“blessed be the name of Jehovah.” His blessing of God’s name was unconditional, irrespective of context, and without reason.
The Lord Jesus Being God, Why Did He Pray to God of Heaven?
By Zhen Xin
We all know that the Lord Jesus was incarnated and performed the redemptive work, and all who believe in the Lord affirm that the Lord Jesus is the Savior. However, the Bible records that after the Lord Jesus was baptized, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon the Lord Jesus like a dove, a voice said: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). This is the Holy Spirit bearing witness that the Lord Jesus is God’s beloved Son. Besides, the Lord Jesus prayed before the crucifixion, saying: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). These all prove that the Lord Jesus is clearly God’s Son. So, here is the question: Is the Lord Jesus really God or the Son of God? He is God, but why did He of heaven?
1. Is the Lord Jesus Really God or the Son of God?
In fact, God didn’t say in Genesis that He had a son, nor did Jehovah God say such thing in the Age of Law. From these we can know that there is only one God, that there is no Father-Son relationship to speak of. In fact, when the incarnate Lord Jesus came to do the work of redemption of mankind, which is, God became the Son of man appearing and doing work among men, He initiated a new age in which God came personally into the human world to live alongside man. Thus, with great adoration, we called the Lord Jesus as Christ, the Son of God. At that time, the Holy Spirit also bore witness to the fact that the Lord Jesus was the beloved Son of God, and the Lord Jesus called God of heaven Father. As such, we believed that the Lord Jesus was God’s Son, and the notion of this Father-Son relationship was formed. Then is the Lord Jesus really the Son of God or God Himself? Let us read some scriptures. In John 14:8, Philip asked of the Lord Jesus: “Lord, show us the Father, and it suffises us.” The Lordto Philip: “Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip? he that has seen me has seen the Father; and how say you then, Show us the Father? Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak to you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwells in me, he does the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake” (John 14:9-11). The Lord Jesus said very clearly: “he that has seen me has seen the Father.” From this we can see the Lord Jesus is the appearance of God Himself. The Lord Jesus didn’t say that He and God have a Father-Son relationship. Rather, He said: “I am in the Father, and the Father in me.” “I and my Father are one.” According to the Lord Jesus’ words, we can confirm that the Lord Jesus is God Himself, that there is only one God and that there is no Father-Son relationship to speak of. It’s just because we don’t understand the truth of the incarnation that we think the Lord Jesus is God’s Son. A spiritual book says: “The meaning of incarnation is that God appears in the flesh, and He comes to work among man of His creation in the image of a flesh. So, for God to be incarnated, He must first be flesh, flesh with normal humanity; this, at the very least, must be true. In fact, the implication of God’s incarnation is that God lives and works in the flesh, God in His very essence becomes flesh, becomes a man.” Put simply, the incarnation is just God clothed in flesh and become a man, and the incarnate God is actually God Himself.
