What are the worst problems you have ever suffered in life? No matter how horrendous, none compare with what Christ faced in the Garden of Gethsemane. Listen to this lesson to learn how Jesus prayed during His adversities. Hear about the hypostatic union and how Jesus has two natures in one Person eternally. Learn the answer to the question of whether Jesus had a will of His own in His humanity. Recognize that in order for us to know God’s will we must study God’s Word.
Click the notes link below to view Dr. Dean's “Harmony of Jesus in Gethsemane” document.
Jesus’ Will and the Father’s Will
Matthew 26:36–46; Mark 14:32–42; Luke 22:39–46
Matthew Lesson #172
August 20, 2017
“Father, we’re thankful for Your Word. We’re thankful for what You have revealed to us about our sinful state, the fact that we are born spiritually dead without hope, without real life.
“The only solution is Your grace redemption solution. That You have provided a Savior who died for us, who paid the penalty for sin that by simply believing and trusting in Him, we have eternal life, believing that His death was on our behalf. Father, we pray that those who have this new life in Christ will be challenged to grow and to mature.
“Father, as believers we face many different types and categories of testing, adversity, difficulty. None rises to the level of that which our Lord faced as He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, facing what would take place the next day as He would be made sin—that He would receive the imputation of our sin, that He would bear in His own body on the tree that which was our penalty.
“Father, as He faced that and as He prays, help us to understand what is going on here with Him in the garden and how it teaches us how we should pray.
“We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles to Matthew 26:36–46. This morning and for at least one more week, we’re going to be in Gethsemane with our Lord thinking through what the implications are for us, especially in relation to prayer.
He is facing what we can never understand. Luke uses the phrase “agony,” and we’ve seen in the previous studies the word PERILUPEO. Other words that talk about the emotional impact that this had in His humanity, are words that we don’t often associate with our Lord.
That in His humanity, He recognized what was going on, but the wholeness of who Jesus is as a person is important to understand I want to review a little bit of that today as we go through our study, so that we can better understand what the implications and applications are.
I’ve always had one problem as a result of very common application that comes out of this passage at the end of Jesus’ prayer. He says, “Father, not My will but Your will be done.” That is often used almost as a dismissive term in prayer by many people who mean well, but is that being used in the same way that Jesus is using this?
In the disciples’ prayer in Matthew 6, Jesus is telling the disciples in response to their question on how to pray—He says as part of that prayer, praying to the Father—“Thy will be done.” Doesn’t stop there ... goes on. What does it say next? “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
What’s He praying for? He’s praying that the Kingdom will come on the earth and will manifest the will of God on the earth as well as in heaven. So we have to be careful not to just chop out phrases and take them and apply them because it sounds good.
Now we always understand that when we pray, there is a reality that we are humbled, we are submitting to the will of God, but it’s almost as if we’re going to say “Father, I desperately need “A,” “B,” or “C.” I’m in this situation, whatever it may be
Then after we pour our hearts out to the Lord and present these petitions and these intercessions for people, it’s almost like, “Okay, that’s the positive, now here’s the negative. It’s going to counter everything I just said, and I want to say nevertheless you will be done.”
That’s not how the Lord is using that. He’s not using that as a cliché. He’s not using that as some way to dismiss Him. Because the way a lot of people would use that would almost imply as if Jesus’ will on the cross is somehow at complete odds with the Father’s will at the cross.
Now that’s going to present us with some mind-bending thoughts because it gets us deeply into our understanding of how the humanity and the deity of Christ intersect. That intersection—the union of the divine and the human—is undiminished deity and true humanity.
How that unites together in one person is called the Hypostatic Union from a Greek word which is used to mean substance or person in this context, so we will have to look at that as we think this through this week as well as next week.
In the previous lesson, we focused on what’s happening to our Lord as a Person. I keep emphasizing that because sometimes the way people talk, they’ll say, “Well, the deity of Christ or the humanity of Christ is almost as if—and I’m going to point this out later on—is that there’s not just two natures but two persons.
