Something for all the heavy thinkers…

Right then, the nature of Christ and all that.
Had a fascinating discussion the other day over lunch with 2 fourth years at college. One of them, Craig, was preparing an essay on Jesus as a child centred around one question:

Was Jesus, as a baby, like this:
Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.

Did the baby Jesus, at the age that my little girl is – 12 weeks) uphold the universe by the word of his power?

It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? Was the infant Jesus still the sustainer of the Universe? If so, how was He doing it? Conciously or unconciously?

Let me wibble a little further.
Luke 2:41 to the end, Jesus in the Temple. Luke is presenting Jesus as a replaying of Samuel and Eli’s sons in 1Sam 2. Where the comparison previously was between the Sons and Samuel, now it’s between the teachers and Jesus. Luke is at pains to point out that…

Luke 2:42 And when he was twelve years old, …

Jesus wasn’t even of age. So here is the minor Jesus who is presented as much wiser than the mature teachers in the temple.
The only troubling verse is
Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

but it could equally be rendered,
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and age and grace, in the presence of God and men.” which doesn’t require us to insist that he was growing in self awareness.

The other passage is the great kenotic statement in Phil 2:7

Philippians 2:7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

how does Christ empty himself? Does He empty His knowledge? Does He empty His awareness?

No!!! The answer is right there in the text – he empties himself of the right to be on the throne. He becomes a servant.

Anyway, I’m going somewhere with all this.

If we say that the 2 month old Jesus is sustaining the Kosmos by his powerful word then how can we have a limited Christ? How can the infantile Christ be infantile in mind but sustain all things by a powerful word?
There are a number of solutions;

i He does it subconciously. This simply doesn’t rest easily but it might be right
ii There is an eternal Word and an incarnate Word. But this is severely dodgy. You end up with a seperation in Christ or have to argue an adoptionist position.

So I’m left to conclude that the 12 week old Christ was somewhat different to my little girl, Charis (ouldjr).
As His parents held Him in their arms He was actively sustaining everything by His powerful word. Conciously allowing Himself to be humbled and limited in a human body while fully aware of what was going on around Him.
Mindblowing.

But, think of it this way.
Which is the bigger gulf?
The gulf between deity and humanity?
or the gulf between an adult man and a baby?

I think it’s the former.

Your thoughts?

Leave a Reply

7 comments on “Something for all the heavy thinkers…

  1. Lovely, that. Thanks for sharing your reflections on it. Especially in the light of your fatherhood, and looking at your own baby.

    It was, actually, a wonderful recapitulation of the Church’s refutation of Nestorius back in the ol’ 5th century. The origin of the term Theotokos (Birth-Giver of God) is to preserve precisely what you just laid out.

    I haven’t had any kids, myself, but for whatever reason I really enjoy your reflections on your joy and wonder as a new parent. And I think Charis is a lucky girl, who will know that she is loved.

    – Joseph

  2. I could add to the mix Mark 13:32 – “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” So we say the Son is equal with God… and there can’t be two Gods that know different things… yet there is something the Father knows that the (at that time, mortal) Son doesn’t? But Nestorianism is no solution either because often, especially in John, Jesus refers to himself as the Son — they are not two distinct persons.

    It’s tough describing all this stuff, it really is.

    • I think one would think that the Son working in a human medium would be limited in some fashion, as to knowing? The idea that Jesus was unaware of certain details, or that he even (in a certain sense) “grew up” really isn’t troublesome to me.

      • The magic words are “according to his human nature.”

        The facts of Scripture force us to define a single person with two distinct and complete natures. That doesn’t necessarily mean we can imagine what it would be like to be inside that person’s head.

    • mark 13:32 is a good example of why the classic philosophical approaches to defining divinity don’t work.
      On all three approaches, omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience, the incarnate Christ fails the test. And yet He is fully God.

      Which begs the question, what does it mean to be divine?

Leave a Comment - but please pay careful attention to the house rules