Sunday, April 12, 2015

Why Was Jesus 'Short-sighted?'

I read an article in a Denominational magazine an article on Jesus and the limits of His knowledge of past and future events. It has been an issue wrestled with by theologians for centuries as it deals with Christ’s twofold nature. Essentially we have to come to the point where we admit it is beyond our intellect to fully grasp. So, once again, it becomes a faith issue.

A question arises in my mind, however, over the following statement in the article. ‘Any understanding of Jesus must be based on the fact that Jesus was a man of His own time’. And also the statement, ‘His knowledge was but the knowledge of His time’. 

I understand that Jesus did not know all that the Father had in mind for Him or the future. This is evident from Mark 13:32 where Jesus admitted that He, as the Son, didn’t know when the ‘fig tree’ would blossom. I understand this limitation on Jesus was part of His living the life of dependence on and faith in His Father’s will. He lived out what He calls us to do.

The question about Jesus knowledge being influenced by the era in which He lived has some serious implications. Does this mean He is fallible in some of His statements? If so what? Does it mean we in this 21st A.D. century can know more than Jesus did whilst on earth? To accept that is to undermine His authority and the inspiration of His prophetic ministry. Also, under a ‘cloud’ would be His endorsement of and the credibility of the Scriptures He believed in. Jesus upheld and defended Genesis to Malachi including creation, Adam and Eve, marriage, Noah’s flood, Sodom and
Gomorrah, (amongst other matters) all of which today are considered either unscientific or outdated. In fact, Jesus was emphatic about the importance of what Moses compiled in the first five books of the Bible. ‘If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?’

May I suggest we gain a clue to Christ’s apparent lack of knowledge on certain matters from John 5:19-20,30 and John 17:8. In John 8:28 is a good summary: ‘Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realise that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but speak these things as the Father instructs me.”’ (NRSV) He was in tune with the Father and shared what the Father revealed to Him at that time. He wasn’t doing His own bidding. Was this an expression of Jesus being the prophet also? Now this puts us into a difficult position if we dismiss aspects of what Jesus taught as simply being due to the knowledge of the time. It makes the Father also fallible. It makes 21st century man wiser than the Father, the Son and their Scriptures. In fact, it gives a person an excuse to ignore what he doesn’t like on the grounds that Jesus didn’t know what we now know.

The mystery of Jesus as Emmanuel (God with us – Son of God) and the second Adam (Son of Man – King of Israel) at the same time remains. His testimony as to His teaching must be two fold. A diligent study of His Bible and a dependence upon listening to His Father must have undergirded what He taught and did. I believe we can build our lives, faith, and hope upon Jesus as being the infallible teacher, the one we call Lord and Saviour. The apostle Peter writing to the suffering Church wrote: If you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.’ 1 Peter 2:20-21.

As Jesus trusted His Father in everything, especially the crucifixion event, He set us an example for our daily life. His words ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you’ (John 20:21 NRSV) gives us the foundation for our faith when we are also ‘short-sighted’ in our going. We may not like what we experience, we may not understand events, we may be haunted by unresolved issues, how are we to handle them? Jesus set the example.



©Ray Hawkins.

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