There’s two natures in one person. So the Person Jesus is sorrowing. The Person Jesus is grieving. The Person Jesus is facing this test and this trial. That He sorrows and grieves tells us that He is truly human. That He is submitted to the will of the Father may say some things also about His deity, but we will get into that as we go forward.
As we develop this study, there are a couple of things that we need to keep in mind and think through. One of those is understanding this doctrine called the Hypostatic Union and its significance. One thing that’s encouraging if you have a little trouble with it is that it took the early church with all of their intellectual tools—remember, most of these early church fathers were well trained in the thought forms and logic of either Aristotelianism or Platonism; they had great intellectual skills—they were wrestling with this concept.
First of all the question of who was Jesus before He came. Was He eternal like God? What’s the relationship of the pre-incarnate Christ to the Eternal Father? Then after they resolved that at the Council of Nicaea, the question was, well, what was He when He came? What’s the relationship of these two natures?
That took them from roughly around AD 150—because before that they weren’t analyzing these teachings in Scripture that clearly—from about AD 150 until about AD 450. That’s 300 years that it took really bright men to figure out how to correctly articulate this.
Sometimes we just flippantly act as if this is so easily understood because that’s what we’ve been taught since we were little in Sunday School or since we came to church. So it’s important to put ourselves in their place a little bit and think through what this means and what those implications are.
We have seen that Jesus, after the time in the upper room where He instituted the Lord’s Table, leaves that room with His disciples. What’s interesting is in the Synoptic Gospels—and that’s Matthew, Mark, and Luke—because they cover the same material in a slightly different way in each one, they are called the Synoptics.
They have Jesus leave the upper room; after the Seder meal the disciples sing a hymn and they go out, and then they’re coming to Gethsemane.
When you look at the Gospel of John, you realize that all along the way as Jesus is walking through the city of Jerusalem (and around, I believe, the southern walls of the Temple and along the path in the Valley of the Kidron to this area at Gethsemane) He is teaching the disciples.
There is John 14 and John 15 and John 16; then either as He is walking or when they first arrive—I tend to think from looking at it, it is while they are still walking—Jesus prayed His what we call the high priestly prayer of John 17.
This is a night of prayer. The high priestly prayer is directly related to what Jesus taught His disciples about the Church Age in John 14, 15, and 16. Then we have that high priestly prayer, and then they arrived at the Garden of Gethsemane, and then we have these events.
So basically four chapters are left out by the Synoptics, but on the other hand, John doesn’t deal with this prayer of our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane. The reason the Synoptics focus on it and John doesn’t is because, I believe, the Synoptics are written long before AD 70.
They’re written quite early, AD 40 to early AD 50, and they’re written to answer different questions. Whereas, John is writing after the fall of Jerusalem. He’s writing in AD 90—early 90s—and is addressing a different situation than the other writers.
Jesus comes to the Garden of Gethsemane. Here’s the modern wall that is there and the sign.
As I’ve shown you in the past, He would have walked along the eastern wall. This wall was built by Saladin in the 16th century, and it’s basically along the same lines as the original wall because the lower part of it is made up of the stones that were placed by Herod at the time of first century.
He would walked along, and then down here, this is the Valley of Kidron, and then you see even today there are many olive trees that are planted along this particular area.
Here is a photo of the garden itself, and you can see that these trees are very, very old: 1,500, 1,600, 1,700 years of age.
Jesus comes and separates Himself from the disciples, from the whole group. He took with Him Peter, James, and John—the same three that were with Him on the Mount of Transfiguration. Why does He do that? I think the reason He takes the same three guys is that they saw the glory of His deity on the Mount of Transfiguration. Now they are going to see Him in the struggle of His humanity in the Garden of Gethsemane.
It’s interesting that you have Peter and John; Peter writes 1 and 2 Peter; John writes the Gospel of John and three epistles. The other two main writers of Scripture are Paul and Luke.
We also have Matthew and Mark writing their two Gospels. But in terms of the Church Age epistles, it’s basically Paul, Peter, and John. Peter and John have witnessed both the Transfiguration and they have witnessed His struggle in Gethsemane.
