; see the link); but on the other hand He gives human beings the ability to harden their hearts against that truth, and terminally so. That is apparently also true of angels (otherwise it is hard to explain how the one third followed Satan in revolt if the truth of their eventual defeat and damnation were in absolutely no doubt in their own hearts).

So to come back (finally) to the question, I would say, based on Hebrews 4:15 (and the rest of scriptural testimony on these matters) that our Lord was not only "able not to sin" but also that there was not the remotest chance that He would sin. That is not exactly the same thing as being unable to sin, in terms of defining things – since He too had to actually make these choices and follow through (as He did and perfectly so) – but it is exactly the same thing as being unable to sin in its practical effect, at least for those of us who accept God's truth about such matters. The devil clearly saw a difference (as do many unbelievers), but that is not the "faith viewpoint".

Yours in our precious, perfect, and victorious Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have life eternal.

Bob L.

Question #8:  

Hi Bob,

Was Jesus Christ born with a 'soul' on earth? Since we read the second man was the Lord from heaven.

Response #8: 

Jesus Christ is God; since the moment of the incarnation, He is also a true human being in every sense that we are, albeit without sin.

Whenever anyone is born, God places a human spirit in their body and they become "a living person ("person" sometimes translated as "soul")", just as in the case of the very first human being:

The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground (BODY) and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (SPIRIT), and the man became a living being (nephesh-SOUL).
Genesis 2:7 NIV

So no one "has a soul"; we are "souls", biblically speaking (aka "persons"). For more on that often misunderstood topic please see the link: "Soul versus spirit".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Ok, Bob. So Jesus could not sin, right? The seed of God cannot sin. I am sorry Bob, that I am so dense on this understanding and I read your Soul versus spirit, but per your response - Jesus Christ is God; since the moment of the incarnation, He is also a true human being in every sense that we are, albeit without sin. Am I left to understand - Jesus was the fullness of God: bodily, but born in a sinful flesh, is this correct? Even though the seed of God cannot sin (I John 3:9).

Response #9: 

Jesus did not have a sin nature. That was the point behind the virgin birth. The sin nature is passed down through the male, not the female. So our Lord was born "in the likeness" of sinful flesh (Rom.8:3), but His body was not corrupt as ours are from birth. Of course, the same was true of Adam and Eve, and they sinned anyway. Jesus did not sin. He ran a perfect course in spite of the most intense opposition imaginable (and really unimaginable and largely unknown to us). He was therefore qualified to bear our sins on the cross – and so He did, resulting in salvation for all willing to accept God's great Gift.

In our dear Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #10: 

Ok Bob!, as my mother would say - "We are cooking with gas, now". This is what I referred to as the changed glory (So our Lord was born "in the likeness" of sinful flesh (Rom.8:3). He (The Word) came in the form (the changed glory) of the fallen descendants of Adam (as an earthly man), but as the seed of God, he could NOT sin. Outwardly, Jesus looked like everybody else, but He was God and the devil had nothing in him (Jesus's glory was not changed, per Romans 1:23) Jesus was the TRUE glory of God in the form of a earthly man. Adam & Eve, before the fall, had the ability NOT to sin. The angels in heaven had the ability NOT to sin. But Jesus is God and as the seed of God on earth in flesh, he could NOT sin for the seed of God CANNOT sin, NOR can he be touch with our infirmities of the flesh, for the power of the Highest was in him, right? Conclusion: Jesus looked like an earthly man, in every way in form, but He was not a man, he was God, right?

1) From conception, from the cradle to grave, the devil had nothing in Jesus Christ - John 14:30

- His flesh & blood never sinned

- His spirit never sinned (Spirit of God, the Father)

- Jesus could NOT sin, even if he wanted to...

- The power of the Highest shall overshadow thee

- For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily - Colossians 2:9

- The second man is the Lord from heaven - 1 Corinthians 15:47

2) Our High Priest was in ALL points tempted as we are, yet without sin - Heb. 4:14-16

- an high priest which cannot be touch with the feeling our infirmities (wickedness and weakness)

- But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: 10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; - 2 Corinthians 1:9-10

Response #10: 

As Paul tells us,

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.
Hebrews 2:15 NKJV

Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
Hebrews 2:17-18 NKJV

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Hebrews 4:15 NKJV

Jesus Christ was God before He created the universe, and He still is God. He is also now, since the incarnation, a true human being. He was virgin born, however, so that He did not receive a sin nature just by virtue of being born as the rest of us do. And, though tempted "in all points as we are", He lived a completely sinless life, with the result that, never having acquired a sin nature, He was qualified to bear our sins sacrificially on the cross.

