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Matthew 8:5-10 (NLT)
 5 When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, 6 “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.”
 7 Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.”
 8 But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. 9 I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.”
 10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!

[Emphasis mine.]

If Jesus is God and therefore omniscient, how could He possibly be surprised by the Roman officer's words?

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"amazed" is not the same as "surprised". Maybe ask about the difference on english.SE? ;-) –  Jürgen A. Erhard Sep 11 '11 at 23:48
1  
@Jurgen: In the dictionary, "amazed" is actually a stronger word for "surprised". –  El'endia Starman Sep 11 '11 at 23:50
    
The NLT is not the most precise translation and is, therefore, not a good basis for the precise meaning of a particular word usage. –  Narnian Dec 14 '11 at 20:51
    
We should go back to the Hebrew and look at the word used there. Not the English translation. –  user1054 Dec 20 '11 at 13:33
    
@DanAndrews: An answer that uses such research would be great! –  El'endia Starman Dec 22 '11 at 0:54

2 Answers 2

up vote 15 down vote accepted

I don't have a definitive answer, but here are a few things to keep in mind about the text. When I consider some combination of these, it doesn't bother me that an omniscient God is "surprised".

  • The word in the text is not usually translated "surprised" as if it was an unexpected event. The sense is one of wonder or awe or marvel or (as in your translation) amazement. God being omniscient had to have known this ahead of time, but that doesn't preclude a sense of wonder.

  • Jesus was fully man. This means he felt and knew the things that men and know feel in addition to the things that God feels and knows. This could just the the human side of him expressing wonder.

  • The narrator of the story is NOT omniscient and, in spite of being guided by the Holy Spirit in the authoring of the text, is unable to know what was in Jesus mind and exactly how it worked. He described things as they appeared.

  • Jesus was deliberate communicator. If having a visible physical/emotional reaction to something would help his audience understand the situation better, I'm sure he could manage that. If we needed to know that that kind of faith was a wonderful thing, his marveling at it is a great way to mark it's importance.

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From Phillippians 2:5-7

Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself

The theological term for this is kenosis - emptying. Jesus undid his divinity while on earth, and thus chose to put himself in a place where he could be surprised.

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Exactly. From my reading of the New Testament, Jesus was not all powerful or all knowing while on earth but, as a pattern for us, relied on prayer and power from God. –  Wikis Dec 15 '11 at 11:33
    
@Wikis: What do you think of this wording: "Jesus put His omnipotence and omniscience 'on hold,' though He exercised them from time to time as His Father directed"? Jesus did not cease BEING all powerful; He did, however, relinquish His power when by "rights" He did not have to. IOW, He CHOSE to divest Himself of these rights, for a time and for the most part. We do see "flashes" of divinity in the many miracles and signs which emanated from His divinity, but we also see His humiliation at His arrest, where He could have asked His Father to send 72,000 angels to aid Him, but did not(Mt 26:53). –  rhetorician Jan 7 at 14:31
    
@rhetorician: possible, or possibly the "powers" that He had came from The Holy Spirit and on Earth He was "just human" (for want of a better expression). Suggest that, if you wish to continue, we go to Christianity Chat. –  Wikis Jan 7 at 14:34
    
@Wikis: I'm at a bit of a loss as to how to initiate a chat, but I'll give it a go, as our British counterparts say! Don –  rhetorician Jan 7 at 14:38
    
@rhetorician: I've posted you a chat message to which you can reply. –  Wikis Jan 7 at 14:46

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