He comes and He falls on His face. Now what we see in the parallel Gospels is that one says He kneels, the other says He falls down, and another says He falls on His face. It is a position of submission, a position of subordination, and a position of respect. One bows down before a king, someone in authority.
This is not a prescriptive passage. One of the things that is difficult for people to understand when they read the Scripture is that some passages are prescriptive and some are descriptive.
Description simply says this is what Jesus does, or this is what Paul did. It doesn’t tell us that is what we’re supposed to do. That would be prescription, telling us what to do—it’s prescribed action. Different people, different cultures, pray in different ways.
When John portrays the Lord—for putting this together, Jesus is praying probably open eyed—this is rugged territory. Probably praying open eyed talking to the Father, maybe looking to heaven as He is walking along the path to go to the Garden of Gethsemane.
Here this personal prayer is reflected in His posture. In Jewish culture, in Middle Eastern culture, there are a lot more emotional and a lot more physically demonstrative than Western Europeans tend to be. That’s not to say that one is better than the other. It’s just different.
This isn’t prescription that when we pray we need to prostrate ourselves upon the ground. There’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what you want to do, but it’s not going to make you any holier. It’s not going to make you any more spiritual. It’s not going to mean that you’re more mature than anybody else. It’s just a choice.
He goes, He falls; He separates Himself from the others. I think that’s important too because this is a personal prayer. He’s going off about a stone’s throw. So the disciples could see Him—probably about as far as from the pulpit back to the back wall of the auditorium—but it also was a time of privacy.
It’s interesting how commentarians get so caught up in little details, “Well, if they couldn’t hear Him, how would they know when He prayed?” Seems like Jesus said something on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane in John 14 that that the Holy Spirit would bring to remembrance, bring to their mind all the things that He had taught them. It is called “inspiration of the Scriptures.” So they didn’t have to hear Him for God the Holy Spirit to reveal to them what He had prayed.
He prays, and here He says, “O, My Father.” I will talk about that just a little bit. He prays, “O, My Father.” This is interesting because in Judaism you never prayed “O, My Father,” or you never used that phrase “my Father.” The word for Father in Hebrew is Ab, and if you were saying “my Father,” you’d say, Abi “my Father.”
There’s a diminutive to that which we will see is used in the Mark parallel and that is ABBA, which is often translated for Americans as Daddy or Poppa or a more intimate term. We will look at that in just a minute, but what this shows is the intimacy that Jesus had with the Father, and one which, because we are in Christ, we can have also. So we are addressing prayer to the Father.
Every now and then you’ll hear somebody who says, “Well, you can pray to the Holy Spirit or you can pray to the Son.” We have a lot of people who just use the ambiguous phrase “Lord.” And you don’t know whether there talking to Father, Son, or Holy Spirit, or whether they’re just talking to the Second Person of the Trinity.
You’ve probably heard some people say that you should only pray to the Father, and you’ve heard some other people say, “Well, of course Jesus prayed to the Father. He’s not going to pray to Himself, so why do you make this conclusion that you shouldn’t pray to the Son?”
They will justify that ambiguity, and you’ll hear charismatics even praying to the Holy Spirit. We never have an example in the Scripture of prayer to the Holy Spirit. We never have an example prayer to the Son either.
The reason is because both the Son and the Spirit are intercessors for us to the Father. The Son is our intercessor. He is praying to the Father for us. We don’t need to pray to the intercessor. We pray to the Father.
That’s the basic theological rationale for why we pray to the Father. It’s a little bit of an argument from silence the fact that nobody prays to the Son or the Spirit in the Scriptures. We don’t pray to the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for us as well. We don’t pray to the intercessor.
This is one of the distinctions between Protestant theology and Roman Catholic theology. In Roman Catholic theology, they don’t understand the relationship that the believer in Christ now has, giving him intimacy with the Father.
