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Jesus Has A God, Therefore He Cannot Be God

My material for this post is largely drawn from John Gill’s exposition of John 20:17

In order to prove that Jesus cannot be God, Muslims draw attention to John 20:17 in which Jesus clearly says He has a God.  How, they ask, can God have a God ? Here is John 20:17

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

The answer to how Jesus can have a God lies in recognising that Jesus is God in Human form. Jesus was truly human. Being human, Jesus can have a God.

Can God come to Earth if He wants to ? Of course He can.

If God came to Earth could he have flesh and bones and choose to eat and sleep ? Of course He could. Therefore God can come to Earth in human form.

But God would not stop being divine just because He came to Earth in human form. He would still be God. But He would also be a Human who can eat and sleep and do all the things that Humans do.

So if God came to Earth as a human he would retain his divine nature but also have a human nature. He would have two natures during the time He was on Earth: A Divine nature and a Human nature.

Can God Limit Himself ?

God can control Himself in much the same way that I control myself, for example, when I play with my children I choose to limit my strength so that I do not hurt them when I play with them. In a similar way, when Jesus came to Earth he decided to temporarily limit Himself in certain ways. Jesus still had divine attributes but he chose not to use some of them during His time on Earth while He walked with us as a truly human being.

The self-limitation of Jesus does not diminish God because all the Divine Attributes remain fully active in The Father and The Holy Spirit, the other two Divine Persons who share the single Divine Life.

Identification and Dependence

During the period of His earthly life Jesus chose to make Himself dependent on The Father just as all of humanity is dependent on Father God. In this way, Jesus identified with humanity. He became one of us and shared our limitations and dependence on God while yet retaining His divine nature. For this reason of dependence it is possible for Jesus to say that He has a God. Jesus made Himself dependent on The Father, and so like all with a human nature Jesus was dependent on The Father.

Jesus had two natures: a divine nature and a human nature. He retained possession of His divine nature, but chose not to use most of his divine attributes. He lived His life on Earth constrained by the limits of human nature which he took on Himself when he entered His earthly existence.

This does not mean that Jesus never exercised His Divine Attributes or power while on Earth. For example, Jesus healed people and did other miracles by His own power. (See John 5:19, Matthew 8:26-27, Matthew 14:25-32).

The passage in question, John 20:17, thus contains a second reason why it is possible for Jesus to talk about ‘My God and Your God’ and this reason relates to the truth of Jesus’ identification with humanity.

The reality of identification works two ways. Because Jesus shared our humanity, He identifies with us, but humanity also identifies with Jesus. This means that however The Father chooses to treat Jesus in relation to His humanity then you and I obtain the privilege of being treated by The Father in the same way that The Father treats Jesus.

This identification means that since the Father has declared Jesus Not Guilty of sin, then we also can be declared Not Guilty of sin if we identify with Jesus, i.e. choose in faith to accept Jesus as our representative before The Father. Furthermore, because Jesus was resurrected from the grave and from death by The Father, then we also can be, and will be, resurrected from death and the grave (Barzakh) if we choose to identify with Jesus. Again furthermore because Jesus ascends to The Father, those who identify with Jesus and become part of the Umma of Jesus will also obtain the privilege of ascending to heaven with Jesus to be in the presence of The Father.

This truth of humanity’s identification with Jesus, how The Father rewards the Umma of Jesus with the same privileges as Jesus is reported in a truncated form In The Qu’ran Surah Al-Imran:3:55.

“O Jesus, indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve and make those who follow you [in submission to Allah alone] superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection.

It was this third aspect of identification, that of Ascension, that  Jesus was specifically referring to in this passage of scripture including John 20:17. Jesus had been declared Not Guilty by The Father after His ordeal on The Cross, consequently had been resurrected from death and the grave and was just about to ascend to The Father.

The woman wanted Jesus to stay behind on earth with them and clung on to Him but Jesus told them something greater was in store for humanity, namely His ascension, which all believers in Him, all His Umma would have the privilege of doing also. But He, Jesus, had to ascend first to make the way for them.

The statement of Jesus ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” teaches His Umma that His ascension makes our ascension possible because of His identification with humanity and our identification with Him.

Amen! Thanks to be to God an Our Lord Jesus Christ !

So, Jesus statement I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God is indeed, as Muslims state, a clear indication of Jesus’ humanity. This humanity came about because Jesus voluntarily chose to make Himself dependent on The Father (see Phillipians 2:5-8).

The statement my Father and your Father…my God and your God is also a powerful statement of truth regarding Jesus’ identification with humanity, by which humanity can be declared Not Guilty before God and obtain resurrection and ascension, which is entry to Paradise.

The Nature Of God

God exists as three persons who share a single divine life or essence. Since God exists as three persons, one (Jesus) may choose to come to Earth while the others remain in heaven. Additionally, the One who comes to Earth can choose to make Himself dependent on the One(s) who remains in Heaven. In this way, Jesus can truly call The Father His God whilst yet retaining His own divine nature.

The self-limitation of Jesus does not diminish God because all the Divine Attributes remain fully active in The Father and The Holy Spirit, the other two Divine Persons who share the single Divine Life.

Because there is only one Divine Life, God is One.

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