We have explained that Jesus was God as the Bible explicitly says (John 1:1). What was the difference, then, between how He was God prior to His human birth and when He was a human being?
Paul addresses this very question in Philippians 2. Paul tells us what He left behind and what He took upon Himself. "He, who had always been God by nature, did not cling to his privileges as God's equal." Instead He "stripped himself of every advantage by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born a man" (verses 6-7, NTME).
Verse 8 tells us that "he humbled himself by living a life of utter obedience, to the point of death, and the death he died was the death of a common criminal" (NTME).
In taking on the form of a human being, Jesus gave up the independent exercise of His attributes that He had when He was with the
Father. This doesn't mean that He lost them but that, to become truly human, it was necessary that He voluntarily give up the ability to exercise them on His own. And having given them up, He no longer had these attributes inherently while a man. Indeed, as quoted above, Jesus clearly said He did not have the ability to perform supernatural works on His own: "I can of Myself do nothing" (John 5:30). He could exercise the attributes of divinity only in submission to the will of the Father.
Jesus performed many wondrous works, but He emphatically told His disciples that "I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works" (John 14:10). Again and again, Jesus declared that the works He did were the Father's, not His own, and He pointed to the works as proof that He had been sent from the Father (John 10:32, 37-38).
While in prior centuries Jesus had authority to speak as YHWH of the Old Testament, He now spoke and acted under authority to God and in full dependence on Him. "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner" (John 5:19).
The One who existed with the Father from before the beginning of the universe, now as a human being, explained the relationship: "... I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things" (John 8:28).
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