Here are some links where these things are explained in more detail:

The Person of Jesus Christ (human and divine) in BB 4A

The Hypostatic Union and Kenosis in BB 4A

The Incarnation and the Virgin Birth in BB 4A

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Hey Bob,

I love the Lord and I will review your links and thank you for putting up with me. I know I can be a little dogmatic about what I think, I understand. As time moves forward and knowledge increases, faith will be tested, with even the very elect. With modern genomics, we understand that 23 chromosomes come from the man (XY male, normal) (in this case the Holy Spirit shadowed over Mary and she conceived of God) and 23 chromosomes come from the woman (Mary the virgin, in this case) to make up the human being, Jesus, our Lord. So, are your saying that Mary, the earthly human being' born in sin and shaped iniquity', but highly favored by God, the Virgin did or did NOT pass her sinful genetics to the baby Jesus in her womb? and 'highly favored' is code for what? OR the Holy Spirit, by a miracle of God (a miracle only to us) by passed the 'sin nature' in Mary (XX female, normal) in her genetics to birth the Savior, sinless. (If I am correct the genetics from Adam, who sinned, were in Mary & Joseph thru the generations of man), We also read, the blood of children birthed (thru the matrix or womb) by women, carry the blood or alleles of both their parents. For we know or have record, Jesus was her 1st born son and other children came after, with Joseph. For every gene, you get two copies -- one from your mom and one from your dad. Even though the two copies are for the same gene, you can get different versions from each parent. These different versions are called alleles.

Response #11: 

I'm no scientist. Mary had a sin nature – all women do. So do all men. That is the legacy of Adam and Eve to us all. However, our Lord is the one exception, and the virgin birth is the reason. The sin nature is passed down through the male, not the female. How that works out in DNA and all the bio-details I haven't a clue; honestly, I'm not sure anyone really does. I've heard some explanations where theologians have tried to explain this in terms of DNA and it seemed to make sense – to them. In my opinion, it's a mistake to do too much in trying to match science (or archaeology) with theology (or the Bible generally). Not only do theologians tend not to be the best scientists (needless to say), but there is also the fact that science is a moving target (whatever we "know" about DNA today will be at least somewhat different tomorrow just as it was somewhat different yesterday), while theology is all there for the knowing – which I suppose makes the fact that so few know so little about it all the more indefensible. In any case, that is why I don't think I have ever personally expressed this principle in terms of DNA, namely, because I don't how the sin nature is passed down from the male, exactly, or why, biologically, it is not passed down from the female, exactly; nor do I know if this is a only a DNA process or if it is even a DNA process. But it is a process that is easily discriminated in terms of the key factors for believers: all other human beings have two human parents and end up with a sin nature; Christ had only a human mother and did not end up with a sin nature (Q.E.D.).

This is of course impossible without God, and, to Mary's question about how such a thing could be, Gabriel said "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God" (Lk.1:35 NKJV). This does not answer all of our questions, but it does tell us all we need to know: Christ was "born holy" as a result of the virgin birth (i.e., born without a sin nature), even if we are not clear about the biological details.

None of this is difficult for God, after all. He created Adam from the ground and Eve from one of Adam's ribs, and the entire process of reproduction is a divine invention. However it works, it only works because that is the way He created it to work; however the "work around" of the virgin birth works, it works because it was decreed in the Plan of God before God make the heavens and the earth so as to work just the way it did. God understands it, even if we don't, and He has told us all we need to know about the critical events, even if at certain times in the history of the development of science things seem not to mesh.

There is always some of this sort of thing in Bible study. Many people are distressed about the apparent age of the universe and its (only) apparent clashing with Genesis chapter one. Knowing what scripture actually teaches about the Genesis gap, however, alleviates most of those perceived problems. The funny thing is that I get more flak from believers who don't want to accept what the Bible actually teaches about the Genesis gap (e.g.) than from secularists who don't believe the Bible at all.

