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He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,Hebrews 1:3 (ESV). I am interested in the phrase ‘he upholds the universe’.

My question is: How could Christ uphold the universe as a helpless babe and also after he had died before the resurrection?

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The Trinitarian solution (according to the ecumenical Chalcedonian Definition) is that starting with Mary's conception (Luke 1:35) the Word (the second person of the Trinity, John 1:1):

  • entered creation (more specifically our planet earth) which was made through him (John 1:3)
  • entered time (John 1:9) from eternity (John 1:2)
  • added on a human nature ("flesh") (John 1:14) while retaining his divine nature (John 1:18)

Thus Jesus the man has BOTH:

  • divine nature who is the light of men (John 1:4), whose mission is to enlighten (John 1:5, John 1:9), to rescue and to redeem our fallen human nature (John 1:12)
  • human nature who is to become our realistic example of how to love God and to love neighbors, fulfilling the expectation that Adam couldn't do, expectation that the chosen nation Israel couldn't do either, because they kept breaking the covenant.

It's Jesus in his human nature who

  • was born as a helpless a baby in Bethlehem
  • grew in wisdom and stature (Luke 2:52)
  • prayed to the Father in Gethsemane (Luke 22:41-44)
  • willingly suffered for our sins and died on the cross
  • was resurrected to glory by all 3 Persons of the Trinitarian God, and finally
  • exited our universe and our time back to eternity in heaven.

During Jesus's stay on earth (about 33 years), the Trinitarian God (who cohered as Christ's divine nature) was unchanged, existing as before, now, and future in His eternal realm governing and upholding the universe without missing a beat. In other words, Christ's divine nature did not cease being all-knowing and all-powerful, and he could therefore "[uphold] the universe by the word of his power" (Heb 1:3) by being the Word (the second person of the Trinity) as well as the human Jesus at the same time.

For a good explanation on how this "adding human nature" works (explaining the portion of the Chalcedonian definition which says "Two Natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably"), including how the definition reconciles his growing in wisdom and stature (Luke 2:52) with his omniscience in his divine nature, please watch the 11-minute interview video of Christian philosopher Eleonore Stump on Jesus as God.

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    I might call even further attention to the observation that Christ, outside His incarnation, is outside of time. To grossly abuse a science fiction analogy, it's quite possible He was "overlapping His own time stream". Except that that analogy only makes sense in the half, since the fully Divine Word is outside of time.
    – Matthew
    Feb 4, 2022 at 16:03
  • @Matthew I like the analogy of Star Trek Voyager Fair Haven episodes where the ship crew "entered creation" and interacts with "created" holographic character in their "two natures" where one can both be captain of the ship and a character at the same time, having the ability to suspend the program at will, edit the character, produced a "miracle", etc. Captain Janeway even fell in love with one of the characters, mulling over him while outside the program. That's how I visualize God outside time lovingly care for me. Feb 4, 2022 at 16:16
  • @Matthew But of course it's a lot more reassuring to visualize myself as a holographic character in the hands of God rather than Voyager's captain Janeway, who as benevolent as she is, she's still fallen. Just as Janeway can see the code behind Michael Sullivan, God also can see our every molecule and thoughts, past and future ! (Psalm 139). It's scary sometimes how much God knows about me, even the future me, but at the same time gives reassurance when bad times come as long as I stay on His side. Feb 4, 2022 at 16:27
  • @rhetorician Thanks for the edits! Feb 4, 2022 at 21:48
  • You're welcome, brother. Don Feb 5, 2022 at 4:18
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I give you John 10:18. "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again."

It is difficult to say exactly, but had you tried to kill that baby you would have found out that things are not as they seem. They say in physics if you tried to kill your own grandfather, something would always prevent you. This is all that and more. That body may have been helpless but the spirit within was not. The pathways laid out from before the fall could not be altered to the despite of the One who planned them. (Last sentence obviously derived from Proverbs 21:30 and Isaiah 14:27.)

But see, even struck dead, the power remained in Him to uphold all things; how much more so when alive.

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