Did Jesus Know The Hour?

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”

Matthew 24:36

Critics often interpret this passage as evidence that Jesus is not omniscient and therefore cannot be God. However, this interpretation overlooks important aspects of Christian theology and the context of Jesus’ words.

Jesus’ statement about not knowing the hour reflects his human nature during his time on Earth, not a denial of his divinity. Christians believe in the doctrine of the Incarnation, where Jesus, while fully divine, also took on human limitations. This statement doesn’t contradict his divinity, but rather affirms his humanity.

Jesus is no mere man. Although he was on earth as a man, he existed from eternity uncreated. The Prophet Micah wrote around 700 BC, “But you, Bethlehem…out of you will come forth…One to be ruler over Israel, One whose origins are of old, from the days of eternity. (Micah 5:2) This verse is a prophecy of the birth of Jesus (i.e. his human nature) in Bethlehem and yet is also a declaraton of Jesus’ divine nature as one existed “from the days of eternity.”

The Apostle John wrote, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14). John is explicitly identifying Jesus as God, the Creator, who had come down to earth, He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him.” (John 1:10) Jesus himself said, “I have come down from heaven…” (John 6:38)

In John 17:5, Jesus said something bewildering, “And now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world existed.” This affirms that Jesus existed before creation itself, but even more “blasphemous” is his claim that he shared the same glory with the Father! How can any man ever say this?

“Jesus could not truthfully or sanely say this if he were not Yahweh himself, equal with God the Father…”

David Guzik

Pay careful note to what else Jesus was saying. “The glory I had with you…” It implies that Jesus used to posses the same glory as the Father, but at that point, he no longer had the same glory. Why? What happened?

The revelation is here:

…Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself…

Philippians 2:6-8

Notice the two natures of Christ – the divine nature and the human nature. This is also what the Apostle John alluded to in John 1, “The (divine and eternal) Word became flesh and dwelt among us (as a human)…”

Jesus said:

“All that the Father has is mine…”

John 16:15

This includes ALL the divine attributes. If Jesus was not God, his statement would be blasphemy. Jesus possesed the same glory, the authority, the power, the omniscience, the omnipresence and the omnipotence of the Father. This is what Jesus claims in this verse.

However, when Jesus came down to the earth as a man, HE EMPTIED HIMSELF of all the glory, all the authority, all the power, all the omniscience, all the omnipresence and all the omnipotence. He came as an ordinary man in the form of a servant. “I didn’t come to be served but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom.” (Mark 10:45). The reason Jesus came was to accomplish the work of salvation for humankind. Hence the last words of Jesus on the cross, “It is finished”, meaning salvation had been accomplished and provided for you and me. That is why, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. Whoever rejects the Son will not see life. Instead, the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36). It is only through him that we can have access to eternal life and heaven.

When Jesus said that he didn’t know the hour, it was not because he was ignorant. It was not because he was a mere man like us. But because he had willingly and voluntarily let go of that knowledge. That is why on the night before his crucifixion, he said, “And now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world existed.” (John 17:5). He knew his mission was about to be accomplished and after that he would take up again all the divine glory and attributes he had let go off before his incarnation.

You see, when Jesus came down to earth, as a man for 33 years, he also took on all the physical limitations of a human body. He took on a physical body like ours. Before his incarnation, he was invisible. For 33 years, he was visible. Before his incarnation, he was omnipresent (all-present), omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing). For 33 years, he was not omnipresent. He could only be at one place at one time. For 33 years, he was not omnipotent. He could experience tiredness, hunger and thirst, pain, and yes, even death. For 33 years, he was not omniscient. The gospel records that, “he grew in wisdom and knowledge.”

Isn’t this a contradiction of the nature of God? So how can this be God? Let’s use an analogy to help us grasp the Bible is saying.

Imagine there’s a great and mighty king. Powerful and glorious, and perfect in his reign. One day, he gets up from his magnificent throne, takes off his crown and his royal robes and puts on the clothes of a peasant. Then he leaves his palace and goes out into the city with nothing in his hands. He lives on the street for 3 days, sleeping on the pavement and eating whatever scraps he could find. My question: Is he still the king? Of course! That’s his identity. Just because, he “emptied himself” of all his kingly priviledges for 3 days on the street does not mean he is no longer king! When he was sitting on his throne, he had all the power, all the authority, all the riches. When he humbled himself and took on the form of a peasant, he voluntarily gave up all these, but temporarily. After 3 days, he would return to his palace and resume “the glory” he had before. (remember John 17:5?)

Thsi is why the Bible teaches, “…him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 2:9)

Notice, the verse teaches that he was “lower than the angels” for a little while. What does it mean except the fact that he was actually HIGHER than the angels! Who is higher than the angels anyway but God himself? But he came as a man, lower than the angels. For a little while. And we know it was 33 years.

The temperature on the centre of the sun is 15,000,000 °C. Yet, when this same light and heat reaches the earth, it “limits” itself to a mere 10°C to 30°C, depending on where you are on earth. Does it mean we are experiencing a different sun? Of course not! Just as sunlight passes through the earth’s atmosphere and comes to us in a form that we humans can experience without being destroyed, the divine Word passed through a woman’s womb and appeared in a form that humans can perceive and see and touch and experience. That’s how the invisible became visible. The unapproachable light became approachable. The One who was outside of time and space stepped into time and space in the humble surroundings of Bethlehem.

After his death and resurrection, he once again took up all that he had emptied himself from. All the glory, all the power, all the knoweldge. Yes, including the knowledge of the hour. Peter and the disciples understood this. He said, “…Lord, you know all things…” (John 21:17).

In Matthew 28:18, we read Jesus declaring that he now possessed ALL authority in heaven and earth. Just before his ascension, the disciples asked Jesus again about the hour.

So when they came together, they asked Him, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6) Notice his response. This time he didn’t say he didn’t know. As one who has ALL authority in heaven and earth, he knew. He said to them, “It is not for YOU to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7). Notice that he didn’t say, “It is not for US to know.”

In John 16:30, They said to Jesus, “Now we know that you know ALL things and do not need anyone to question you.” What was Jesus’ response? Did he deny it? No. He affirmed his omniscience and told them, “Do you finally believe?” (John 16:31)

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