So my bottom line on all this (and all this sort of thing) is that answers are to be found in the scriptures – all the answers which are worth having. If we are able to marry up what scripture says to the current state of biology, physics and/or archaeology, well and good. But only the Bible has the answers we need to know. That's why I've always been reluctant to make these connections: they are likely to be wrong, if only because on the one hand science does not appreciate the existence of the spiritual level (which is far more important than the material level with which it is consumed), and on the other hand memorizing what science has to say today and trying to apply that to scripture is bound to disappoint when science gives (at least somewhat) different answers to the same questions tomorrow.

Please see the links:

Science and the Bible

The problem of science and the Bible

Charles Hodge and Charles Darwin

I hope this not-entirely-responsive answer is of some help.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12: 

Bob,

I appreciate you even took time to respond to my query, this is one of the reasons why You Stand Tall in my book. I hope we know each other a longtime. I imagine the history of the world will continue to unfold as we move forward in time (days of Noah, etc.). I am attempting to prepare myself for the day, when the Holy Spirit will speak thru me to men, by the knowledge and questions I have digested studying the Word of God, then bring it forth in abundance. Something like the disciples when they received the Holy Ghost. People who heard them knew they were not learned men and the glory of God was witnessed. Amen. It is becoming more clear to me, that NO ONE could overcome the devil but Christ in God and God was in Christ.

You bring me joy, Bob...keep it up!

Response #12: 

Thanks!

Question #13: 

Hi Bob

Could you point me to a section in your work or perhaps briefly answer my question? I would like to know if Jesus baptism and subsequent anointing by the Holy Spirit is ‘symbolically’ related the process of becoming a high priest in the old testament. I have heard taught that persons were first ritually washed and then anointed with oil as part of the ceremony of being made a high priest. I was told that this is partly why Jesus said that ‘But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." John 3:15. I am not sure if this ‘teaching is correct since I cannot find this ‘ceremony’ in the OT.

Can you help at all?

Yours in Christ

Response #13: 

Good to hear from you.

While there are many "washing" in the Law as Hebrews says (Heb.9:10), and while the person you cite may have had some of these in mind (e.g., Ex.29:4; 30:19), I don't think that is what is going on here since Christ's high-priesthood is not merely symbolic and temporary but is eternal and "in the order of Melchizedek", being thus in every crucial way different from the Levitical priesthood (as Paul in Hebrews takes pains to show in chapters four through eight. Here are some links to where this subject is treated at Ichthys:

The Formal Inauguration of Christ's Ministry

The Uniqueness of Christ's Baptism

Symbolism of Christ's Baptism

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14: 

You wrote:

'Our sins wash away into the water, then Jesus goes down into the water, and is thus associated with or "baptized into" our sins so as to take them away by this sacrifice of Himself (compare Mk.1:4-5 with 1:9-11). His resurfacing is a picture of the resurrection, and the Father's pronouncement shows that Jesus' work would and did indeed effectively solve the sin problem on our behalf (cf. Rom.4:25).'

When saying 'His resurfacing is a picture of the resurrection, and the Father's pronouncement shows that Jesus' work would and did indeed effectively solve the sin problem on our behalf', do you refer to the pronouncement "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased"? Should this be the case, how does it relate to Jesus' work solving the sin problem on our behalf? Is it a symbol of what was to come - the cross?

Response #14: 

Yes, that is how I see it. This is the equivalent to the Father saying after the fact of Jesus' expiation of the sins of the world when He arrives before the throne of the Father, "Sit down [now] at My right hand until I make your enemies the footstool of Your feet" (Ps.110:1). Thus, Jesus' baptism is entirely different from the other water-baptisms John was charged to perform: it was a preview and a synopsis of the operative part of the first advent, the death of our Lord on our behalf and His "putting death to death" by dying for our sins (2Tim.1:10).

Question #15: 

You wrote: While never symbolically anointed with oil, Jesus was symbolically "anointed" with our sins (the meaning behind His unique water-baptism: cf. Mk.10:38-39; Lk.12:50).

The baptism of Jesus was unique and he was baptized in our sins, but why does He say:

Mark 10:39: And Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized."

Response #15: 

With this analogy, our Lord is referring to the principle of "sharing the sufferings of Christ" (e.g., 1Pet.4:13; cf. Rom.8:17; 2Cor.1:5; Phil.3:10; Col.1:24). We cannot and do not atone for sin (the ultimate part of the baptism of the cross), but we can participate in suffering which glorifies Him as exemplified in the gauntlet of suffering He ran leading up to the cross.

