What Jesus Knew
In 1985, Bible scholar Robert Funk founded what was then called 'The Jesus Seminar' — a group of 50 Bible scholars and 100 non-ordained individuals [some of whom had no background in Biblical studies or knowledge of how the Bible was compiled]. This group took it upon themselves "to decide their collective view of the historicity of the deeds and sayings of Jesus of Nazareth." The group concluded Jesus was nothing more than "an itinerant Hellenistic Jewish sage and faith-healer who preached a gospel of liberation from injustice" and "a mortal man born of two human parents, who did not perform nature miracles nor die as a substitute for sinners nor rise bodily from the dead." [Wikipedia.com]
Curiously, this group of supposed 'Bible scholars' rejected any testimony of Jesus about Himself found in the Scriptures as 'inauthentic' and unworthy of serious consideration. [Yet they will testify to us about themselves and who they are and we are supposed to accept their word?] I will not add to the abundant criticism of the lack of true 'scholarship' amongst the Seminar's members, nor their biases and prejudices against the Scriptures or even anything connected to Christianity; that has all been said by better men and better critics.
One of the most blatant denials of this group was that of the deity of Jesus, or of any actual claim by Him to be deity. [Remember, they excluded any testimony Jesus made about Himself, so that would render it impossible to verify His claim to be deity; everything else would be hearsay evidence.] But who better to hear such a claim than from the one who says He is God's Son? Of course, we are not asked to merely believe it without testing the claim; Jesus Himself said, “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true” (John 5:31); essentially, Jesus was saying that if there was no other testimony than His own words, then it would not be enough.
But Jesus then pointed to the testimony of John the Baptist (John 5:33-35), the works of God that Jesus Himself had demonstrated (John 5:36), the testimony of God Himself (John 5:37, 38), and the testimony of the Scriptures (John 5:39-47). No, we are not expected to simply accept His words without evidence, but we are expected to consider the claim and the evidence He provided to verify that claim. The apostle John pointed to just the miracles of Jesus as evidence enough to believe the claim (cf. John 20:30, 31) but, in the end, we have to decide to believe or not.
But why not think about what Jesus said or, better yet, what Jesus knew about Himself? For today, we will accept the testimony as true regarding who He is [the Christ and Son of God] and, with that, consider what He knew about Himself.
To do this, let us consider what the apostle John said about Jesus during His last moments with the apostles, right before He took on the attire of a servant and washed their feet. There, John writes, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded” (John 13:3-5). From this, let us note three things that Jesus knew.
The Father Had Given All Things To Him. Early in the ministry of Jesus, He had looked on the cities who had rejected Him and noted the surety of their punishment, in the end (cf. Matt. 11:21-24), and then noted, “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father” (Matt. 11:27). Here, near the end of His earthly life, Jesus again points to this fact, but what did He mean?
Right before He ascended into heaven, Jesus told the apostles, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18); the apostle Paul would later echo this when he wrote to the brethren of Ephesus, “He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church” (Eph. 1:22); and he would remind those in Philippi that God “has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).
What Jesus knew was that He had been given all authority as the King who would rule over His Kingdom — the body of all the saved — and would rule until “the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:24). When He comes again, it will not be to establish that Kingdom, for over it He now reigns! He knew this even before He was crucified because it was always in God's plan.
He Had Come From God. Jesus had said before, “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me” (John 5:30), and, “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38), and, “I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me” (John 7:29). For any Bible 'scholar' to make the statement that Jesus never claimed to be God's Son, that He "didn't know" He was deity, or that He was anybody more than a mere man is to show complete ignorance of the Scriptures, or a dishonest heart.
What was the point of John saying this? Well, Jesus once said to those who said God was their Father, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me” (John 8:42). The point is, if anyone then claimed to love God, they would have loved the One whom God sent: Jesus! [The same is true today.]
He Was Going To God. When Jesus said this, it was literally hours from the time when He would be taken away to be tried in a mock trial and eventually crucified; but Jesus knew this even before He left heaven! Jesus knew when He came to earth that He would be here for a limited time, and that He would one day leave the earth and return to the Father for a time before coming again to bring the saved with Him back to heaven to be eternally.
That Jesus did go back to the Father was taught by the apostles the very first time the gospel was preached, after Jesus ascended into heaven (cf. Acts 2:30-36). The writer of Hebrews noted that Jesus has “passed through the heavens” and serves as our High Priest to speak for us when we “come boldly to the throne of grace” (Heb. 4:14-16) in our prayers to God the Father. In heaven, Jesus “lives to make intercession” for His disciples (Heb. 7:25). Again, Jesus knew this because it was always God's plan!
Knowing now what Jesus knew, what does this mean to you? Remember, Jesus knew all of this even before He left heaven, yet He was willing to leave all the glories of heaven, the glories of being deity, the place of pure holiness and righteousness, and come to this sin-filled world to die for our sins, though He Himself was sinless.
How will you respond? — Steven Harper