They require not only an intercessor with the Father, but they require an intercessor with the intercessors, so they pray to Mary. Mary is the one you must pray to, and she will intercede with the Son and then with the Father. It gets all convoluted because of the influence of paganism and false teaching.
Jesus prays to the Father. I think we learn from this that we too should pray to the Father. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray in Matthew 6 He said, “Pray ‘our Father who art in heaven.’” Again, an emphasis that prayer is directed toward the Father.
I want to look at the parallel before we go on. The big phrase I want to look at is first of all the request, “Let this cup pass from Me.” We’re not going to look at that this week. I’ll summarize it. We will talk about a more next time. The cup represents His judgment for sin on the Cross.
It might surprise you to realize that almost every phrase in these prayers in this section is highly debated among orthodox evangelical scholars. It’s amazing. When I got into this about three or four weeks ago, I was just stunned by the debates that go on and the vast amount of reading I had to go through in the last three weeks in order to make sure I’ve got this got a handle on this.
Because there are several different views out there trying to come to grips with what this passage is saying. All of them are wrestling with the idea that we don’t want to somehow create a problem with the relationship of the humanity and the deity of Christ.
Jesus prays, “… nevertheless, not as I will but as You will.”
That’s the big question: Does Jesus have a separate will from the Father, or does Jesus have the same will as the Father? Is there one will in the Person of Christ or two?
I’m just going to cut to the chase there: there’s two. He’s got His own individual will—that’s part of His human nature. There’s the Father’s will and the Son’s will. We will look at that.
This was a heresy that developed in the sixth and seventh centuries AD, called Monothelitism. You can all remember that, I know. Monothelitism: if you break it down, THELEO is the Greek word for “will,” MONO is the word “one.”
It’s the idea that Jesus had two natures but one will. Then if He only has one will, does He have a true, full human nature? We will get into that.
Mark 14:35–36, “He went a little further and fell on the ground.” Notice he doesn’t say “falls down on the ground.” He just fell on the ground. He doesn’t say “He knelt,” as Luke does. “He went a little farther, fell on the ground and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him.”
That is a statement of indirect discourse from Mark. Y’all remember that from sixth or seventh grade literature: that you have direct discourse and indirect discourse. Direct discourse is when you’re directly quoting what was said by someone, and indirect discourse is when you’re just paraphrasing them in your own words.
In Mark he paraphrases what Jesus is praying for in his own words in verse 35, and then in verse 36 he tells us precisely what Jesus said.
That’s important because I think when you compare Matthew to Mark, you can avoid taking the position that some people have taken. Because Mark makes it pretty clear—“if it were possible”—what that conditional statement means.
Jesus prays that, “… if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, ‘(ABBA) Father, all things are possible for You.’ ”
Now that phrase “all things are possible for You” is not stated as a condition; that is a statement of fact. It is an indicative statement and a declarative statement. He states “all things are possible for You.”
God is omnipotent, but when we say “all things are possible for You,” that doesn’t mean God can make a square circle. It doesn’t mean that God can violate certain realities. It just means that God can do whatever He intends to do in light of His plan and His purpose.
So Jesus is praying, “… all things are possible for You …” and then we have His request, “take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will but what You.” That second “will” is just supplied to make more sense. He literally says, “not what I will but what You…” It’s implied there; it’s the Greek word THELO.
This is an important word to understand. It’s used here; it’s used many times, and the noun form of it, the lemma, is used many times in John as we will see in a minute. This has to do with not just expressing God’s sovereign declared will, but it also has the idea of desire, which is a little less intense than expressing an absolute will.
That’s important because Jesus is talking about His own will. When He uses the word THELO there is He talking about an absolute will or is He talking about a desire that is simply present in His human nature?
Breaking some of this down, I said Abba is an intimate address for the Father, but this word is also highly debated. I have read numerous scholars from an evangelical community and they all talk about this as being this intimate word, and that this was used in the first century.
However, there’s a man named Raymond Brown who is a Roman Catholic scholar. He has written a book called, The Death of the Messiah, which is two volumes. Each volume is about 2½ to 3 inches thick. He is granular in his analysis of exegesis, his analysis of theology, and theological articles. In fact, I discovered several evangelical articles from journals from reading him and his footnotes than I had discovered.
