Monday, October 1, 2012

All Authority to the God-Man


Someone asked how Jesus could be “given” all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). Did He not, as God, always possess that authority?

We need to remember that Jesus is fully human as well as fully divine. He is the God-man. In His divinity, He has always existed, without beginning or end, as the Son of God. But His human nature had a beginning in time and space. John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1-2, 14).

Now notice, in Matthew 28:18, that Jesus said that all authority “has been given” to Him in heaven and on earth. This indicates that there was a time when that was not so. That is, as the God-man, He did not always possess all authority in heaven and earth. In His divinity, Yes, but in His humanity, No.

In Philippians 2, we see something else that was given to Him. Because of the cross, and through the resurrection, Jesus the Messiah has been “given” the “name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

Paul is really saying the same thing here that Jesus said in Matthew 28:18. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him; the highest name has been given to Him, so that all in heaven and on earth must bow before Him and confess that He is Lord.

Notice also, that this is not authority yet to be given, or a name yet to be given. In both places, the word for “given” is in the aorist tense, signifying completed action, a done deal. All this fulfills a very important prophecy in Daniel 7:13-14:
I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.
Here we see the prophetic significance of the phrase by which Jesus often referred to Himself, “the Son of Man.” It does not mean merely that Jesus is human, but it identifies Him as the divinely chosen man, who was to be given full authority over the earth. Compare this passage also with how the Lord’s Prayer ends: “Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”

So it is not simply as God that Jesus has been given these things. It is as the God-man, because of the great victory He won on the cross over sin and death and the principalities and powers, and by the vindication He received when God raised Him from the dead. Here is a breath-taking realization: The One who rules and reigns over heaven and earth is fully human as well as fully divine.