Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32 are cited by some Bible students to suggest that Christ is not God because the passages say that the Son doesn’t know the day and hour the destruction of Jerusalem, the end of the age, and His coming back will be. In Series # 1-2, I’ve suggested some ideas and illustrations to explain away a seeming difficulty. We should recognize that God’s power, authority and knowledge don’t automatically come out when confronted.
Please note the following events:
- When the Devil entered the Garden of Eden and succeeded in seducing Adam and Eve, God didn’t immediately come out with His power to overcome the Devil’s control over humanity. We know that God castigated the Devil and promised the coming of the woman’s seed who will inflict a deadly wound on the Devil’s head. It took thousands of years before the Messiah came. God’s power didn’t immediately come out to destroy the Devil’s work. Our God has allowed the operation of human free will all throughout human history. Is it the lack of God’s omnipotence? No.
- God’s sovereignty over Israel was challenged by the Pharaoh, but it took painful years and days before Pharaoh’s control over God’s people loosened. God’s power didn’t immediately come out to deliver Israel from Pharaoh’s bondage. God waited for the formation of a strong resolve from Israel’s collective psyche to break away from Egyptian bondage and to serve the true God.
If our Lord Jesus Christ said the “Son did not know the day and hour but it is the Father only who knows” this declaration should not demand that God’s knowledge should immediately be revealed. When Christ didn’t bring out His knowledge when confronted, it didn’t mean He didn’t know it. He gave out what we may call a “relative negation.”He wanted the blossoming of the disciples’ complete trust in God and in the Son of God by being ever watchful. Relative negation means that something is negated, but it doesn’t mean a complete lack of it. Amos 5:23 and 1 Cor. 1:17 have negations. But the negated things are not completely eliminated.
Let’s analyze a second position that there are times Christ’s deity is referred to and at other times Christ’s humanity is the one pointed to. Let’s ask where the humanity of Jesus Christ in the following instances was:
- Colossians 1:15-16 says that our Lord Jesus Christ created the things invisible and visible, powers, authorities, principalities and thrones; if these invisible creations came into being before Genesis 1:1, was the act of creating done by the humanity of Jesus Christ? No, not His humanity. Christ is man, but His humanity is not involved here. It was His persona as Deity that created all things. So we could ask: If Christ is man only, was Christ man during the creation of the invisible world?
- John 1:1-3 says that all things were created by Jesus Christ and nothing was created without Him. If this creative act took place on or before Genesis 1:1, where was the humanity of Christ then? Christ is man, but His humanity is not involved here. If Christ is man only, where was Christ’s humanity when all things were created before Genesis 1:1?
- John 1: 29-30 says, “… Look! There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Soon a man is coming who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before I did.’” (NLT) Did the humanity of Christ exist long before John the Baptist was born? No, not His humanity. It was His persona as Deity that existed eternally in the past. So we ask, “If Christ is man only, where was Christ’s humanity when He existed before John was born?”
- John 3:11-13 says, “I assure you, I am telling you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe us. But if you don’t even believe me when I tell you about things that happen here on earth, how can you possibly believe if I tell you what is going on in heaven? For only I, the Son of Man, have come to earth and will return to heaven again.” (NLT) Is it the humanity of Christ that speaks here that has seen things and happenings in heaven? Is it the humanity of Christ that is referred to that came down from heaven and will return to heaven at the time our Lord Jesus Christ spoke in John 3? No, not His humanity. It was His persona as God. We ask, “If Christ is man, was there a humanity of Jesus when he came down from heaven?”
- In John 8:56-58, Christ Himself declared: “’… Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad. The people said, ‘You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham? Jesus answered, ‘The truth is, I existed before Abraham was even born!’” (NLT) What is about our Lord Jesus Christ that existed long before Abraham was born? Was it His humanity? No, not His humanity. It was his persona as God. We ask, “If Christ is man only, was Christ human before Abraham was born?”
- In John 17:5, “And now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.” (NLT) Our Lord Jesus Christ speaks as a person and He claims He shared the Father’s glory before the world was created. Was it the humanity of Christ that shared the Father’s glory before the world begun? No, not His humanity. It was His persona as God. We ask, “If Christ is man only, did his humanity possess glory before the world was created?”
- In John 6:38, our Lord Jesus Christ said, “For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do what I want.” (NLT) This statement was uttered some two years before Christ ascended to heaven as recorded in Acts 1. Is it the humanity of Jesus Christ that came down from heaven? No, not His humanity. It was His persona as God. We ask, “If Christ is man only, is it the human Christ that came down from heaven before his birth?”
We could cite many more passages where our Lord Jesus Christ spoke and referred to His deity. It should also be reasonable to argue that Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32, when referring to the Son, points to His humanity and not His deity.
Another way of looking at Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32 is that the “negation” is not a lack of knowledge but that as the teacher, He should not divulge it. God wants to put the burden on the shoulders of the disciples to watch for the signs of the times and be alert all the time. What was necessary was for the disciples to ever be watchful. It is likened to an examination period, when a student asks the teacher-monitor, “Sir, what’s the answer to number 5?” The teacher-monitor would say, “I don’t know.” The negation is not a lack of knowledge, but the teacher means, “I should not divulge it.” It’s up to the student to know the answer. The teacher’s negation is not lack of knowledge and it is not a lie. It is an answer that puts the burden on the student.
Note that in Acts 1:4-8 the disciples wanted to know the exact period when the Kingdom of Israel would be restored. Jesus again didn’t give a clear answer. Not that He didn’t know the day and hour of an event. But that it was not time to divulge it. History unfolds and it’s up to the disciples to flow with time ever watchful and ever loyal to God. ### -E.Tanicala