In fact, one of my professors and a guy I knew at Dallas Seminary had written an article back in the 70s. I don’t agree with him, but he had written a very interesting article on the prayer at Gethsemane, and that was footnoted by Brown.
So you have to be careful because he’s Roman Catholic; he’s got certain theological predilections there. He cites granular studies on the use of abba which say that this form of the word is never used before the early second century: AD 100, 110, or 120.
My opinion is that when Jesus prays throughout out the Gospels, He prays mostly Ab, “My Father.” In Jewish tradition, you would never assume that level of intimacy with God. You’d never pray Ab.
God may be Father, but you’re not going to pray in that level of intimacy, and that’s what Jesus did. Here He uses the word abba, and Paul also introduces that in Galatians. This indicates that close intimacy the believer has with the Father.
I think that it’s introduced into Hebrew language because of what Jesus did—because of what Paul said. This was a form that’s introduced. That’s why it’s not tested—it’s not found in any literature prior to the second century.
It’s in the first century, due to the influence of Christians, that this word is formed and this word is used. In the last part of the paragraph there, the phrase “My Father,”—I just cited some of the references—is used consistently in Matthew and Mark and Luke, as well as numerous passages in the Gospel of John.
Mark in his indirect discourse says that Jesus prays that, “… if it were possible.” This is a first class condition. My goodness! There’s a lot of debate over the nuance of the first class condition.
Normally, the way many of us have been taught is we think of the fact that there’s four different ways you can express the nuance of an “if” clause in the Bible.
You can say “if and it’s true” where you would translate it “since,” but that’s not always the case. You can’t always translate it as “since.” Many times you can, though.
Second class condition is “if and the condition is assumed to be not true.”
The third class condition is more of what we think of as a condition is “if maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not.” Like “if we confess our sins,” maybe you will, maybe you won’t.
What’s interesting that throws a little twist into things is there’s about ten cases in the New Testament where the first class condition is used, but it’s basically “if and it’s not true.” It’s a contrary-to-fact condition.
You have to go through all of this stuff. A number of articles that I read that were dealing with grammar written by evangelicals would argue that this is a contrary-to-fact example.
I don’t think it is because of what is stated in going back to this previous slide in Mark 14:36, where Jesus states it as a declarative statement that, “all things are possible.” Jesus is recognizing that there is a possibility here—remote though it might be.
Or He is simply stating it as an assumption for debate’s sake, where “if and we’re going to assume it’s true, but it probably isn’t.” That’s more the case, I think, that is here because all things are possible for God, but Jesus knows this isn’t possible.
Now why do I say that? Because there have been five times up to this point where Jesus has told the disciple that “it’s necessary for Me to go to Jerusalem where I’m going to be betrayed, where I am going to be handed over to the Gentiles, where I’m going to be crucified, and I am going to rise from the dead.”
When you look at those statements, it’s clear that He knows that’s what God’s will is. The question arises, did Jesus have a will separate from the Father that is independent and exercised independently from the Father?
Let’s look at three passages in the Gospel of John where Jesus talks about this. In John 4:34 Jesus said to His disciples, “My food”—and by food He means that which gives me energy. Food is that which nourishes you; food is that which gives you energy.
He’s using it metaphorically here, aside from actually eating. He says, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”
Jesus understood that’s His mission is to bring to completion the work, the plan of God the Father. That’s the word THELEMA, which is the noun form of “THELO,” which is the verb form He uses in the Garden of Gethsemane. Here it’s very clear He understands the will of the Father.
In John 5:30 He says, “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.”
That’s a really interesting passage because it does clearly tell us Jesus has His own will, but He’s not going to exercise it independently of the Father. He is always dependent upon the Father and He is going to carry out the Father’s plan.
John 6:38, He says, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will”—in other words not to exercise Myself independently of the Father—“but the will of Him who sent Me.”
