Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Jesus’ Omniscience – A Lukan Perspective Pt. 2

Sam Shamoun

This continues our discussion.

The Incomprehensible Son and Divine Revealer

There’s still a lot more to say concerning this issue of Christ’s omniscience.

Jesus proclaimed himself to be just as incomprehensible as the Father is, and also claimed to know God in the same way and to the same extent that God knows him!

“All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him.” Luke 10:22 – cf. Matthew 11:27; 28:18; John 1:18; 3:35; 6:46; 7:29; 10:15; 16:15; 17:2, 10, 25

To say that this is a mind-boggling assertion is a wild understatement!

The following Christian scholars help bring out the implications of Jesus’ words:

“Here, Jesus’ exclusive claim to be able to bring us into a relationship with the Father is grounded on the fact that as the Son, he alone, among all humanity, knows the Father. If we are to know the Father, we must depend on the Son to reveal him to us (cf. John 1:18). Jesus is not just one of God’s many sons: he is the Son, the one to whom the Father has handed over ‘all things,’ the one whose prerogative it is to choose who will know the Father. Reflect on that claim for just a moment: Jesus asserts that it is his prerogative to choose who among all humanity will come to know the Father, that is, who will come to enjoy that relationship with God the Father. Such a prerogative places Jesus on an entirely different level from the rest of the human rest.” (Bowman & Komoszewski, Putting Jesus In His Place, Part 4: Infinitely Qualified: Jesus Shares in the Deeds That God Does, 17. The Way, the Truth, and the Life, pp. 208-209; bold emphasis ours)


“... Here we discover how Jesus understands his relation to the Father–a relation that can only be understood as a claim of deity. It is presented in the most unique of ways and is unpacked in terms of two affirmations.

“First, the Father-Son relationship is spoken of in terms of an exclusive, mutual knowledge that each has of the other. Initially, it is not surprising that Jesus says, ‘No one knows the Son except the Father,’ for the Father is omniscient. But when he states, ‘No one knows the Father except the Son,’ this is a staggering claim. As Robert Reymond contends, this statement ‘lifts Jesus above the sphere of the ordinary mortal and places him in a position, not of equality merely, but of absolute reciprocity and interpenetration of knowledge of the Father.’

“Furthermore, the only way one can make sense of this reciprocal/mutual knowledge of the Son is in categories that are antecedent to Jesus becoming Messiah. Why? Because it is nigh impossible to think of Jesus’ knowledge as merely a consequence of his messianic mission; it has to be tied to pre-temporal, even eternal relations. That is why ‘sonship’ cannot merely be reduced to functional categories. Rather, as George Ladd has argued, ‘sonship precedes messiahship and is in fact the ground for the messianic mission.’ Second, the Father-Son relation is further developed in terms of a mutual sovereignty whereby both the Father and the Son must take the initiative to reveal each other in order for anyone to come to a saving knowledge.

“When these two affirmations are united, it is fair to say that no higher expression of parity between the Father and the Son can be given. Jesus’ self-identity as the Son has to be understood in divine terms. B. B. Warfield, many years ago, said it correctly:

Not merely is the Son the exclusive revealer of God, but the mutual knowledge of the Father and Son is put on what seems very much a par. The Son can be known only by the Father in all that He is, as if His being were infinite and as such inscrutable to the finite intelligence; and His knowledge alone – again as if He were infinite in His attributes–is competent to compass the depths of the Father's infinite being. He who holds this relation to the Father cannot conceivably be a creature.” (Stephen J. Wellum, The Deity of Christ, edited by Christopher W. Morgan & Robert A. Peterson [Crossway, Wheaton, IL 2011], 3. The Deity of Christ in the Synoptic Gospels, pp. 82-83; bold emphasis ours)

Thus, not only does Jesus’ saying here affirm both his incomprehensible nature and omniscience, since the Holy Bible emphatically testifies that no creature can ever fully know God, especially to the same extent that s/he is known by God:

“God thunders marvelously with His voice; He does great things that we cannot comprehend… Do you understand how the clouds float, those wonderful works of Him who has perfect knowledge?” Job 37:5, 16 – cf. 5:9; 9:10; 36:26

Who has measured/comprehended the Spirit of the LORD, or who gave Him His counsel? Who did He consult with? Who gave Him understanding and taught Him the paths of justice? Who taught Him knowledge and showed Him the way of understanding? … Do you not know? Have you not heard? Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding.” Isaiah 40:13-14, 28

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Or who has ever first given to Him, and has to be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:33-36 – cf. Ephesians 3:18-19; Philippians 4:7; Psalm 139:1-16; 145:3

It also conflicts with the Quran which blasphemously puts false words in the mouth of Christ in order to make him deny his intimate and perfect knowledge of God:

And when Allah said, “O Jesus son of Mary, did you say unto men, ‘Take me and my mother as gods, apart from Allah’?” He said, “Glory be to you be! It is not for me to say what I have no right to. If I indeed said it, you would know it, since you know what is within my soul, [whereas] and I do not know what is within your soul; you know the things unseen.” S. 5:116

The recorded words of the Lord Jesus stand in stark contrast to the statements of Muhammad, proving beyond any reasonable doubt that Islam does not come from the same God whom Christ came to reveal to those whom he so chooses.

