Jesus of Nazareth feels, thinks, desires, and acts identically with the eternal Logos, but under the conditions, with the possibilities, and within the limitations of the earthly life that He has fully assumed, with all humility and responsibility.
It was Jesus’ choice to be like us, His divine nature notwithstanding. The Church would not have ever begun to believe what it believes about Jesus Christ were He not thinking or expressing those things about Himself. Were Jesus not to know that He is the Son of God incarnate, the formulation of such a doctrine would be absurd. Such a requirement should also apply to the productions of contemporary authors such as Bart Ehrman, for example. As tempting as it may be from a literary point of view, a thesis about Jesus should be consistent with His Person and work.
Because, if Jesus was aware of His divine identity, then any other assumption is a lie.
Ehrman believes that the divinity of Jesus became a dogma in the early centuries of the church. The author believes that he can demonstrate, based on the event of the resurrection, how an obscure prophet from a rural area of Galilee, crucified for crimes against the state, came to be considered equal to the only God. Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? Not for Ehrman.
Both the church traditions and the theses of some authors who empty these traditions of authority in order to then offer their own imaginary content must be confronted with the thinking of Jesus. The origins of the incarnation doctrine need to be sought in the self-consciousness of Jesus and in the expression of this consciousness, recorded by the closest witnesses.
|At the Council of Nicaea (325 AD), the church affirmed the divinity and reality of the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. The fifth-century councils would make statements about the person of the Saviour in relation to His two natures. The person of Jesus is the same as the person of the pre-existing Logos. This means that One of the Trinity became incarnate, remaining essentially the same in His divine nature.|
When did it start?
There are many opinions. Some believe that Jesus was aware of His divine nature from the earliest years of his childhood. Others believe that Jesus became the Son of God by adoption at baptism in the Jordan River, or after the resurrection. The answer is not without stakes: divinity by nature is not equivalent to an adoption.
It goes without saying that Jesus was aware of His human nature to the extent that all people become self aware as they develop. But we wonder if Jesus was equally aware of His divine nature. Before answering this question, we must make three clarifications. By accepting the mantle of humanity, Jesus temporarily gave up the activation of His divine nature, so the consciousness of His divinity refers to His Person, His specific way of life, His character and actions (Colossians 1:15). The second clarification is that the divine Person worked by human nature.
Divinity by nature is not equivalent to an adoption.
Therefore, the consciousness of His divinity is present, but directly proportional to the development of natural human abilities (Luke 2:40, 52; Hebrews 2:10). The third clarification: the human nature of Jesus is similar to ours, but not identical (Romans 8:3). He fully assumed the human degradation that was a consequence of Adam’s fall, but not the intrinsic human passion for sin (practically, He was the second Adam). This does not tarnish the authenticity of His humanity, but rather reminds us of how God created man.
The first proof that Jesus realized His divinity is His personal holiness (John 8:46). There is a relationship between His identity and His undisputed righteousness. He represented a different kind of humanity. Jesus did not intend to be different; He was just being Himself.
A second proof of this self-awareness is the ability of the boy Jesus to reject human traditions, which had replaced the word of God. Jesus was formed according to Scripture, so He was able, from an early age, to teach even the elders of the people (Luke 2:46-47). Thus He was able to resist the sociocultural pressure to form His own perspective on existence in general, in a strict and limited context such as Nazareth. This way, He managed to understand God’s Word deeply at a very young age.
Another argument: in the social conditions of His childhood, His moral conduct made Jesus particularly vulnerable. He suffered more than any other child. Here is an answer for those who have wondered if the lack of predisposition to sin was convenient to Jesus. This characteristic of the nature of Jesus has brought unimaginable temptations to us. Satan has brought upon Him all possible punishments, sadness, mockery, injustice, and possible injury. However, Jesus was constantly gentle, benevolent, forgiving.
How could Jesus resist these trials without being aware of His mission?
Jesus was poor (2 Corinthians 8:9) and helpless. However, His presence impressed and helped: “His was a divine character. She [Mary] saw Him sacrificing Himself for the good of others. His presence brought a purer atmosphere into the home, and His life was as leaven working amid the elements of society. Harmless and undefiled, He walked among the thoughtless, the rude, the uncourteous; amid the unjust publicans, the reckless prodigals, the unrighteous Samaritans, the heathen soldiers, the rough peasants, and the mixed multitude. He spoke a word of sympathy here and a word there, as He saw men weary, yet compelled to bear heavy burdens. He shared their burdens, and repeated to them the lessons He had learned from nature, of the love, the kindness, the goodness of God.”
