Did the Father and the Son talk before Bethlehem?

We would expect so – they definitely communicated while the Lord Jesus was on earth. In fact, it was His habit to commune regularly with His Father in heaven. But is there any evidence of conversations prior to Bethlehem?

Did the Father and the Son talk before Bethlehem?

The Scriptures that allow us to eavesdrop on divine conversations show us that the plan of creation and its subsequent redemption was the topic of discussion prior to Bethlehem. This does not surprise us as we are clearly told several things that have been prepared from or before the foundation of the world. We know from John 17:24 that Jesus enjoyed the love of God His Father prior to Creation. Ephesians 1:4-7 and 1 Peter 1:18-20 indicate that the fallen creature would only find hope in association with Him since He was the One who would be sacrificed to redeem the fallen creation. This divine plan was not opened up in complete clarity until Jesus was rejected as Israel’s Messiah. As this rejection became increasingly evident, the Lord Jesus was prompted to “utter what [had] been hidden since the foundation of the world” (Matthew 13:35 ESV).

Hebrews – Father speaking to Son

The Hebrew writer was especially attuned to these questions. In his first chapter, he weaves together various Old Testament references describing God the Father’s approval and recognition of the deity of God the Son. Father extols Son by commending His moral purity, creatorial power, and eternality as reasons for declaring Him to be worthy of the titles Son and Sovereign. Over and over again, throughout the letter, the Father affirms His eternal decree and approval that the Son is a High Priest, quoting Psalm 110. When exactly these declarations are made in chronological time may be debated, but the references are all taken out of the Old Testament and are expected to be understood as snippets of divine conversation outside of time.

Hebrews – Son speaking to Father

The Son reciprocates the Father’s pleasure. He tells the Father that He will tell his brothers (fellow-humans) all about Him (2:12) while He leads them in His praise. Further, in chapter 10, Jesus is quoted as being the source of the words of Psalm 40 as He receives His body upon entrance into this world. The Son delightfully promises to do the Father’s will and this is corroborated by the Gospel witness of His ministry on earth (consider John 10:17-18 ESV: “This charge I have received from my Father”).

Interestingly, when Jesus was here on earth, He expected the Old Testament experts to have given consideration to some of these passages. Quoting Psalm 110, He questions the religious leaders about the divine conversation to which David was privy, “The LORD [God the Father in this case] said to my [David’s] Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet” (Matthew 22:41-45 ESV). Jesus tellingly emphasizes that David called him Lord while he was in the Spirit, further indicating that the reality of a plurality in the Godhead could be discerned in Old Testament passages.

The early church used these passages and others to convince their fellow-Jews of the deity of Jesus. The words of Psalm 16 are seen as the faithful expression of Jesus’ heart as He enters into death, knowing that God His Father will vindicate Him in resurrection and ultimate glorification. Furthermore, God’s decree concerning the Lord Jesus as His Anointed Son (Christ) in Psalm 2 is referenced by Peter in his preaching (Acts 2:36) and by the early church in their prayers (Acts 4:25-28); also by Paul (Acts 13:33) as being God’s declaration of approval to all that Jesus has accomplished.

Less obvious unquoted Old Testament examples can be found as well. For example, the prophecy of Zechariah preserves a discussion between the Angel of the Lord and the LORD (God the Father) as to the length of Israel’s captivity and Jerusalem’s desolation (Zechariah 1:12). Is it possible that the Angel of the Lord’s lack of knowledge with respect to the timing of the prophetic program is in keeping with New Testament revelation or is this simply a mediatorial plea on behalf of Jerusalem? Jesus taught His disciples “concerning that day and hour no one knows . . . but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36 ESV), and again that “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority” (Acts1:7 ESV). If, indeed, the timing of world events has been left in the Father’s hand throughout the history of the universe, then we are left with an example of the interest that the Son has in the future regathering and glory of Israel despite His lack of knowledge (as the willingly submissive Son) with respect to the timings. 

Further, if this is the case, then perhaps the divine conversations prior to the moment of Creation in Genesis 1 are nuanced by the various ways in which the Godhead has delineated their roles. So, when God the Father said, “Let there be light”  (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:6), then the command to unfold the days of Creation was set in motion. The natural outcome to this decree was God the Son responding by making light (cp. John 1:3). Therefore, when Day 6 arrived, there is nothing surprising about the recorded divine conversation, “Let Us make man in our image”, because the triune God had been already carrying out the plan that they had previously devised and shared according to the Father’s timeline.

This short survey of both Old Testament and New Testament passages demonstrate that our Lord Jesus was an active participant in the divine conversations that brought about creation and the redemptive plan for the universe. From the first page of our Bible, we see divine interplay which explains the musings of the humbled Psalmist, “What is man, that You are mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4). The recorded sound bites are thrilling considerations of the interactions between true Persons whose individual roles and responsibilities are united in Being for the purpose of “bringing many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10).

To God be the glory!