Question #16: 

One more question regarding John 1:31: "I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water."

It sounds as if John's baptism was a condition that needed to be fulfilled for our Lord to be manifested - "so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water". Could you clarify why does John put things that way?

Response #16: 

John's water-baptism was a sign of the coming Messiah (e.g., Is.40:3ff.; cf. Is.4:4). He is the herald who prepares the way for the Messiah and makes it clear to those willing to receive it that the One whom He heralds is indeed the Messiah.

Question #17: 

How do we know that Is.4:4 refers to John the Baptist?

Response #17: 

Isaiah 4:4 does not refer to John, but it does refer to an actual cleansing at the Messiah's return which is directly parallel to and symbolized by the ritual cleansing which John's water-baptism portrayed.

Question #18:  

How to reconcile these two passages?

But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?"
Matthew 3:14 (NASB)

"I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' "
John 1:33 NKJV

The former suggests John didn't recognize the Messiah, the latter seems to suggest the opposite?

Response #18: 

Of course, John was Jesus' cousin, and could not have failed to know the prophecies about Him and the miraculous events surrounding His birth. So I am sure that he "suspected" that Jesus was the Messiah at the time of our Lord's water-baptism (which is reflected by his reluctance), but the proof was the visible descent of the Holy Spirit. So when John says "know" in John 1:31 and 1:33, he means "know with certainty that He was the Messiah until the Spirit's testimony was fulfilled".

Question #19: 

I'm still finding it difficult to envisage this situation. On the one hand John says that he "did not recognize Him" (John 1:31 and 1:33), and yet his objection to baptize our Lord in Matthew 3:14 seems quite strongly expressed, as if he already saw that this was the Messiah?

Response #19: 

I understand your concern. The best parallel I can adduce is that the disciples were with Jesus for over three years and still did not "get it", as is made clear many times, even after His resurrection:

Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.
Mark 6:51-52

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.
Matthew 28:16-17

So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."
John 20:25

So I think there is precedent for "levels" of belief and doubt among those of Jesus' generation who may have accepted some things about Him (i.e., status as a prophet), but had trouble accepting everything (i.e., His Messiahship and His deity, most notably).

Question #20: 

In your reply regarding the necessity of our Lord's sacrifice you wrote:

All human beings were now lost, absent God's intervention. But while the angels who fell were unwilling to return, from the beginning some human beings were willing to accept the gift of salvation. Since there was willingness on the part of some, God in His grace and His perfect love had to provide that gift, and that meant the sacrifice of Jesus for all the sins of the world.

Why is it that God had to provide that gift? Is it to show the perfect balance between judgment and mercy and the ability to reconcile all those who genuinely want to be reconciled?

Response #20: 

In my understanding of this issue, the love of God necessitates that He provide for the satisfaction of His justice in making an eternal relationship available for all who are willing to have that relationship. As I posit in BB 4B, the very act of initiating creation meant the necessity of Christ's sacrifice – after all, God knows and fore-knows all things. Perhaps "had to" is the wrong way to put it. Given His perfect character as He has revealed it in scripture, He was certainly "bound to do" what He did because of the goodness that He is.

Question #21:

Regarding Philippians 2:5-6 you wrote:

A harpagmon is something seized illegitimately, "stolen goods", we might say. Jesus did not consider equality with God "something stolen" because He already possessed it from eternity past.

I) Is my understanding correct: Jesus did not consider equality with God "something stolen" through His kenosis?

II) You also rendered this passage in the following way:

Since He already existed in the very form of God, equality with God was [certainly] not something He thought He had to grasp for.

So here you use "something He thought He had to grasp for", do you mean that divinity was not something He thought He had to win through His first Advent, because He had it?

Both of these interpretations are similar, yet they are slightly different, please clarify.

Response #21: 

Number "II" is correct (and what I've been trying to say). Our Lord is God from all eternity. What Paul is saying in this passage is that Jesus didn't "achieve" divinity; it was not something He needed to "go after" or protect since He is, was, and always will be God – and could not under any circumstances ever be anything else. The great miracle upon which the entire plan of God is based is our Lord's taking on of true humanity in addition to His deity. His kenosis is the temporary limiting of His human nature during the first advent by "walling it off" in certain respects from His deity: i.e., He was not allowed to be benefited by His deity so as not to suffer all He suffered throughout His life . . . and most especially in His bearing of the sins of the world, something no mere mortal could do, but something only a true human being could do.