YHWH’s return to Zion
Michael F. Bird firmly states that Jesus recognised his identity as the God of Israel (YHWH, or Yahweh), who had returned to Zion to restore His people and fulfil the expectations of the prophets. This was the purpose of Jesus’ work (Matthew 19:28).
The basis of Jesus’ statements about the coming of the Kingdom of God are texts like Isaiah 40:3, 9-11; Isaiah 52:7-10; Ezekiel 34:7-16, 22-24. Jesus knew that the day of deliverance had come (Matthew 11:1-6; Luke 7:20-23), and He saw not only the Messianic King, but He knew that, in His person, YHWH was finally returning to Zion. This is not about adoptionism, but about an identification of the person of YHWH with the person of Jesus Christ.
Also, the spiritual authority of Jesus is unprecedented (Mark 1:22) and His prerogatives are divine.
He has full authority, even over demons (Mark 3:27; Matthew 12:29; Luke 11:21-22). He can also forgive sins and cleanse the temple (Mark 11:27-33), He is Lord of David (Mark 12:35-37) and of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27-28), He is greater than the temple (Matthew 12:6), and He rephrases the commandments on the basis of His own authority (Matthew 5:21, 27, 33, 38, 43).
Chapter 19 of the Gospel of Luke is a description of YHWH’s return to Jerusalem. Luke 19:1-10 describes the search and rescue of the lost (Zacchaeus and his house). Unlike the prophets, who urged sinners to seek God (Amos 5:4), Jesus seeks the marginalized in the way YHWH returns to shepherd the lost of Israel (Jeremiah 31:10; Ezekiel 34:8-10). The same idea is presented in the parable of the talents (Luke 19:11-17): YHWH returns!
Son of man
This expression is often used by Jesus (Luke 9:58; Matthew 8:20, Luke 7:33-34; Matthew 11:18-19) in order to express His identity. The “Son of Man” refers in Daniel 7:13-14 to a divine being in the presence of God, and even worshiped with God. Jesus clearly identified with this messianic figure to state that God Himself, who returns to Zion, manifests Himself by His human nature: “Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am’, said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven'” (Mark 14:61-62).
After seeing what Jesus thought about Himself, we will study one of the closest witnesses of His life’s opinion on the subject. The apostle John also believed that the Son of Mary was the true God. His gospel is perhaps the most concrete expression of this conviction. The apostle John plainly verbalizes what was already assumed by the synoptic gospels, namely, that Jesus has a unique filial relationship with the God of Israel and possessed an authority equal to that of God.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known” (John 1:18). The first verse speaks of the embodiment of the Word, the second clarifies the identity of this Person.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”.
According to Hilary of Poitiers (d. 367), “It seemed to [John] that the name of Son did not set forth with sufficient distinctness his true divinity, unless he gave an external support to the peculiar majesty of Christ by indicating the difference between him and all others. And so he not only calls him the Son but adds the further designation of the Only Begotten. In this way he cuts away the last prop from under this imaginary adoption. For the fact that he is Only Begotten is proof positive of his right to the name of Son.”
Therefore, the divine nature is inaccessible. Through incarnation, the Son reveals the glory (character) of the Father. The Son is one of a kind in that matter. Only He is born—we are created. Birth (as a way of possessing the divine nature) is an exclusive attribute of His. Because of this birth, the Son is the only one able to see and understand the divine nature. The Son is God, because His nature is the same as that of the Father. However, there are not two Gods, but One. The Son has always been in the Father’s heart (there was no time when He wasn’t), He fully knows, has the same power as, and is equal to, the Father.
The Lord Jesus Christ was aware of His divinity as well as His humanity. The origins of the incarnation doctrine should not be sought in an evolution of the church’s perspective on Jesus Christ, but in the Lord’s Self-consciousness.
The practical conclusion is that we can contemplate the fullness of the Godhead through the character and actions of the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:9; Matthew 3:17). His divine character is infinite in goodness and beauty, which is why Jesus is the most fascinating being in our universe. We are tempted by beauty and most of the time we satisfy this need idolatrously, illicitly, and incompletely. When we are so tempted, let us seek instead the immortal beauty of Jesus. In addition, we need recognition to such a great extent. We need to be loved and to love for our guilt to fade away. With Jesus we will find true relief, because He is truly God, descended upon us.