As humans, we have the unique ability to make our own choices. It is a God-given gift that we have been entrusted with. It is also in our human nature to make use of our free will and to carve our own way in this world.
Human beings live in the world as the created and depending on the religious and spiritual beliefs that one may follow, there is a firm understanding that as the created, there must be a creator that exists. In many religious beliefs and spiritual systems, people believe in God as the creator.
In Christianity, it is believed that a unique intersection exists between God and humankind whereby as humans, we are destined to sin, stemming from the original sin that took place in the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve. However, through the Creator’s incomparable love for His creation, He sent His son, an extension of Himself, to atone for the sins of humankind. His son is Jesus Christ.
With the unique relationship that exists between God’s will and free will, and with the unique role that Jesus took on being both man and God, it leaves the question of whether or not Jesus had free will.
As a human, Jesus did have free will. However, He had a better understanding of God’s will as a divine being Himself. This means that although Jesus did have free will and He could have chosen to obey or disobey God’s commands, He had a better understanding of God’s will than humankind ever could.
Considering that this is a complex point of discussion, let us delve deeper into the understanding of Jesus Christ as a divine being as well as a human being to better understand His will and how it relates to God’s will.
Understanding Who Jesus Christ Is
In Christianity, the foundation of the entire faith rests upon John 3:16 which states that God, the creator of humankind and all things on earth, loves His creation so much, that He gave His son as a sacrifice to redeem our sins.
Jesus needed to take on a human form to enter this world as humankind could not, and still cannot conceptualize a God that exists outside of space, time, and matter. For that reason, God dwelt among humankind in the form of His son.
The role that Jesus took on is extremely unique in that he was entirely human, but also entirely divine. It is only God that can forgive sins as sin cannot exist in the presence of God. For that reason, Jesus was born exempt from sin, even through His conception. He was conceived through a spiritual act that was exempt from any sexual distortion.
Understanding God’s Will And Jesus’ Free Will
With Jesus occupying the same space of the divine and humankind, he had the unique ability to know what God’s will is, while understanding and freely able to practice free will. However, knowing what God’s will was, He was able to align His actions with that of God.
In John 7:17, while Jesus was teaching, He further emphasized that if one believes and chooses to follow the will of God, one will realize that Jesus’ teachings are perfectly in line with that of God.
Given the nature of Jesus’ existence and that many people doubt His divinity, it is seen that He is the only person on the earth who ever knew the full and true will of God, despite having his own free will.
This still begs the question of whether or not Jesus had free will. Let us unpack this question and the answer.
Through a logical understanding of circumstances and events, we can safely say that all human beings have free will, and since Jesus was a human being, we can safely conclude that He had free will during His time on this earth.
We can see and understand this in the events leading up to and foreshadowing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The first time it is seen that Jesus has free will is when He is tempted in the wilderness by the devil in Matthew 4:1-11. There is a reason that these events took place leading up to the crucifixion, and that was to clearly exhibit that He had the choice and the free will to choose to do certain things that the devil had offered. However, because this did not align with God’s perfect will, Jesus chose not to accept what was offered to Him by Satan.
In the scriptures, it is first seen that the devil offers Jesus to simply turn stones into bread. This is a tempting offer especially when one considers that at that point, Jesus had been fasting without food and water for 40 days.
The devil made this offer to Jesus knowing full well that if He so chose, Jesus could very well speak the words and turn stones into bread. But Jesus used His free will to align with that of God which was to retort with scripture instead of giving in to the temptation.
Next, the devil tempts Jesus by telling Him to throw Himself from a mountain, knowing full well that, according to scripture, God will protect Him. However, once again, Jesus uses His free will not to take up the offer posed to Him by the devil, but to align Himself with God’s will once again which is not to test God.
Lastly, Satan tests Jesus once more by promising Him all the kingdoms of the world if He bows down to worship Satan. Once again, it is clear to understand that Jesus had the free will to make this choice. However, He chose to align His choice and His free will with that of God which is to not worship anyone but God.
However, these are not the only points in biblical scripture where it is seen that Jesus has free will as a human being. In fact, the free will of Christ is quite clearly portrayed in Matthew 26:39 where Jesus, who is deeply troubled and overwhelmed, falls to His hands and knees and prays to God asking that the cup [of punishment and crucifixion] be removed from Him.
It is where we see that Jesus could have chosen to run away or hide from those who sought to crucify Him, but He prays that God’s will be done and not His own will. The flesh knowing the pain, torture, and torment He would face wanted this burden to be removed, but the spirit that was pure knew the only way to save humankind was to fulfill God’s will.
It is therefore clear to see that Jesus, being both man and God, had a unique understanding of God’s will and free will. He possessed both, and still continued to carry out actions that were in line with God’s perfect will instead of that which may indulge the flesh. This further emphasizes that Jesus was without sin because even though He had the choice to sin, He still chose not to in order to fulfill the perfect will of God.
With the unique gift of living between man and God, Jesus portrayed what free will really is and how to best achieve God’s will through it. It is for that reason that despite the ease of life Jesus could have lived, He chose to suffer for the salvation of greater humanity in the Christian faith. It is therefore unanimously agreed across the globe, among scholars and believers of faith and spirituality, that Jesus was the greatest man to ever live.