How can Jesus be God if Jesus is “obeying the will of the Father” and praying to God?
This question gets right to the heart of one of Scripture’s greatest mysteries—the Trinity. And we have to be very careful to get this right, because many heresies have risen over the centuries based on misunderstandings of this critically important doctrine.
Scripture teaches Jesus possesses a dual nature as both God and man.
Colossians 1:15-17 declares:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
“Image” means that Jesus is the “exact likeness” of God on the one hand, and God Himself perfectly manifested in the person of Jesus on the other hand. As verse 19 goes on to explain:
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him…
And, as John 1:1 plainly states:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
These are just two of many passages that describe Jesus as being God, yet also being with God as a distinct person. Human beings are spirit, soul and body. We can speak of each of them separately, or as ‘this is who and what I am.’ God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each can be spoken of separately, or as who and what He is.
The Scripture also makes it very clear that Jesus is fully human:
For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people (Heb. 2:17).
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5),
When God took on human form He did not cease to be God. However, as a human, Jesus willingly surrendered some of His abilities as God. For instance, while God the Father is still able to be present everywhere at the same time, God in human flesh could only be in one place at a time. As it says in Philippians:
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross (Phil. 2:5-8)!
As God in human flesh, Jesus placed certain limits on Himself. This necessitated that He communicate to God the Father just as any other human being needs to do. And in doing that, Jesus also demonstrated how human beings were originally designed to live in perfect harmony with the will of God through prayer and obedience.