Question: If Jesus was God, why did he pray... I mean, what was the need? Also, why did he need to eat and then presumably defecate? Explain Exodus 22:20 in this light.
“Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the Lord must be destroyed.” (Exodus 22:20, NIV)
Answer: When I consider your questions as a unit, it becomes clear that you are challenging the deity of Jesus Christ. But let me clarify what I believe to be your particular issues by restating your question: “Why does anyone who claims to be God need to pray to God? And why would an actual God bother with such mundane tasks as eating and defecation?”
I am not sure why you quoted Exodus 22:20, however. On one hand you seem to be challenging historical Christianity’s take on the New Testament. But by citing Exodus 22:20, you are giving some level of credence to the Bible… I mean, if you do not think that the Bible gives us an honest record, why use it as the basis for your question? Perhaps you are telling me that you accept the Old Testament but not the New Testament. Or perhaps you are just challenging Christianity’s congruency within its own book — reminding us that we should be destroyed for worshiping “another god”— and that’s just what we’d be doing by worshipping this non-God person, Jesus Christ. I’ll try to address all these issues.
We Christians believe that Jesus Christ is God — and no less a God than is God the Father. So why do we insist that he was human too? The rules of redemption say that only a human can redeem a human. Jesus had to become a human before he could redeem us — and redemption is the core of God’s program. How do we know this? The Bible reveals God’s purposes in redemption from the beginning to the end, and anyone who misses the purpose of the Book (or any book, for that matter) will never be able to understand its decontextualized parts correctly. Perhaps this is why you chafe against the idea of the God-man — because you do not know the whole word of God.
“The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” (1 John 3:8, NIV, emphasis mine)
“… join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,” (2 Timothy 1:8–9, NIV, emphasis mine)
(See also Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:20)
Before the beginning of time — before any of us were created — God purposed to create human beings in his form and likeness (Gen. 1:26). This required that we have free will, and our free will caused our fall into sin. But this was not just a fall; we sold ourselves to Satan! (John 8:44). So the question becomes, are we stuck being Satan’s property forever? Or did God have a plan? Well… God definitely had a plan.
But to execute this plan, God would have to follow his own rules, those being, the rules for redemption that he laid out in his word (and especially in the book of Ruth). A redeemer must be threefold qualified to redeem a property: he must be able to pay the price, he must be willing to pay the price and he must be related to the debtor. And Jesus Christ was thus qualified (uniquely qualified) to redeem humankind.
1. Jesus Christ was able to pay the debt of sin—being sinless.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV)
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15, NIV)
“And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?”… See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”” (Revelation 5:2–5, NIV)
2. Jesus Christ was willing to pay the debt of sin—being obedient to God’s purposes.
“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life…. I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again… ” (John 10:17–18, NIV)
“who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:14, NIV)
“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
(Hebrews 12:2, NIV)
3. Jesus Christ was related to us—the debtors to sin.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, NIV)
“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:6–7, NIV)
I realize that offering Bible verses to a skeptic might seem like a waste of time, but part of your challenge is to our congruency — and you opened the door via Exodus 22:20. Logic dictates (via the taxicab fallacy) that you cannot posit a question under the guise of one Bible verse having weight, but then dismiss the Bible’s veracity during the response. That being said, the Bible is clear about the God-man Jesus — what he did and why he did it. This should satisfy the congruency issue — but this does not mean that any of us understand it fully. The God-man concept (which is often referred to by the more formal terms: the theanthropic person and the hypostatic union) is unnatural. Furthermore, we have no other case like this for comparison’s sake. So, what do we have? God’s revelation, plain and simple.
The Bible is explicit: Jesus was always — and I mean through all eternity — fully God. But when he took on human form, he was also fully human… but he did so without ejecting his deity. So, even when you hang on to your deity, when you are fully human, you do human things; you laugh, you cry, you eat — and yes — you defecate! But you have the wrong idea about prayer.
When we pray to our omniscient God, we are not giving him information… I mean, he knows everything already! We are communicating, which is an aspect of our fellowship. So, Jesus did not pray to “inform” God or to “get” anything. He was merely talking to his Father. What could be more sensible? Furthermore, he was talking about the immanent suffering that would soon fall upon him — and only upon him — as the God-man, the Savior of humankind (Mat. 26:39).
(See more about Jesus praying at: http://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-pray-God.html)
To summarize, since Jesus was both human and divine by God’s design, and declared so by God’s revelation (that is, he “thought” about this, then told us about this), there are no biblical or logical problems with the God-man Jesus. In fact, this is the essence of Christianity — and great thinkers have been “chewing” on this for thousands of years without overturning it. Do you think that you are the one who will do this?
The only difference between Jesus’ humanity and ours was that he lived his whole life without sinning — and this was one of his unique qualifications to be the sacrifice for our sin. Does the God-man concept make any natural sense to us? Of course not! Our natural minds cannot conceive of such things. But we do not have to understand it fully to understand it enough — and that’s on you now, since you’ve been informed.
Come to this God-man Jesus today and he will save you. If you ignore him — and especially so by distorting God’s revelation — you will perish. So please consider your peril, and please reconsider your position.
See the following links for more information on how to avoid perishing: