The Silver Spoon Jesus Left in a Drawer

Before 1700, common folk had wooden spoons. Well off people had silver. The saying, “He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth,” views a high-born person as knowing nothing about the struggles of life.

As the Son of God, Jesus has a silver spoon, his divine powers. But He was born under the law and usually left his silver spoon in a drawer.

Paul says, “God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law.” (Galatians 4:4-5) The church teaches that his life under the law was part of Christ’s suffering and humiliation.

Scoffers say, “Man is born under the law. Jesus was a man. It’s no big deal that he should be under the law like the rest of us. How can you say this was suffering and humiliation?

Believers also have difficulty understanding Jesus’ life under the law. We know Jesus is both God and man. We are prone to thinking it was easy for him to obey from his divine powers.

Jesus always had divine powers. We see them break forth at times, as when He fed thousands, raised Lazarus from the dead, cleansed lepers, and cast out demons.

Usually, however, Jesus voluntarily laid aside his divine powers and did not use them. While He could walk on water, he usually used a boat. While He could turn water into wine and multiply loaves and fishes, He usually used food and drink that were furnished naturally.

As Mediator, Jesus came “to redeem those who were under the law.” To mediate, Jesus needed to be under the law in the same way as those He would redeem were under it: as humans. So, in matters of temptation and obeying the law, Jesus “humbled Himself and became obedient.” (Philippians 2:8) While still having full divine powers, He voluntarily did not use them. He fought temptation under the law only by human power.

Jesus fought from weakness, in his humanity. He had to watch. He had to pray. He had to defeat the Devil and the world every moment. We face temptation for a little while, and then give in. Jesus suffered all the way, and He suffered using only humble power.

Beyond that, He suffered what we never do. He was tempted right at the point of his humility. He was tempted to quit using only his human powers. He was tempted to pick up and use his divine powers to save his holiness, to show his divine glory. He had an easy way out. He could have quit his office as Mediator. He could have abandoned us in our sin. He stuck with the hard way, all the way. He humbled himself for us, and kept humbling himself, to the bitter end that gives us a new beginning and destines us for a crown of glory. This is our hard-fought salvation.

So, let us not scoff or be confused, but believe and adore him, and receive the redemption He earned for us through his innocent, humiliated, suffering life.

About T. R. Halvorson

T. R. Halvorson was born in Sidney, Montana on July 14, 1953, baptized at Pella Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sidney, Montana on November 8, 1953, and confirmed at First Lutheran Church in Williston, North Dakota in 1968. He and his wife, Marilyn, are members of Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Sidney, Montana. They have three sons and six grandchildren. T. R. farms at Wildrose, North Dakota, and is Deputy County Attorney in Sidney, Montana. He has been a computer programmer; and an author, conference speaker, instructor, and consultant to industry in online legal information. He is among the authors of the religion column in the Sidney Herald at Sidney, Montana. He is the Editor of LutheranCatechism.com.

Comments

The Silver Spoon Jesus Left in a Drawer — 12 Comments

  1. Indeed– well said. Reminds me of a saying that I’m sure I’ll butcher, but was something along the lines of, one never knows the strength required to resist sin if one capitulates to it. Christ’s strength even in his humble humanity far outstrips our own, since no man seems able to resist sin in the measure of hours or days, while Jesus resists all sin throughout His entire life.

    Thanks for the mid-week reflection.

  2. I’ve always held to the doctrine that Christ was impeccable (incapable of sinning), but it sounds like you believe he could have sinned. I’m not sure what the official LCMS stance is on this topic…or perhaps I’m just missing the point of your article?

    I believe Christ suffered on levels I will never fully understand, and that he faced constant temptation, but I don’t think he overcame sin through force of will, but rather due to his divine nature.

    Would like to hear more on this, if you have time. Thanks.