I think this is important because the way in which some people have expressed some of the discussion on the Hypostatic Union is that the Son submitted Himself to the Father’s will, and the kenosis is that Jesus would enter into human history and never act independently of the Father. I don’t think you even need to use the word independent there because He never does. His will is never independent of the Father.
Let’s look at this term that I’ve been talking about: Hypostatic Union.
This comes from a Greek word HUPOSTASIS, which has the basic meaning of a substantial nature or capacity or essence or actual being or reality. The term comes into use in the fourth century AD to express the relationship between the humanity and the deity of Christ.
By way of definition, which I’ll break down in a minute, “The Hypostatic Union describes the union of two natures, divine and human, in the One Person of Jesus Christ. These natures are inseparably united without loss or mixture of separate identity …”
In other words, they’re united, but they’re not meshed together. He is still fully God; He is fully man. They’re kept independent, but they’re united; they don’t blend together. “… without loss or mixture of separate identity, without loss or transfer properties or attributes, the union is personal and eternal.”
The fact is that a billion years from now, Jesus is still the God-Man. Once He entered into human history and took on the form of humanity, He is the God-Man forever and ever and ever. It doesn’t change His deity. That’s part of why you use these phrases “without loss or mixture of separate identity” and “without loss or transfer of properties or attributes.” It’s eternal.
Now here are key passages; I’ll briefly talk about a couple of these, not all of them. That’s the kenosis passage, Philippians 2:6–11, I’ll look at that in just a minute. Notice I’ve underlined John 1, Romans 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1.
That’s so if you want to remember something, just remember those first chapters. Romans, Hebrews, Colossians, John, that’s it. That’s where you find those great passages on the deity of Christ entering into human history.
We’ve done Philippians 2 many times in detail. Paul is talking about humility and unity in the body of Christ in Philippi, that they should not each be seeking their own agenda. The example that he gives is Jesus Christ. It goes back to the incarnation, that Christ, “… although He existed in the form of God …”
That phrase means the essence of God: He has full rights and privileges of deity. He’s equal to the Father in His essence. Even though He had that, He didn’t regard His privilege, His equality with God something to be held on to, something to be grasped.
He’s not going to assert His rights and privileges of deity. Instead He is going to, the phrase is translated “emptied himself.” That’s a huge debate. The Greek word is KENOSIS and it has the idea of He’s willing to limit Himself. He is going to limit the use of His divine prerogatives for a limited time for a specific purpose, and that is to fulfill the plan of redemption.
He empties Himself “… by taking on the form of …” Emptying Himself is a bad translation because that indicates you’re giving something up. He never gives up His deity. What He does is He adds to His deity this nature of being a servant, which is qualified by the phrase “… being made in the likeness of men ...”
He’s going to take on, He’s going to add to His deity humanity. He is “… found in appearance …” That indicates who He is: He’s a man; He’s fully a man. He’s not just the appearance of a man. That was a heresy in the early church called Docetism. But He is truly a man.
“… He humbled Himself”—that’s submission to authority—“He humbled Himself by being obedient to the point of death”—so that emphasizes that He is obedient.
These words—THELO, the verb; THELEMA, the noun; being obedient—all emphasize that Jesus has His own volition as a separate person. Even in the Trinity, but it’s never exercised apart from the whole because Jesus says, “I and the Father are One” in John 10:30.
He has to exercise that volition, though, in growing spiritually. That’s the purpose of Hebrews 2:10 that God the Father is perfecting or bringing to maturity “… the author of their salvation through sufferings.” It’s how He handles that testing.
Terms of the definition:
1. There are two natures in Christ; two distinct substances: One divine and one human.
They’re united. None of us can explain how that happens.
2. These two natures are united IN the One Person of Christ, but they remain distinct.
They don’t blend together. It’s not like you’re making bread, and you’re taking flour, and then you’re adding sugar and salt and blending it all together. They remain distinct.
