Was Jesus Born Knowing Who He Was?

by jeff on December 11, 2013

Back in 2008, a visiting pastor threw out the following rhetorical question as an aside: “Did Jesus know who he was (since birth)?”  I was stunned.  40 years of church and I never heard anyone say that before.  I thought of little else that night.

This was so juicy that I chewed on it the next four years until I came to a (personal) conclusion.  Jesus wasn’t born knowing who he was.  He chose to believe.  Just like I can.

Here is some of my thinking (just in time for Christmas ;)).

If Jesus knew who he was, the desert temptations (Matt 4:1-11) were a fraud.  Two of the three temptations started with “If you are the Son of God, …”.  If he was born knowing, that’s no temptation.  That’s playacting.

If he knew who he was, he would not have grown in wisdom (Luke 2:52).  He would have been born with it in fullness.

If he knew who was, he wouldn’t be the author and perfecter of the path before us (Heb 12:1-3).  He would have already known it as a non-human, which isn’t like us (Heb 2:17, Heb 4:15).

I’ll continue.

He chose to believe that despite being born in a dusty pittance of a town (that Fr. Richard described as caves with lean-to’s), he was special.  That despite growing up in the “back forty” known as Nazareth (John 1:46), he was special.  That despite looking every bit ordinary (Isaiah 53:2), he was special.  He chose to believe.

His Mom undoubtedly talked about angels and shepherds and wise men following a star and Zachariah and John the Baptist jumping in Elizabeth’s womb.  Yet she also mentioned her “unprecedented” unwed pregnancy, his birth in a skanky manger, and fleeing to Egypt for their lives.  He chose to believe.

His neighbors suggested coyly that he was a bastard (Matt 13:55), the ‘carpenter’s son’ <wink wink, nod nod>.  He chose to believe.

Bottom line: He chose to believe that he was more than he appeared despite all the contrary evidence.  Just…like…I…can.

I can identify with this!  I can follow this!  I am empowered by this!  Anything else isn’t something I relate to.

Merry Christmas.


There is a light in the darkness! May this be a sacred time for you.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Notjeff December 18, 2013 at 2:18 am

Interesting question Jeff. Did he know who he was at birth? Well, yes and no. See, Jesus was a half breed. A one of a kind, never duplicated since. So, since he was God incarnate (unless we dispute his mother’s miraculous impregnation), then half of him knew exactly who he was cause that half, well, was omniscient. But here’s where it gets a little weird (hah! – as if it JUST got weird after what I just stated), he was half man like you and me. And last time I checked, as a human, I don’t have it in me to command eagles to soar (Job). And at this point in Jesus’s infant life, neither did he. This is the strange mystery of all time; that The Son of God who created all things, knew all things, and sat at the right hand of The Father actually chose to obey His Father and reduce, limit, and contain himself as God when he became a man. With all the limitations of humanity. That means of course he didn’t know who he was at that stage of his life. Heck, He couldn’t even control his own poop or feed himself. That is so mind boggling to think the creator of the universe had to rely on others to care for him and keep him alive cause he chose to play by his own rules and be fully man while being fully God. Mind and body of a child. But somewhere in there he was also God. And as he matured and grew, the decisions came for him to align who he was with what he chose to be. When Satan tempted him, it was truly temptation! He kept challenging Jesus to do something “if you are who you say you are”. Obviously as a human, he had his doubts too. As I’m writing, I wonder if Jesus could really actually have done the things Satan was tempting him to do when at the pinnacle of the temple? Now that I think about, I think the answer is NO. I think had Jesus not chosen to believe, that in spite of what others said or didn’t say about him – including Satan – he had to choose to die in a very specific way or the whole game was off. That’s why Satan was tempting him. Doubt yourself. You know God loves you so, jump. He’ll cover it. Nope. I believe he would have died as a human while his God self lived on, but the plan since Gen 3 would have been lost and so would mankind. But it sure is fascinating to think about. Gives me a feeling of how much he must have loved mankind to put up with all that.


Jeff December 19, 2013 at 10:16 am

Cool man. If what you wrote gets your motor going and helps you live a generous and gracious life, perfect!

If it’s a stagnant belief however, more certitude and dogma than vulnerable wondering, perhaps loosening your grip on the “orthodox” answer will open up an unseen source of (astounding) life.


notjeff December 19, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Man, if I actually had the right answers…… Holy Schneike! Merry Christmas Jeffe! tk


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