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If Jesus was God, Why did He have so Many "Limitations?"

Chapter: 10.09
(Section 10: Understanding Salvation)
Copyright Michael Bronson 1997, 1999, and 2000

Many people say Jesus couldn't be God because He was so "limited" when He was here on earth. Are these limitations proof Jesus wasn't God or were there reasons for these limitation?

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In the previous chapter (Is Jesus God?) I talked about how many people have a hard time believing Jesus is God. One reason for these doubts is the "trinity." People have a hard time understanding how there can be only one God and still have three people in the Godhead.

Another thing that gives people a hard time is the "limitations" Jesus had when He was here on Earth. They wonder how Jesus could be God if He was so limited. Following are some of the limitations they refer to:

Jesus was weak physically (in comparison to what you would expect from an Almighty God).

There were many things Jesus didn’t know.

If Jesus was God, why was He "talking to someone else" when He was praying.

Jesus couldn’t keep Himself from being murdered.

How could God "die?"

Are there reasons Jesus was limited or should we consider His limitations substantial proof He isn’t God? I believe Jesus is God and I also believe there were fundamental reasons why He was limited here on earth. To help you understand what I mean, I want to give you a hypothetical situation.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, God wanted to get a closer look at what it was like to be a human; He wanted to see firsthand what it was like to walk in our shoes for a while. Let’s say He wanted to know what it felt like to be limited in His powers and abilities. Let’s also say God wanted to accomplish a specific task while He was here on Earth.

The first question we need to examine is, "Could God actually do this?" I think it is safe to say an Almighty God is capable of doing whatever He wants. The next question we need to look at is, "How could He do it?" Would God have to go on a "leave of absence" from Heaven? Would He have to abandon His throne in Heaven in order to take on human form? Would He had to put someone else in charge (such as a powerful angel) while He was gone?

I have an analogy that might help you understand this. Let’s say I’m doing a puppet show for a children’s party. I’m hiding behind a wall and my two hands are in the puppets. The kids, with a limited view, see two characters performing.

Although the kids see two identities, there is actually only one person. Both identities are an extension of me. They are not all of me, but they are part of me. Likewise, God can bring an extension of Himself down to earth. This extension would not be all of God, but it would be part of God. In other words, God would not have to take a "leave of absence" from Heaven in order to have an extension of Himself come to earth.

Take a few moments to think about how God could accomplish this. What would be necessary for God to perform this task? The first thing He would need to do is provide Himself a human body. This, of course, would not be a big-deal; considering God creates over 200,000 bodies a day. The next thing He would have to do is put part of Himself in the body. Considering the fact that God is able to create life out of nothing, I don’t think this would be a difficult task for Him.

Now, we have a situation where God is still functioning as "God Almighty" in Heaven, but is also functioning as a human (or God-man) here on earth. This God-man would have a variety of self-imposed limitations. He would have a body that will grow old and die (or could be murdered). There will be many things He doesn’t know. He would have an inherent knowledge He is part of the Godhead, but otherwise, His knowledge would be very limited.

Although this God-man knows He is part of the Godhead, He is limited in His communicative skills. He has to communicate in the same primitive way as other humans. As part of His self-imposed limitations, He is forced to communicate with the Godhead the same way as everyone else. (Look at the note below for more information about Jesus "praying to someone else.")

Apart from experiencing the limited life of mortal man, God also has a specific task He wants to accomplish. He, therefore, gives Himself the ability to perform certain miracles in order to show others this is a mission from God. Tragically, halfway through His life, a riotous crowd murders Him.

The God-man’s death, however, was not a mistake; it was actually part of His plan. In order to accomplish His mission, the God-man needed to be murdered. The rioters didn’t take His life; He gave it up freely.

Does the death of the God-man’s body mean God actually "died?" No, of course not. Physical death is the separation of the person’s soul (their true eternal identity) from their temporary physical body. When our physical bodies die, we are not "dead." Likewise, when the God-man’s body died, He continued on living.

In many ways this scenario parallels the life of Jesus. This scenario addresses many of the questions people have about Jesus. It shows Jesus didn’t have to be all-knowing. It shows the "death" of Jesus does not distract from His divinity. It provides us a better understanding of the trinity. It also explains why Jesus was "talking to someone else" when He was praying.

Our view of God’s realm in incredibly limited. We are only able to see a minute fraction of Him. We should not be surprised if He came to us in the limited form of a human. The fact Jesus was limited does not mean He wasn’t divine. Remember, the Bible says it is impossible for mortal man to look upon God in His full glory. Therefore, if God were to come down to visit us, it would have to be in a very limited manner.

Side Note on "Jesus Praying to Others"

There are two things we need to keep in mind concerning Jesus’ prayers:

First, I think many of Jesus’ audio prayers were done for our benefit. I think Jesus used His audio prayers to teach us more about Himself and the Godhead. There are a couple places in the Bible that talk about how the audio communications between Jesus and the Godhead were for the benefit of those nearby. In John 12:30, Jesus said the voice from Heaven (God) was for their benefit, not His. In John 11:42, Jesus was raising Lazarus from the dead. He said His prayer was for the benefit of those who were around Him.

Second, our audio prayers are not the full essence of our prayers. Romans 8:26 says, "We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." Our audio prayers are not the full communication being sent to God.
We have no idea what type of internal communications Jesus had with the Godhead. I believe even if the disciples could have heard His complex communications with the Godhead, I’m sure it wouldn’t have made any sense to them.

Computer Internet modems are a good example of limited communication. Since traditional telephone lines were never designed for computer use, modems are very slow. Modems are literally thousands of times slower than the internal speed of the computer’s CPU. It’s like having a 100 lane super-highway merging down to a single lane dirt bike path. Traffic almost comes to a standstill. Likewise, human communication compared to God’s communication is very simple baby talk.



Other Chapters in this Section

A Case for Christianity
"Got Milk?" -An interesting way of presenting the gospel
A Walk on the Wild Side
Delusions of Grandeur
Good Intentions
Making up for Past Wrongs
Misguided Commitment
Grace: Unmerited Favor (an emotional example)
Is Jesus God?
Reference 1: Verses Showing the Trinity
Reference 2: Verses Showing Jesus is God
If Jesus is God, Why did He have so many Limitations?
Is Hell for Eternity?

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