What God does, Jesus does

In light of the foregoing, it shouldn’t come as a total surprise to discover that Luke proclaims that Jesus is God in action since he does the very things which the OT says God will do when he arrives on the scene:

“When He got out on land, a demon-possessed man from the town met Him. For a long time he had worn no clothes and did not stay in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and said in a loud voice, ‘What do You have to do with me, Jesus, You Son of the Most High God? I BEG YOU, don’t torment me!’ For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was guarded, bound by chains and shackles, he would snap the restraints and be driven by the demon into deserted places. What is your name?’ Jesus asked him. ‘Legion,’ he said–because many demons had entered him. And they begged Him not to banish them to the abyss… The man from whom the demons had departed kept begging Him to be with Him. But He sent him away and said, Go back to your home, and tell all that GOD (ho theos) has done for you.’ And off he went, proclaiming throughout the town all that JESUS had done for him.” Luke 8:27-31, 38-39

What makes this episode truly amazing is that these unclean spirits knew who Jesus was and were aware that he had the power to torture them, even though this was their first earthly encounter with him!

This basically presupposes Christ’s prehuman existence, i.e. the reason why these wicked spirits already knew Jesus’ divine identity is because they remembered him from the heavenly realm.

Even more remarkable is that the passage indicates that Jesus identified himself as the God.

For instance, notice how the man went around telling people what Jesus had done for him even though he was clearly told by Christ to proclaim the things that God had done. This strongly suggests that both Luke and the demoniac understood that Jesus was actually claiming to be the very merciful and compassionate God who had done these miraculous deeds.

Moreover, the language used here is actually reminiscent of the words of the Psalmist who wrote:

“Come and listen, all who fear God, and I will tell what He has done for me.” Psalm 66:16

Hence, Jesus does what the Hebrew Bible claims Yahweh does, obviously because he is Yahweh God Incarnate!

“One of Jesus’ best-known miracles was his casting out a ‘legion’ of demons from a violent demoniac (Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39). The demons immediately recognized Jesus as the Son of God (and called him by name!) and were ready to leave the man’s body without argument. After the demons left the man, Jesus told him, ‘Go home and to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you’ (Mark 5:19). Luke reports the same instructions, with Jesus’ saying, ‘Declare how much God has done for you’ (Luke 8:39). Mark and Luke then state that the man went home and began telling people ‘how much Jesus had done for him’ (Mark 5:20; Luke 8:39b, emphasis added). Evidently, it’s essentially the same thing: what Jesus did for him, God did for him. What is remarkable and telling is that this is true about everything that Jesus did: he was God in action.” (Bowman & Komoszewski, Part 4: Infinitely Qualified: Jesus Shares In the Deeds That God Does, 16. He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, p. 204; bold emphasis ours)

There is a lot more we could show from Luke-Acts to establish Christ’s essential Deity yet, in order to avoid making this rebuttal any longer than it already is, we will have to leave it at this.

To sum up, Jesus according to Luke is no ordinary human being. Rather, Luke clearly testifies (as do the rest of the New Testament authors) that Christ is God who became man for our salvation, the divine incarnate Son who perfectly resembles his Father in every way and can do whatever God does. As Bowman & Komoszewski put it:

“Given that angels bear some likeness to God as heavenly spirits and that human beings are created in God's image, elements of likeness or resemblance to God does not prove deity. Similarly, likeness to angels does not make one an angel. If, however, a figure possesses attributes that are unique to God, or if his likeness to God is complete, total, and perfect, those are cogent indicators that the figure is deity.

“The biblical case for Christ's deity from his attributes is complicated by the fact that Christ is not merely divine, but is a divine person who became a human being. The New Testament therefore attributes characteristics to the incarnate Son that are typical of all human beings. Thus, Jesus was born; he grew (and so changed); he experienced hunger, thirst, sleep, and other physical limitations; he even acknowledged limits to what he knew (Mark 13:32).

Nevertheless, the New Testament also attributes characteristics to Christ that show him also to be something far greater than a human being; indeed, they show him to be God. The totality of what it means to be God is embodied in Jesus Christ (Col. 1:19; 2:9). The Son is completely, perfectly like God the Father (John 14:9; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3). He existed before all creation and is eternal, uncreated, and immutable (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:15-17; Heb. 1:2, 10-12; 13:8). His moral character, in particular his love, is perfectly that of God (Rom. 8:35-39; Rev. 1:5). His omnipotence is implicit in his work of creation and providential sustaining of the universe (Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2-3), and that same power became incarnate, paradoxically humbled in weakness for our salvation (1 Cor. 1:23-24; 2 Cor. 12:9). He is omnipresent (Matt. 18:20; 28:20; Eph. 4:10-11) and even omniscient (John 16:30-31; Acts 1:24; Rev. 2:23), as someone who made the cosmos must be. Like God, he is beyond our comprehension (Matt. 11:27).” (Ibid, Conclusion: The Case for the Deity of Christ, p. 271; bold emphasis ours)

The Answer

Now that we have seen that Luke goes out of his way to affirm that Jesus is both fully divine as well as human, we are in a better position to understand the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman who had a bleeding disorder for 12 years.