3. There is no transfer of the attributes from one nature to the other nature.
His humanity doesn’t leak into His deity. His deity doesn’t leak into His humanity. In some way what Jesus does in Hypostatic Union is that He doesn’t give up those divine attributes, but it’s like He puts in a firewall, and there are only certain times when He accesses His deity to do some certain things, and He doesn’t ever do it to solve His human problems.
Like when He’s in the Garden of Gethsemane and He’s under this incredible pressure, He doesn’t rely on His divine attributes to solve the problem. A lot of people get confused, “Well, of course Jesus did not have problems. He was God. He just handled it.” No, He didn’t; not that way. He handled it out of His humanity the same way you and I do.
But there were times when Jesus used His deity to demonstrate that He was God: when He stilled the sea, when you have the storm on the Sea of Galilee; when He changed the water into wine; when He healed people and He healed the lepers. That demonstrates that He was fully God.
4. The union is a personal union.
That means He’s a person—He’s not just some “thing.” He’s a person with all the attributes and all the nuances of what it means to be a person: that we can communicate with Him, we can talk to Him. He communicates with the Father. He is a person.
5. There is only one person.
It is not two persons in two natures. There’s not two natures and one will. There are two natures: undiminished deity and true humanity.
6. This union is eternal.
What are some of the consequences of this?
a. One consequence is there’s a communion of the attributes, and I’ll explain this couple different ways.
First of all, as we look at this, He does things as one person. That’s what I’m getting at, in this particular slide. There’s a communion of the attributes in that they are shared with one another, but they do not penetrate one another. It’s one person that is doing everything. When Jesus says “I hunger,” that indicates His humanity, but you can’t say, “Well, Jesus’ humanity hungered, but His deity didn’t.” See you’re treating Him like He’s some sort of multiple personality. The one person hungers—that’s what I’m getting at here.
b. A second thing concerning the consequences of the Hypostatic Union concerns the acts of Christ. That those acts are all the act of one person.
c. A third is that the man Christ Jesus is the object of worship. Not the deity side, but the one person of the Lord Jesus Christ because He is fully God.
d. A fourth consequence is that Christ can therefore sympathize with us. He’s been tested in every area as we are, yet without sin.
That’s important because when we go to the Father in prayer, the High Priest who is interceding for us and with us has an understanding of what we’re going through because He has been there, He has been tested. Now He didn’t sin; you don’t have to sin to understand the pressure of the testing.
e. A fifth consequence is the eternal Priesthood of Christ.
A priest is a go-between. As human He can represent us. That relates to His being a mediator, the one who stands between God and man. He is an everlasting priest for us.
f. The sixth consequence is the absence of the sin nature.
Adam and Eve sinned, but there’s no sin in Jesus, so He is the perfect High Priest who can intercede for us.
g. The seventh consequence is that He is the One who is sitting at the right hand of God the Father, so that the One who is sitting at the right hand of the Father is a man.
He’s the God-man, He’s fully human. The one who is directing and holding the universe together, according to Colossians 1:15–17, is a man. He’s the God-man, but He’s a human.
In the early church they had two questions that they were trying to address:
1. What was Jesus BEFORE He came
2. What was Jesus WHEN He came?
The first question was satisfied by an understanding of the Trinity—that Jesus was eternally God.
But the big question was, who was Jesus when He came?
I’ve always found this helpful. They got it wrong because they didn’t have the mental tools yet, the intellectual language, to express it. I think a lot of these guys were trying to get the right thing out, but they did know how to express it yet, and the way they expressed it was determined to be heresy.
Apollinaris was the first to take a stab at it, and in his view a human being is made up of the body, he’s made up of the soul, and he’s made up of the human spirit—three parts. Christ was made up of a body, but He had a divine soul, and the human spirit is partly human. So He is not truly man and truly God; He’s a blend.
So after they thought about this for a while, they said, “No, that’s wrong; that’s heresy.”
The next guy to take a stab at this is Nestorius. I think a lot of Christians are really Nestorian in their understanding of the Hypostatic Union, and they don’t know it because they’ve never studied this.