Question #22: 

A question regarding Colossians 1:15 (NASB):

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

A thought regarding a potential interpretation of this passage occurred to me - could it be that our Lord took a form He would be in until His first advent already when He was creating the world? Long before He became a human being He would appear to Old Testament believers and I thought that if He took that form before the world was created, then the title "firstborn" used in this passage could be taken both literally and referring to His status. So then the order would go:

1. Christ exists as one with the Father from eternity past.

2. Christ takes the pre-advent form and in it creates the world and appears to Old Testament believers.

3. Christ becomes a human being.

Let me know what you think of this.

Response #22: 

To be honest, I think the "born" part has to refer to the incarnation, and, specifically, to the virgin birth when our Lord became a living human being through the imparting to His uniquely formed human body of a human spirit. This new "form" is absolutely permanent, and it means, when properly considered, that He, that God, has "cast His lot", so to speak, with us in this world in an unalterable way. God could have created a trillion universes and could have dealt with them in whatever way He chose to; but God becoming man by taking upon Himself the permanent form of a human nature is, in addition to being breath-taking, a decisive step from which there is no return. Aside from His death on the cross (for which blessed provision of deliverance the incarnation was absolutely necessary), nothing more clear underlines God's boundless love for us. Temporary manifestations of His Person in the Old Testament do not compare, in my opinion, because they were just that: temporary.

Question #23: 

We spent some time on the empathy of our Lord in Hebrews 4:14-16 and Hebrews 2:16-18, but recently I came across a view (although I cannot now remember the origin of it, probably one of the commentaries) which could shed more light on this issue. What do you think about an interpretation according to which the "tempted in that which He has suffered" from Hebrews 2:18 refers to our Lord's pre-cross temptation in Garden of Gethsemane ("My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.")?

Response #23: 

I am of the opinion that these words of our Lord were spoken for our benefit (see the link). Compare: "And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this" (Jn.11:42 NIV). The impression that our Lord had some kind of "crisis" in the garden, which I do not believe in the least, may stem in part from the false interpolation found at Luke 22:44 "[And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground]". That is not part of the Bible.

Another problems with this interpretation is that the reason for temptation being brought up at all in these two passages in Hebrews is to show that our Lord can sympathize/empathize with us when we fall into temptation (Heb.2:18: "He is able to aid those who are tempted"; Heb.4:15 "just as we are"), because He was similarly tested (albeit without sin); however, the cross and what He did for us on it are not areas where we are tempted; indeed, this blessed "burning without being consumed" until the sins of the world were atoned for are completely beyond our ken in terms of proper appreciation.

Question #24: 

What specifically is the benefit here to us of our Lord's prayer? Is it to signify the difficulty of His sacrifice?

Response #24: 

Yes, that is it precisely (see the link: Gethsemane in BB 4A). Even with the help of all the NT revelation, most people have only a dim appreciation of what it cost our Lord to die for us, to "burn and not be consumed" like the bush Moses saw, until every sin had been atoned for. The fact that our Lord had never expressed any such thing before lets us know something of the magnitude of what He was about to do in accomplishing our salvation (see the link in BB 4A: "The Spiritual Death of Christ").

Question #25: 

Q&A regarding Hebrews 2:10:

Only through Him, and in Him, and by following Him where He has gone (Heb.6:19-20; cf. Heb.2:10 [Greek]; 12:2), can we too enter into the heavenly holy of holies for fellowship eternal with the Father, the Son, and the Spirit forevermore (Matt.27:51; Lk.23:43; Heb.10:19-20).

Why did you add [Greek] after Hebrews 2:10?

Because without looking at the Greek it is unlikely that anyone is going to realize that it is Christ who is "bringing many sons to glory".
Hebrews 2:10 (NASB)

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.

I thought that it was the Father who is "bringing many sons to glory", could you clarify this? Isn't "Him" at the beginning of the verse referring to the Father?

