Did Jesus Possess Faith and Hope?
Yes, as a true man, he was filled with all spiritual virtues and graces, including faith, hope, and love.
Peter Lombard asks in his Sentences whether Christ had faith and hope as he had charity (love).1 He comes to the conclusion that Christ did not possess faith and hope.2 [But, as we] imitate Christ, the man of faith . . . I think we must say of Christ that he possessed these three theological virtues.
Being fully human, Christ had the ability to grow in his graces: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). We receive various graces from Christ, such as faith, hope, and love, because he possessed these graces preeminently in himself.
Jesus is distinguished as the pioneer of our faith since he himself had unwavering faith during the course of his life on earth (Heb. 12:2). The book of Hebrews explicitly connects faith (trust) to Christ, attributing to him these words: “I will put my trust in him” (Heb. 2:13). No one believed God’s promises and lived his or her life in light of those promises like Jesus did (Heb. 10:37–38). Though his family doubted him, his disciples abandoned him, his friend denied him, and his fellow Jews rejected him, Jesus had faith to trust his Father, who would one day (at his resurrection) vindicate him (Isa. 50:6–9). Christ no doubt loved the words of Psalm 16:1, “Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.”
Jesus . . . had unwavering faith during the course of his life on earth.
As one who had faith, he also necessarily had hope. He lived constantly with the hope of better things to come. His life was a life of humiliation, but he hoped for his exaltation (John 17). Unchangeable promises were made to Christ. As the faithful last Adam, Christ not only believed that he would one day be glorified in the presence of his Father at his right hand but also necessarily hoped for that day to arrive. If he did not hope for the promises made to him, then he surely was not truly human.
Christ had a particular hope in his own resurrection (see Psalm 16). He knew he would die, but he also knew he would be raised (Mark 10:33–34). In the pain and agony of Golgotha, Christ never lost hope that he would be vindicated. He never lost hope that his temporal sufferings would pale in comparison to the glory that would be given to him (see Rom. 8:18).
The threefold cord of Christ’s life was completed by love. God is love, but Christ is love covered in flesh. Everything about Christ’s life falls under the category of love. He had love for his disciples: “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). He had love for his enemies: “And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’” (Luke 23:34). He had love for the crowds of needy people (Mark 6:34–44). But he had a special love for his Father: “I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father” (John 14:31). Indeed, he explicitly connects his love toward the Father with keeping his Father’s commandments. Jesus could not have endured all that he endured, as the obedient Son, if he did not have love for his Father.
Christ had to have trust in his Father, hope in his Father’s promises, and love for his Father in order to bestow on us those graces that are first in him. We can say with great praise that we are “so thankful for the faith, hope, and love of Christ; no hope without them.”
1. Sentences: On the Incarnation of the Word, 3:97.
2. Sentences: On the Incarnation of the Word, 3:112.
This article is an excerpt from Faith. Hope. Love. by Mark Jones.
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Faith, hope, and love have been referred to as the three divine sisters. We can think of them as three beautiful sisters joined together, hand-in-hand, swirling around as in a dance.