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If Jesus is God, then why didn’t He know the day or hour of His return?

Today’s question is something that many people are talking about these days—the timing of the return of Jesus Christ. Specifically, if Jesus is God then why didn’t He know when He would come again while He was on earth?

The Scripture that sparks this question is Matthew 24:35-37, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.”

Let’s start with the biblical truth that Jesus was both fully God and fully man. He was divine and human in the same person. The theological term for the coming-together of the two natures of Christ is called the hypostatic union. Jesus Christ was the only person that ever lived who had two natures merged into one person—all of God and all of man in Him. Scripture testifies to this truth in various places like Colossians 2:9, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.”

So, if Jesus was fully God then why didn’t He know when His second coming would take place? In order to answer our question today we need to look at a critical passage that Paul wrote to the church at Philippi. As he wrote to the church about the humble spirit of service and love that believers should exhibit toward one another, the apostle gave us one of the most powerful passages in all of the New Testament about the incarnation of Jesus Christ in Philippians 2:5-8. Paul tells us how Jesus “…emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, being made in the likeness of men…” as the King of Kings took on human flesh to save us from our sins. Let’s zero in on a couple of words—"emptied Himself” and ask what did Jesus empty Himself of when He was on earth? What we can say is that as a man, Jesus cooperated with the limitations of being a man. This would explain verses like Luke 2:52 that says, “Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Therefore, at this point in His ministry He could say He did not know the day nor hour of His return. This does not diminish the deity of Jesus but simply affirms His full humanity.

However, after the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is a different matter. Following His resurrection, with His full glory restored to Him, He knew all things as the glorified King of Kings! Remember, BEFORE His death and resurrection Jesus said the Father alone knew the day and hour of His return. But AFTER His death and resurrection His omniscience was restored to Him. Think of all the things Jesus was able to do after His resurrection—He could appear and disappear at will—He knew all things—He could transport Himself anywhere without walking—amazing! It was Peter that made a statement about the omniscience of Jesus on the shore in John 21:17b, “And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love you.” There was no rebuke from Jesus because it was a true statement after His death and resurrection.

My friends, only God knows where the finish line of history is and exactly when He will come back. Let’s “look for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” (Titus 2:13).

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