Response #25: 

That is what many translations (and interpreters) wrongly assume. Here is my expanded translation of the passage:

For it was fitting for [the Father] to make complete through sufferings Him on whose account all things exist and through whom all things exist, namely, the Captain of their salvation, even Him who has led many sons to glory (i.e., resurrection), [our Lord Jesus Christ]. For the One who sanctifies and those who are sanctified belong to One [Father], and for this reason [Christ] is not ashamed to call them His brothers, as He says: "I will proclaim Your name to My brothers. In the midst of the assembly I shall praise you." and elsewhere, "I [too] shall put My confidence in Him (i.e., the Father)," and elsewhere, "Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me".
Hebrews 2:10-13

Question #26: 

I took a look at this passage in Greek, where my knowledge is of course very limited, and there is one aspect of your rendering which I'm not entirely clear about - you attribute the part "on whose account all things exist and through whom all things exist" to our Lord, but in Greek it follows directly autoi which refers to the Father, so it seems these words could be related to the Father rather than Son?

Response #26: 

The fourth word in the verse has dropped out of some mss. and is not printed in the text of most critical Greek editions: text should read "autoi auton". This makes the matter clear: autoi (the Father); auton (the Son) = "fitting for the Father" . . . "THAT the Son . . .".

Question #27: 

Regarding kenosis you wrote:

We may therefore further discern that the "barrier" between the two natures which we are calling kenosis was not something imposed "from above" by His deity. Rather it was a conscious limitation undertaken by His humanity in consonance with His deity, a fact which makes our Lord's successful completion of His life without violating the restrictions of kenosis all the more amazing.

Since our Lord existed as God from eternity past and became a human being after history has been decreed, could it be said that the origin of kenosis lies with the deity of our Lord, as this is how the decision was made, and in His humanity our Lord adhered to this decision during His advent?

Response #27: 

It is certainly true that everything that happened during the first advent was decreed before God initiated creation. In terms of practicalities, it is still also true that our Savior had to make this decision to restrain Himself in His humanity at all times. As the temptation in the wilderness makes clear enough, even Satan was aware that Jesus could have (theoretically) violated the ground rules the Spirit had set out for Him for this preparatory test and "turned stones to bread". I am sure that a day never went by when our Lord did have to use His will to keep the kenosis in force.

Question #28:  

In Christology you wrote:

Possessing a perfect a knowledge and a perfect understanding of the Bible and what it really meant, and being taught by the Spirit, Jesus, a prophet in His own right, the Prophet in fact (Deut.18:15 with Jn.1:25; Acts 3:22-23), could say without hesitation or doubt or reflection that everything He taught was truly from God.

Could you explain the reference to John 1:25? In this passage there seems to be a distinction made between Christ and the Prophet:

John 1:25 (NASB)
They asked him, and said to him, "Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?"

Response #28: 

These questions were actually asked and reflect the (sad) state of appreciation of the truth contained in the Old Testament scriptures by John's contemporaries. The Prophet is clearly the Messiah, not a different person altogether. The fact that contemporaries could imagine a distinction is not to their credit. But then, as John also says in his first chapter: "He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him" (v.11 NKJV).

Question #29: 

Such interpretation of Mark 8:23-25 crossed my mind, and then I found it when reading through the commentaries:

Mark 8:23-25 (NASB)
Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, "Do you see anything?" And he looked up and said, "I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around." Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly.

Pulpit Commentary:

And this he did that he might administer his power in increasing measures, as the faith of the recipient waxed stronger; that so he might gradually kindle greater hope and desire in him. It may be that the spiritual condition of this blind man was one which specially needed this gradual method of treatment. Our Lord was a wise and skillful Physician. At first he healed him in part, as one who imperfectly believed; that he who as yet saw little with a little sight, might believe more perfectly, and so be healed at last more perfectly; and thus by this miracle Christ teaches us that for the most part the unbeliever and the sinner is by degrees illuminated by God, so as to advance step by step in the knowledge and worship of God. "By this miracle," says Bede, "Christ teaches us how great is the spiritual blindness of man, which only by degrees, and by successive stages, can come to the light of Divine knowledge." The experiences of this blind man in gradually recovering his eyesight show as in a parable the stages of the spiritual change from absolute darkness to glimmering light, and thence to bright and clear vision. Cornelius a Lapide says, "We see an example of this in children and scholars, who must be taught and instructed by degrees. Otherwise, if the master, impatient of delay and labour, seeks to deliver all things to them at once, he will overwhelm their mind and their memory, so that they will take in nothing; as wine, when it is poured into a narrow-necked vessel, if you attempt to pour in the whole at once, scarcely any will enter, but almost all is wasted." A Lapide adds the well-known Italian proverb, "Piano, piano, siva lontano."