Here is the pericope once again:

“While He was going, the crowds were nearly crushing Him. A woman suffering from bleeding for 12 years, who had spent all she had on doctors yet could not be healed by any, approached from behind and touched the tassel of His robe. Instantly her bleeding stopped. ‘Who touched Me?’ Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the crowds are hemming You in and pressing against You.’ ‘Someone did touch Me,’ said Jesus. ‘I know that power has gone out from Me.’ When the woman saw that she was discovered, she came trembling and fell down before Him. IN THE PRESENCE OF ALL THE PEOPLE, she DECLARED the reason she had touched Him and how she was instantly cured. ‘Daughter,’ He said to her, ‘your faith has saved you. Go in peace.’” Luke 8:42b-48

We will be able to better understand why Jesus asked who had touched him if we take into account the woman’s condition.

The Mosaic Law states that a woman who had a discharge of blood would be considered ceremonially unclean as long as the bleeding continued, and was therefore prohibited from coming into contact with anyone since that would make them unclean as well:

“When a woman has a discharge of her blood for many days, though it is not the time of her menstruation, or if she has a discharge beyond her period, she will be unclean all the days of her unclean discharge, as she is during the days of her menstruation. Any bed she lies on during the days of her discharge will be like her bed during menstrual impurity; any furniture she sits on will be unclean as in her menstrual period. Everyone who touches them will be unclean; he must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will remain unclean until evening. When she is cured of her discharge, she is to count seven days, and after that she will be clean. On the eighth day she must take two turtledoves or two young pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting. The priest is to sacrifice one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her before the LORD because of her unclean discharge.” Leviticus 15:25-30

This helps us understand why the woman tried to hide her identity from the Lord. She must have feared rejection since her condition meant that for 12 years she hadn’t come into physical contact with anyone. She would have been marginalized by her community who would have avoided her as much as possible in order to prevent from becoming unclean due to her bleeding disorder.

This further explains the woman’s trembling when the Lord asked who had touched him, forcing her to reveal herself in front of everyone. She was obviously afraid of being rebuked and rejected.

In light of these factors, the reasons why Jesus asked who had touched him becomes quite obvious. First, the Lord wanted to comfort her by reassuring her of God’s love and compassion for her, despite her condition. Second, the Lord also wanted her to publicly confess her faith as a witness to those around her, just as the text itself indicates:

“… IN THE PRESENCE OF ALL THE PEOPLE, she DECLARED the reason she had touched Him and how she was instantly cured…”

Christ wanted her to openly declare what had happened to her as a result of believing. This is precisely why the Lord went on to say that her faith had saved her, since salvation comes from believing in and confessing him. As the blessed Apostle Paul wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

If you CONFESS with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and BELIEVE in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. Now the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame,’ for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. ‘For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” Romans 10:9-13

Hence, Jesus wasn’t asking because he didn’t know since he immediately sensed that divine power had gone forth from him to heal, which in itself is a clear indication of his unique status as sovereign Lord, Judge and Savior:

“After coming down with them, He stood on a level place with a large crowd of His disciples and a great number of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon. They came to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those tormented by unclean spirits were made well. The whole crowd was trying to touch Him, because POWER WAS COMING OUT FROM HIM and healing them all.” Luke 6:17-19 – cf. 5:17-26; Mark 5:30

“He sent the message to the Israelites, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ—HE IS LORD OF ALL. You know the events that took place throughout Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were under the tyranny of the Devil, because God was with Him. We ourselves are witnesses of everything He did in both the Judean country and in Jerusalem, yet they killed Him by hanging Him on a tree. God raised up this man on the third day and permitted Him to be seen, not by all the people, but by us, witnesses appointed beforehand by God, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to solemnly testify that He is the One appointed by God to be THE JUDGE OF THE LIVING AND THE DEAD. ALL THE PROPHETS testify about Him that through His name everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins.” Acts 10:36-43

Rather, he asked in order to move the woman to a public declaration of her faith in Christ, a faith which resulted not only in her physical healing but also in her salvation.

It is now time for us to turn the tables against Williams in order to show him what happens when we apply the same criticisms to his belief in the omniscience of his god.

Related Articles

For a different perspective on Jesus’ encounter with this woman, as well as the issue of his omniscience, we suggest reading J.P. Holding’s article, “If Jesus is God, why isn’t he omniscient?”