“if Jesus is God, why would Satan bother to tempt him; how can God be tempted with food and power?
Furthermore, why did Jesus not want to take the “cup that was given” aka the crucifixion?
Jesus also said his followers would do greater works than his. How is that possible?
Jesus said not to call him good for only God is good. But isn’t he God?”
I got this cluster of questions from a very old friend of mine, from adolescence and younger. This is certainly more than just one question to be sure, but all of them, except for the question about “greater works than these,” can be answered in one sentence. Although I intend to give this short answer, I’ll elaborate a bit on that one sentence for the sake of interest. I have given the philosophy of science’s definitions for an absurdity in distinction to a mystery in another post. By way of review, an absurdity is something that is logically impossible, contradictory, or unintelligible. A mystery is something that has a logical base and hence is intelligible, but its full understanding extends beyond human capacity. To explain the mystery in full would be to deny it the status of a mystery. Therefore, I will give a simple answer, but this is not to say that this answer does not entail mystery or that “I’ve got it all figured out.” I do not want to give that impression. A long treatise could be written on these questions without exhausting the mysteries. I, however, want to note that the answer I give has been covered many times over the ages, maybe the best short treatise on the God-man issue in Jesus was done by Pope Leo the Great in 449 c.e. in his Tome of Leo. It is worth the read: https://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/incac1.htm. The answer is that Jesus is both wholly God and wholly man — this is, in technical and historical theological lingo, the hypostatic union. We must be careful not to think that Jesus would just use his divine capacities whenever he willed (Phil. 2:6). The many prophecies, especially from Isaiah (11:1–5, 42:1–2, 48:16, 49:1–7, 59:20–21, & 61:1–3), show that this “servant,” Jesus, was to act in certain ways and was especially to be dependent upon the Holy Spirit’s leading like a human. This is not to say that Jesus never uses His divine capacities, but it is to say that he wouldn’t use them just as He wanted because such would be in violation of the very prophecies He came to fulfill. Hence, being human, Jesus could be tempted; it was the Spirit, who “drove” Jesus out to be tempted in the first place (Mark 1:12). The divine nature of Jesus cannot be tempted, but since the text presents the temptation as real, and Jesus handles it like a human would by quoting the truth of Scripture back at Satan, it is not an illicit inference to say that the Spirit led Jesus there to be tempted as a man, and, as such Jesus did not function at that time according to His divine nature, but according to His human nature. Remember, I am not saying that Jesus was not divine at that time; I am saying that the capacity to which Jesus functioned in his divine nature was determined by the Spirit, and Jesus followed. As an aside, if Jesus just used His divine capacity often or whenever He wanted He could not be an example to us since none of us have that capacity like Him to just use a divine nature. On a practical point, then, it is imperative to note that Jesus’ living mostly according to His human nature and being led by the Spirit sets the basis for understanding Him as an example that we should mimic: we too should live by the Spirit, relying on God to direct us in our human capacity. It is Jesus’ dual nature, wholly divine, wholly human, that answers all of the questions except for the one about “greater works.” What can be said of this? Although it is fashionable to think or speak of Jesus “raising Himself” to life, and Scripture certainly affirms this, it is perhaps more important to make plain that the Spirit was the Enlivener and God the Affirmer of the resurrection as Romans 1:4 makes plain: according to the Spirit God declared Jesus the Son of God in power . . . . Hence Jesus teaches His disciples that if they have the faith of a mustard seed they could say to the mountain, be picked up and planted in the sea, and the mountain would obey. It may be too obvious but “greater” can refer to either quality or quantity: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:12 – 13). Two comments are needed on this text: 1) if greater means quantity (Greek term for “greater” is megas), then we can stop because this sufficiently answers our question, and 2) even if megas (“greater”) means quality or degree — although it is hard to imagine a miracle greater than eschatological resurrection life entering the middle of history — then it is not to be missed that the performance of the disciple owes to Jesus anyhow. The text makes this plain as day: “and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” The greatness of the works of any disciple first depends on Jesus’ successful ministry and work of redemption; hence the vitality and capacity of the “greater works” owe to Jesus’ work, and they owe to Jesus’ blessing in the moment as well, as Jesus says above, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do.”
So it is rather obvious that Jesus is behind all the works, whether His or ours.
Question: When Jesus told the disciples he was going to go to Jerusalem and end up being killed, Peter said far be it from thee Lord. You don’t have to do that! Jesus replied, get thee behind me Satan …! I don’t remember the exact quote but it is germain to the question. Was he talking to Peter? And if so, why did He pray for the cup to be removed from Him at Gethsemene? In doing so isn’t He asking for the same thing Peter told him He could and should avoid? Why didn’t He just tell Peter, God’s will be done instead of telling Satan to get behind Him? There must be a reason and I think His coming as the Second Adam with the complete nature of a man is a key to shedding light on at least some of the mystery.
Wpuser, I ended up writing so much in response to your question that I decided to turn it into a post itself. I will post it in just a bit, in honor of your question.