The growing faith seems like a reasonable explanation to me, consistent with the rest of the scripture, as our Lord performed miracles where there was faith (Matthew 9:27-30), and didn't perform them against unbelief (Matthew 13:58). And so this man could have had a glimmering faith which warranted partial healing, and when this was performed, he came to fully believe and his sight was fully restored.

Let me know your thoughts.

Response #29: 

I'm not sure I'd agree. Clearly, our Lord did many miracles in many ways, and while we have been blessed to be told some things, as John says, "there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written" (Jn.21:25 NKJV). Some miracles took great effort. In "Sunday school" I imagine we all have an idea of our Lord blithely waving His hand and having any sort of miracle He desired take place without any trouble. But how about this:

Then they brought to Him one who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, and they begged Him to put His hand on him. And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue. Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened." Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly.
Mark 7:33-35

What our Lord did in healing the sick took effort. It was tiring. And oftentimes it was "hands on". The difficulty level sometimes had to do with the problem in question or the demonic opposition too, after all (cf. Matt.17:21: "this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting"). We are not privy to know why some things could be done at a distance, some things only in person, and some things took more effort. But I don't see any indication of lack of faith being the problem. And, after all, with our modern perspective we are blessed now to understand that it really is harder in some cases to restore those who have a complete visual or aural deficit: there is a perceptual problem as well as a physical one. This incident demonstrates our Lord healing both aspects of the man's blindness, and also, more importantly, reminds us of just how difficult our Savior's life and ministry were – so we won't take that for granted. It started hard (His preparation), got harder (His ministry), and had to push through the hardest resistence (His "passion") for Him to be in a position (on the cross in the darkness) to die for our sins (words cannot express what He did for us in atoning for our sins).

Question #30: 

Luke 18:18-19 (NASB)
A ruler questioned Him, saying, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.

Could we interpret our Lord's words in the following way:

"Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone and you don't see God in me, so you shouldn't use this title".

Response #30: 

Yes, I think that is essentially it. For me, the critical point is our Lord's calling attention to the hypocrisy of His interlocutors. They are addressing Him as if He were of God, and that would include being who He said He was, the Messiah, the Son of God, God incarnate. In reality, they do not think He is God and are only using the term "good" in an empty fashion for flattery's sake.

Question #31:

You wrote:

Also, Jesus did keep the Sabbath -- according to its true purpose. He did not refrain from doing things that were necessary or good to do in order to accommodate His actions to the flawed and often highly legalistic understanding / teachings of that generation.

And also:

I understand this interpretation (i.e., "Some believe that our Lord did not break the Sabbath as given by God and taught in accordance with the Law, but rather he broke the human, Pharisaical specifications of it. What is your take on this?") but it seems to me to be a bit of a "dodge". After all, scripture says that He "broke the Sabbath" (not "the Sabbath as wrongly construed by Pharisaical legalism").

I'm not sure how to reconcile these two statements - so did Jesus keep the Sabbath according to how it should have been kept, but broke the Pharisaical interpretation of it (which seems to contradict the second statement), or did he break both (which seems to contradict the first)?

Response #31: 

My point in the second response is that scripture says that our Lord "broke the Sabbath", but we also know that He perfectly carried out all of the commandments. So in one sense, yes, He carried out the true requirements of the Sabbath; on the other hand, He certainly did "break" the Pharisaical understanding of it. The reason why I consider the formulation in #2 flawed is that 1) it fails to consider the direct wording of scripture and 2) fails to take into account that our Lord's actions by the convention of the day, and 3) fails to acknowledge that by a certain literal interpretation there was actual "breakage" (akin to our Lord's "breaking" of the permission to give a certificate of divorce). There may not be in fact too much difference in substance between my position and the "dodge", but the distinction is important at least in terms of the issue of "Sabbath keeping" where we want to be very specific about how we phrase things: according to what most Sabbath-keepers teach and do, our Lord did "break the Sabbath" – although one always has to be quick to add that everything He did was perfectly and sinlessly done . . . and critical to fulfilling the plan of God.

 

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