  3. This was very insightful. I have believed that Jesus had the human capacity to be tempted and commit sins, but that He never sinned. Not once. This is why I maintain that the virgin Mary was herself a sinner, rather than born conceived without sin. While I realize that Luther himself did not distance himself completely from Roman Catholic views such as her purported perpetual virginity, I remain convinced that Jesus had the ability to sin.(But Praise God, He never sinned!) This article drove this point home for me.

  4. @Chuck Braun #3

    I think we distinguish between Jesus being tempted in his humanity, and yet because of His full divinity it is impossible for Him to fall to such temptation. According to Jesus’ divine nature, He is incapable of evil. According to His human nature, he is capable of suffering and death. Jesus’ two natures united in His one Person, we can say that He can suffer and die, and yet He cannot sin.

    Hope that was helpful.

  5. The wilderness temptation, the Gethsemane temptation, the forensic trials temptations, the cross temptation, and all Jesus’ other temptations, are real, and his submission and obedience are real.

  6. I’m not saying the temptations were not real. I’m just questioning whether Jesus denied the temptations through some force of will or simply by being fully God and therefore incapable of sin.

    This has profound implications (I believe) for the sanctified life of the Christian and whether or not we should hold Jesus up as an example for Christian living. He is, of course, the perfect example, but I posit that his life is not something we can even dream of achieving with regards to combating temptation and sin.

    I’ll quote this excerpt from GotQuestions.org (not a sight I generally recommend, but on this issue, I agree with them):

    “Those who hold to peccability believe that, if Jesus could not have sinned, He could not have truly experienced temptation, and therefore could not truly empathize with our struggles and temptations against sin. We have to remember that one does not have to experience something in order to understand it. God knows everything about everything. While God has never had the desire to sin, and has most definitely never sinned, God knows and understands what sin is. God knows and understands what it is like to be tempted. Jesus can empathize with our temptations because He knows, not because He has “experienced” all the same things we have.”

  7. @JWSkud #6

    But not only empathizing with our temptations, Scripture says that “He was tempted in every way we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15. So I guess in typical Lutheran fashion, the question is: what does this mean?

  8. I would say he knew the temptations, he felt the temptations, but as he did not have a sin nature, they were all sourced outside of him.

    Another way of looking at it: Jesus knows what it is like to be tempted, but he doesn’t know what it is like to sin. He knows what sin is, but it’s something he in incapable of committing.

    I need to research what the “official” LCMS position on this doctrine is…

  9. “The church teaches that his life under the law was part of Christ’s suffering and humiliation.”

    No more.

    11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
    12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
    Revelation 5:11-12

  10. Not sure if this constitutes the “offical LCMS stance” but Pieper writes this in his dogmatics (Vol 2, p. 76):

    The second question is: Was it possible for Christ according to His human nature to commit a sin? We emphatically deny this possibility. Not because of the sinlessness of the human nature of Christ in itself, for Adam, too, was created sinless and nevertheless succumbed to temptation, but because Christ’s human nature never existed as a separate person, but from the beginning constitutes one person with the Son of God. To assume that the man Christ could sin is assuming that the Son of God could sin, with whom the man Christ constitutes one person. They that assume the peccability of the man Christ thereby relinquish, whether they know it or not, the incarnation of the Son of God, the unio personalis of God and man, and substitute for it a unio mystica.

    Thus sayeth Piper.

  11. If Pieper says so, I believe it. And it IS the stance of the LCMS.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Now, the next question is this: as Christ was impeccable, what does it mean to tell someone they should be more “Christlike”? What does being “Christlike” look like, and is it even possible to begin to look like Christ? How can a man/woman look like God?

    I’ve always dismissed the evangelical call to be more “Christlike” because I think it sets an unachievable standard. Or, as Forde would say, “What would Jesus do? I’ll tell you what Jesus would do. He would die!” ha Always loved that line…

  12. This is a good discussion.

    One line of thought centers on the sympathy He has for us in his role as mediator. Sympathy knows the experience of another without becoming that other, and without necessarily responding to the experience the same was as the other does. So Jesus could, by sympathy, experience what it is for us sinners to be tempted, even though He did not sin, and even if it were impossible for him to fall into sin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.