Nestorian Christianity dominates in certain Eastern groups of Christianity. It dominated, for example, in China up until the time Marco Polo got there. The Christians there were all Nestorians. It had a long-term impact.
In Nestorianism Jesus is really split: He’s got a divine nature and a divine person. So you’ve get two natures in two persons. In Christ you have a divine nature, divine person, that somehow connected with a human nature and a human person, but there’s this firewall completely between them, and it’s not one person. It’s almost the idea of multiple personality. Well, that’s going too far in one direction.
The next guy to come along was Eutychius, and he says what you have is a united Christ. You have a divine nature and human nature and they’re put together into the person of Christ. It creates a third nature; it’s blended together, so it’s one person in one nature.
They finally got this articulated at AD 451 with the Chalcedonian Creed. You can read it later; for the sake of time, I just want to go over the conclusion here.
“They are not divided”—that is, the two natures—“are not divided or cut into two persons [Nestorianism], but are together the One and Only and Only Begotten LOGOS of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus have the prophets of old testified; thus the Lord Jesus Christ Himself taught us ...” One Person, two natures.
When we answer the question, did Jesus have a will separate from the Father? The answer is yes, but He never operates independent of the Father’s will. He’s committed to do the Father’s will. But there’s a pressure on Him in the garden.
When he says, “Nevertheless not my will but Yours be done,” He’s not using that as sort of a catchall phrase to just sort of, “OK, I’ll go ahead and go along with Your plan.” He’s recognizing that that He’s been in this struggle, and that He continues to be fully committed to what He’s been committed to all along, and that is to fulfill the Father’s plan for His life.
We can’t do that because we’re not sinless and we’re not the Son of God. What we can do is recognize that we are engaged in a soul battle. It’s volition. Are we going to live our life each day to serve the Lord? Whatever testing or challenge comes, we’re going to do God’s will, but we have to know what God’s will is.
God’s will is not some mystical thing we engage in—a little navel-gazing, waiting for some liver quiver to define what God wants us to do—we know God’s will because we know God’s Word. To be able to pray within the will of God, we have to know it from His Word. That’s the challenge to us. It always seems to come back to this: we need to know the Word!
Yesterday morning in the men’s prayer breakfast, we had about fifteen men there, several who usually there weren’t there. A young friend of mine came and visited yesterday, and I saw him a couple more times during the day or talked to him, he texted me. He said, “That was great this morning.” Then I saw him later on in an event in the afternoon. He said, “That was just tremendous!”
He said, “I just loved it to see a group of men like that who been reading their Bible and they’re asking questions! They want to really come to know what the Bible says! He said, “Do y’all meet every week or once a month?” I said, “We meet once a month.” He said, “Can I bring my dad next time?” Isn’t that great! We need that kind of enthusiasm. The focus is on knowing the Word.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity we have to come together to be challenged, to study Your Word, to reflect upon this prayer of Jesus and what we can learn from this prayer, not only about Who He is but about how we should pray to You.
“The fact is that we don’t pray as often as we should, as James says, we have not because we ask not. Father, we need to be walking in closer communion with You, realizing the truth that You are our Father, You are Abba; we have this intimate relationship with You.
“Father, we pray that if there is anyone listening this morning here, listening to this message via Internet, if they have never trusted in Christ as Savior, that You would have made clear the gospel, the great news, the Good News, that we can have eternal life.
“We can have an eternal relationship, an intimate relationship with You because we are in Christ and because He is a High Priest, and because we have a unique relationship in this Church Age because of what Christ did for us on the Cross.
“The only way to benefit from this is to believe in Him, to trust Him. That’s the only condition in Scripture for salvation—to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Father, we pray that that will be clear to those who are listening.
“Father for those who are believers, may we be challenged to a more intimate walk with You, to know Your will through the reading of Scripture, the study of Scripture, and making that a priority in our lives because when our life is over and we are face-to-face with You, the only thing we take with us from this life is our capacity to love You and to know You, which is built by a study of Your Word.
“We pray that You will challenge us with this in Christ’s name, amen”