How did Jesus in his incarnation still possess omnipresence?


Spent some time in Israel about a year ago. I think I took this shot at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Click to enlarge.

Um, it’s a question I got from a list. It’s a bit tough. Why?

Well, without exception all Christians believe that Jesus Christ is, was and always will be God. The word incarnation is talking about Jesus, God, taking on human form and coming to dwell amongst us in the flesh. Omnipresence by definition is the property of being present everywhere, it’s a property possessed by God, which is why David rhetorically asks the question in Psalm 139:

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?”

Well David, you can’t. But you knew that, that’s why it’s rhetorical.

So, if Jesus is God then he must be omnipresent right? But if he was a man, dwelling amongst us, how did that work out?

Stumped? Did you really think that all the things of God were going to be simple?

Um, now I might completely mess this up. I’m comfortable being wrong, correct me.

Jesus is both God and man (Colossians 2:9). As a man he has a place. Right now it’s in heaven at His father’s right hand (Hebrews 1:1 – 3). But as God he can simultaneously be everywhere. Maybe an example? Matthew 28 is the end of the story. Things are wrapping up. Jesus is saying final farewells before He ascends into heaven. He, the man, will no longer be on earth. But at the same time, He, God, gives this finally goodbye promise:

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.”

I am with you always. Jesus in heavan and Jesus everywhere. It’s called the hypostatic union of Christ and can be summed up as “Jesus is both fully human and fully divine, that there is no mixture or dilution of either nature, and that He is one united Person, forever.”

No I don’t understand all of it either. But I do believe it.

What about you? If you’re technical by nature then: veiled or emptied?

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5 thoughts on “How did Jesus in his incarnation still possess omnipresence?

  1. There are certain parts of his divine nature that were subdued to some degree when he became a man. One is the example you give about omnipresence. Another would be his limited omniscience. He grew in wisdom and yet as fully divine wouldn’t he have all knowledge even as a baby? Yet he didn’t because he grew in it. So there are parts of his divinity that undergo some sort of change or at least a limiting of them for a short period of time in order for him to really experience life as “fully human.” Really hard to wrap your mind around but there are several examples of this in the Gospels.

    • Hi Matt,

      That’s a classic “emptied” view of the coexistence of Christ’s deity and humanity. But that seems to be at odds with logic and Scripture doesn’t it?: Can God be limited in any way? At any time? Surely the answer is no?

      I’m thinking that “veiled” is a more palatable substitute. So Christ gave up nothing (Philippians 2:1 – 11 is talking about Him stepping down from heaven) which makes Colossians 2:9 even more powerful, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,”

      Took so long to reply so I had a chance to think for a bit. Um, am I smoking my socks?

      By the way I’m really enjoying your blogging at the moment. You’re really firing on all cylinders.

      Thanks for reading what I write and moderating a bit for me. Keeps me on my toes ;).

  2. Does not God choose to “limit” Himself all the time? Voluntarily and willingly – mercy is in itself a limiting of His exercise of justice, no? That is just in regard to His divine attributes – when we look at Jesus’ incarnation, that was another voluntary, willing limitation. When Jesus grew wearied (John 4:6) that would certainly seem to “violate” what we know about the eternal nature of God – I don’t think we would say that God’s “rest” on the seventh day was because He was just plain tuckered out and needed a nap.

    When God terminates His self-imposed limits on justice, for example, when common grace for the wicked terminates, we all know it won’t be a “pretty” thing, but it will be worthy of worship.

    • Hi there,

      God is just. There’s nothing He does to contradict that ever. Jesus died as a substitute for the sin of the unrighteous. Therefore His calling some out by mercy isn’t in conflict with that justice because the price is duly paid.

      I know I’m preaching to the choir here but remember Matthew 8:24, “…Jesus Himself was asleep.” Jesus was, as you said, “tuckered out and needed a nap.” But here’s the thing, the disciples sweat and fret for a bit wind and a few waves and eventually wake Him up in a spin not knowing what to do. So what does He do? “Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.” Absolute power over nature.

      Now this is important. I’m not saying that His weariness was an act. It was real. He was tired. Scripture says so. But at the same time He still had divine omnipotence over nature and all in it. He is God. Dual nature. All God, all man. No dilution of either. Veiled rather than limited.

      Am I loosing it?

      In Christ,

      Mark

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