When Jesus gave his prophecy about the end of this system of things, He stated. “But of that day, or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the father.” Had Jesus been the equal Son part of a Godhead (Trinity) surely he would have known what the father knows. But Jesus did not know, so how are we to believe that he is equal to God?
Who was Jesus? That is the key that unlocks the mystery of your question. If we are wrong here the scriptures do not make sense. If it is confusing, it is because we do not understand what scripture is trying to say. It is like reading a novel and not understanding who the lead character is. The story is then a mystery.
Who Is Jesus?
There are those today who are confused about Jesus. Some think He was only a man and others say Jesus is God. The latter is what Christians believe. Over the years, I have taught a Bible class on basic Christian doctrine. I usually start the course with a quiz to determine what areas I need to emphasize. There is one question that almost everyone misses everytime the quiz is given. It is a true and false question, “Jesus was a man.” The answer that is usually given is “False.” This is unfortunate, because Jesus was BOTH God and man. Scripture teaches that Jesus was 100% God and Jesus was 100% man. He was both! Listen to this passage,
. . . through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, (NASB) Romans 1:2-4
The passage claims Jesus was born a human being and that He was God. The term Son of God means that Jesus was God. Listen to this passage,
Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” Jesus answered them, . . . Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? (NIV) John 10:31-36
The Jews said they were going to stone Jesus because He claimed to be God. They understood that Jesus was saying He was God. Notice how Jesus responded, ” . . . because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” In that culture the term “Son of God” was equal to saying He was God. So they were going to stone Him for blasphemy. Scripture teaches that Jesus was both God and man. Now how is this important to your question?
Kenosis of Jesus
Philippians 2:6-8 will help us answer your question,
. . . although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (NASB) Philippians 2:6-8
The original language the Bible was written in is Greek. Notice that Jesus existed in the form of God before He became a man. The Greek word for “form” is MORPHE. It means “to have the very nature” and it occurs two times in this passage to show us that Jesus had the very nature or essence of God and man. The word, “emptied,” highlighted in red, is our key word. This Greek word, KENOO, means “to deprive” or “to empty” for example. It means that Jesus deprived Himself of something when He became a human. The term “Kenosis” comes from this Greek word.
Limited His Glory
Of what was Jesus emptied? We know that God’s glory (Ex. 33:21-23) shows like light (1 John 1:5). Jesus did not glow when He was here on the earth. He looked like an ordinary man. This tells us that Jesus deprived Himself of His glory when He became a man, except for one brief moment on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-3) when He glistened as the sun.
And six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and *brought them up to a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. (NASB) Mark 9:2-3
Limited His Knowledge
Jesus emptied Himself of something else too. These next two passages reveal something else of which He deprived Himself,
And the child continued to grow, and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel. (NASB) Luke 1:80
And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. (NASB) Luke 2:52
He limited His knowledge when He came to earth. As time went by, He learned. At the age of twelve, He was teaching the religious authorities,
And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. (NASB) Luke 2:47
Later in His ministry the Bible has these things to say about Him,
Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” Nathanael *said to Him, “How do You know me?” (NASB) John 1:47
But He knew what they were thinking, and He said to the man with the withered hand, “Rise and come forward!” And he rose and came forward. (NASB) Luke 6:8
. . . and because He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man for He Himself knew what was in man. (NASB) John 2:25
Jesus therefore said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. (NASB) John 8:28
The only reason Jesus needed to be taught was that He had willingly decided to limit His knowledge while being a man. Yet, He healed people of diseases, walked on water, knew people’s thoughts, calmed the sea waves, killed a tree with a command, disappeared, and forgave sins. He proved He was God by His actions.
Now Our Answer
So, why did Jesus say,
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. (NASB) Matthew 24:36
The Father had not revealed it to the man Jesus Christ. John 10:38 tells us the Father was in Jesus and Jesus was in the Father.
. . . the Father is in Me, and I in the Father. (NASB) John 10:38
Yes, Jesus was deity. The Father and Christ were one and the same. But as a man Jesus had willingly chosen to limit His knowledge while living like a man. He was like a man in every other way. He became hungry, slept, drank liquid, wept, and eventually died on a cross for the sins of the world so that we could have peace with God.
After Jesus’ resurrection, He returned to heaven, and rules. He is coming again some day. He is God! He calls us to trust Him for the forgiveness of our sins.