2. Since the Lord Jesus Is God Himself, Why Did He Pray to God of Heaven?
There is a mystery in the Lord Jesus’ calling God of heaven Father in His prayer. When God is incarnated in the flesh, God’s Spirit is hidden within the flesh, and the flesh itself is unaware of the Spirit’s presence. Just as we cannot feel our spirits within us. What’s more, God’s Spirit does not do anything supernatural within His flesh. So, even though the Lord Jesus was God become flesh, if God’s Spirit had not spoken and testified to God Himself, the Lord Jesus could not have known that He was God’s incarnation. That is why the Bible says: “neither the Son, but the Father.” Before the Lord Jesus began His official work, He lived within normal humanity. He really didn’t know that He was the incarnation of God, for God’s Spirit within the flesh did not work in a supernatural way but worked within normal confines just like any other human. So, naturally, the Lord Jesus would pray to the heavenly Father, which is to say, the Lord Jesus prayed to God’s Spirit from within His normal humanity. This makes complete sense. When the Lord Jesus formally performed His ministry, the Holy Spirit began to speak and proclaim, bearing witness that He was the incarnate God. Only then did the Lord Jesus realize His true identity, that He had come to do the work of redemption. However, when He was to be nailed to the cross, He still prayed to God the Father. This shows that the substance of Christ is absolute obedience to God. A spiritual book says: “When Jesus called God in heaven by the name of Father as He prayed, this was done only from the perspective of a created man, only because the Spirit of God had clothed Himself as an ordinary and normal man and had the exterior cover of a created being. Even if within Him was the Spirit of God, His exterior appearance was still that of an ordinary man; in other words, He had become the ‘Son of man’ of which all men, including Jesus Himself, spoke. … However great the authority of Jesus on earth, prior to the crucifixion, He was merely a Son of man, governed by the Holy Spirit (that is, God), and one of the earth’s created beings, for He had yet to complete His work. Therefore, His calling God in heaven Father was solely His humility and obedience. His addressing God (that is, the Spirit in heaven) in such a manner, however, does not prove that He is the Son of the Spirit of God in heaven. Rather, it is simply that His perspective is different, not that He is a different person. The existence of distinct persons is a fallacy! Prior to His crucifixion, Jesus was a Son of man bound by the limitations of the flesh, and He did not fully possess the authority of the Spirit. That is why He could only seek the will of God the Father from the perspective of a created being. It is as He thrice prayed in Gethsemane: ‘Not as I will, but as you will.’ Before He was laid on the cross, He was but the King of the Jews; He was Christ, the Son of man, and not a body of glory. That is why, from the standpoint of a created being, He called God Father.” “Jesus prayed from the perspective of the flesh. Since He had put on a flesh of such normal humanity, it is from the perspective of the flesh that He said: My outer shell is that of a created being. Since I put on a flesh to come to this earth, I am now a long, long way from heaven. For this reason, He could only pray to God the Father from the perspective of the flesh. This was His duty, and that which the incarnate Spirit of God should be furnished with. It cannot be said that He is not God simply because He prays to the Father from the perspective of the flesh. Though He is called the beloved Son of God, He is still God Himself, for He is but the incarnation of the Spirit, and His substance is still the Spirit.”
These words of God are very clear. When the Lord Jesus was working among men, it was actually God’s Spirit clothed in flesh as a man working and appearing to man. No matter how the Lord Jesus was expressing His word or praying to God the Father, His substance was divinity, not humanity. God is Spirit and is invisible to man; when God becomes clothed in flesh, we can only see flesh and can’t see God’s Spirit. If the Holy Spirit had directly borne witness to the fact that the incarnate Lord Jesus was God, man wouldn’t have accepted it. At the time, no one even knew what it meant for God to be incarnated, and they just came into contact with God’s incarnation and had very little understanding, so they never imagined that this regular Son of man would be the embodiment of the Spirit of God, the appearance of God in the flesh. Though the Lord Jesus expressed much of His word in the course of His work, brought man the way of repentance and manifested many miracles, which fully revealed God’s authority and power, men still failed to recognize from the Lord Jesus’ word and work that He was God Himself, the appearance of God. Instead, they only acknowledged the Lord Jesus as a prophet or called Him Master. So, God just worked according to the stature of people at that time, and He didn’t make it hard for them; the Holy Spirit merely testified within the understanding of the people at that time, and called the Lord Jesus God’s beloved Son, temporarily allowing men to think of the Lord Jesus as God’s Son. This way fit in better with people’s conceptions and was easier to accept. Since, at that time, the Lord Jesus was only doing the work of redemption, no matter how people called the Lord Jesus, the important thing was that they accepted the Lord Jesus as the Savior, had their sins remitted, and were thus qualified to enjoy God’s grace. So, God’s Spirit bore witness to the Lord Jesus in this way for it was more suitable to the stature of the people at that time. If we understand these things, we will not see the Lord Jesus as the Son of God for His prayer to God of heaven, but will be clear that no matter what position the Lord Jesus prayed from, He is our Lord and our God.
You may be interested in this article: Who Is the Lord Jesus Christ? Is the Lord Jesus God?
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