As Christians, we read the scriptures and do our best to understand what is going on within the text. However, sometimes we must analyze the texts with more theological depth to understand what is being said. This is a good practice, by the way. This practice of thoroughly reviewing the text will bring us to a better understanding of the Word.
Did Jesus know EVERYTHING? When reading the New Testament, we find some examples where Jesus had limited knowledge (Mark 13:32, Luke 2:52, Mark 5:31). Do these few examples demonstrate Jesus’ lack of omniscience? Or is there an explanation that includes Jesus, the Son of God, a person of the Trinity, being omniscient?
At first glance, these scriptures appear challenging to reconcile with the attribute of omniscience. How can Jesus be omniscient if he doesn’t know who touched the fringe of his garment (Mark 5:31), was growing in wisdom (Luke 2:52), or doesn’t know the time of his own return (Mark 13:32)? These appear to be descriptions of a man with limited knowledge. However, there is more to Jesus than meets the eye.
God is one being comprised of three persons. Christian theology refers to this as the Trinity. Jesus (the Son) is one person of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.) Jesus is not inferior in the Trinity to the Father or to the Holy Spirit, but are in equal and perfect union in one being as God. We see in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” When continuing on to John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” “Word” is translated from the Greek word “logos (λόγος)”. Within this scriptural context, logos (λόγος) is defined by Lexham Bible Dictionary as “a concept word in the Bible symbolic of the nature and function of Jesus Christ. It is also used to refer to the revelation of God in the world.”
So, if Jesus was God in human form, what explains the scriptural examples of ignorance in specific cases? Let’s draw back on the word ‘human‘ for a moment. Jesus occupied a human form and walked, talked, ate, went to the bathroom, etc… like every other human. Given this attribute of Jesus’ existence, Jesus has a human nature. On the opposite side of the coin, Jesus was also the Logos. He was God incarnate. Jesus has a divine nature with the divine attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, etc…too. Upon a close reading of scripture, is there a theological framework that accurately explains Jesus’ human and divine natures in a scripturally compatible way?
Theologian Wayne Grudem promotes a wise and informed theological insight that makes the most sense of the scriptural data at our disposal. Grudem writes in Systematic Theology (Second Edition),
“This distinction of two wills and two centers of consciousness helps us understand how Jesus could learn things and yet know all things. On the one hand, with respect to his human nature, he had limited knowledge (Mark 13:32; Luke 2:52). On the other hand, Jesus clearly knew all things (John 2:25; 16:30; 21:17). Now this is only understandable if Jesus learned things and had limited knowledge with respect to his human nature but was always omniscient with respect to his divine nature, and therefore he was able any time to ‘call to mind’ whatever information would be needed for his ministry. In this way we can understand Jesus’ statement concerning the time of his return: “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32). This ignorance of the time of his return was true of Jesus’ human nature and human consciousness only, for in his divine nature he was certainly omniscient and certainly knew the time when he would return to the earth.” (page 698)
The purpose of this article was to dive into a topic that is rarely discussed and often misunderstood. As Christians, we should recognize the true implications of Jesus having a human nature. He experienced all the same temptations we did. He dealt with annoyances like us. He probably ate some rotten fish and had a stomach ache. While Jesus could’ve drawn on his divine nature 100% of the time, there is no scriptural evidence to support that claim. It appears that Jesus drew on his divine nature only when it was within his will to do so in order to advance his ministry.
There is no way one person can fully comprehend the nature of the Trinity or Jesus’ two natures. I suspect that our minds aren’t fully capable of understanding such things. However, we can understand to a degree regardless of whether we fully comprehend. The answer to the question of whether Jesus knew everything is a definitive yes, but we should understand how we got to that answer rather than settling for a simple “yes.” In this case, the complicated answer is far more interesting.