Did Jesus have the ability to say "No" to the Father?


I asked a similar question a while ago as to whether or not Jesus had the ability to sin. The consensus was variations of “No, He didn’t because He had to fulfill His mission.” It also would have raised a number of issues because if Jesus had the ability to sin than so did Mary and that brings in the Immaculate Conception and Original Sin.

But the more I thought about it I still feel as though I am correct. Jesus showed He had a will of His own when He asked God to take His task away from Him. But because He always placed His will as secondary to the Father’s. But He HAD TO HAVE the ability to say “No. I am not doing it.” and walking away. If He did not have the ability to do that then you are saying that He was programmed and in a sense forced to do the Father’s will. If that is the case then there was no sacrifice on His part and as a result no forgiveness of sin. For any sacrifice to be legitimate the people involved have to know what they are doing and making a free choice to do it. He had to decide to place His will as secondary to the Father’s. He could not be forced into it.

I see our mission in the physical realm as learning how to love selflessly Like Jesus’s sacrifice love cannot be forces and remain love. By its nature it MUST be freely given. It is for that reason that I believe the physical realm exists. Here were are given the complete freedom to select to do any and all evil, even though that leads away from God and from love, because it is only when we have the freedom to do evil that we also have the free choice to reject that evil and do the good that leads towards love and God. The same would hold true for Jesus. For His sacrifice to be a true, honest and personal sacrifice He had to have the ability to say “No”.

I know the ripple effects of my way of thinking and the other doctrines that would be affected by this, but if this is true then those doctrines are wrong and they shouldn’t be doctrines at all.


Jesus was born without sin, that is why He did not sin. No other reason

Mary and the Immaculate conception has to do with Mary, not Jesus. please don’t conflate the two. It means Mary was born without sin, Mary is a human like you or I

Jesus had a perfect human nature, He was like us in all things except Sin,
Jesus was fully human and fully divine. this means Jesus experienced emotions just like we do, and felt pain, just like we do.

Jesus was fully capable of saying no. Look at how Jesus responded to the devil in the wilderness


There’s a difference between having some desire and having an ability to act on that desire. Jesus doesn’t even indicate that He wants to act against the Father and in fact explicitly says He’ll submit. He’s just pleading with God for a potential alternative, but there’s no indication that He desires to or has the ability to rebel.

That’s assuming Jesus was merely a created being. He isn’t. He eternally coexists with the Father as the Father’s only begotten Son. He is Himself God and has a Divine nature that cannot sin.

And He did. He chose to become one of us so that He could suffer horribly and die as one of us.

And what if they’re dogmas of the Church?


Right you are, Jesus HAD FREE WILL & perfect self-control


I don’t know entirely but I would assume Jesus as a human had free will just like the rest of us. So I would say yes, He had the ability to say “no” but chose to stick to the Father’s will


Monothelite heresy held that Jesus had only one will. The orthodox position is that he had two wills, one human and one divne. I believe the “your will, not mine” is even an important basis for the teaching. It is Jesus freely choosing to defer to the divine will.

Could Jesus have chosen otherwise? Yes and no. IDK. That would mean a divergence between the two wills, theoretically possible but impossible for all practical purposes.


Jesus had the beatific vision so I think he was like what we will be in heaven, if we make it there. In other words I think he could have sinned in theory but because he recognized it as evil he would never sin.

I like to use the analogy of good food vs rotten food. Nobody who recognizes the food as rotten would eat it when good food was an option but in theory they could. We don’t always recognize the food as rotten. Jesus did.


Jesus is a perfect example of human being. We are called to be obedient to our God. We are able disobey God, like Adam. We are given free choice, free will, but a perfect man in the eyes of God would be one who obeys Him and thus without sin.

Jesus is that one man. That is why he is unique, a man without sin. He has his own free will but because he is a perfect man, he would do what is good and righteous. And the Father’s will is prefect, good and righteous. Thus without any question, they are one in thought, word and action.


And his will was aligned with the Father’s. Gethsemani was his opportunity to discern what he really wanted, his human nature with its desires and fears or something that overrides all that, his deeper nature in tune with the Father, one with the Father.

We also have that option.


Depends on how you look at it.

He was human, therefore had free will.

Yet he was God, and incapable of doing that which was not Holy.

The best example was his prayer in the garden where he asked that the cup be passed from him, yet also proclaimed that the Father’s will be done.


One with the Beatific Vision never chooses to sin.


This brings up a question: being one Being with three personages, does God ever have 3 separate consciousnesses?


It seems you are asking about potency when you say “ability”. Yes, Christ had the ability to say no to the Father.
However, the disposition of his will is perfectly aligned to loving his Father so in that sense, he will not sin.

It’s a great mystery that can open up deep reflection.


My point is that EVERYONE is born without sin. We do not inherit the sins of our fathers no matter how far back that father was. We are born with what was given to our first truly human parents: a conscience which is the ability to commit sin. It was necessary for Jesus to have the ability to say “no” to the Father for His sacrifice to be a true sacrifice and not the action of a robot. I am not arguing that Jesus sinned but rather if He had the ability to do so.

I am fully aware of the fact that the Immaculate Conception applies to Mary. I am questioning whether it is a sound doctrine. If Jesus had the ability to say no to the Father, which He had to have for His sacrifice to be a sacrifice, then obviously so did Mary. Whether or not she did sin is not the question, but again did she have the ability. Did she have the ability to say no to the angel? If she did not then her response also was one of programming and not a free choice, which that also had to be.

Of course He had the ability to say no to the devil. We all have that ability. But as human beings we also have the ability to say no to God. Jesus had to have that ability as well or else He did not enter into His suffering willingly and there was no sacrifice.


you would be wrong, we are all born with the stain of original sin. We are all capable of moving towards God or away from God and into evil and corruption of our souls.

Jesus was not born this way. Jesus had no stain.

And it doesn’t work that way, we don’t inherit the original sin, we don’t have it in our DNA. we are finite, human imperfect creatures, we have original sin which is disobedience to God because Adam was disobedient to God.

Jesus being able to say no is not the same thing as Jesus having sin.
The fact Jesus could say no, does not create in Jesus the obligation to have original sin.

Are you Catholic? If you are, it is not for you to question. Its done and dusted as Mary is the Immaculate Conception, Mother of GOD and queen of heaven

Are you questioning if Mary is the Mother of God? if you are , thats a heresy you are committing if you are catholic

of course Mary could choose to say No to God, to the angel who came to ASK, not tell, ASK Mary if she would be the mother of Jesus. Of God.

and yes Jesus could have said no to His Father, but He didn’t. He said yes.

Whats your main issue?


On His ability to say no to the Father you said:

Again, if Jesus, as a fully human person as well as fully Divine, did not have the ABILITY to say no then there was no sacrifice. Look at the temptations in the desert. As I said before we cannot be tempted to do something which we have no ability to do. I am not tempted to fly to the moon because it is totally beyond my ability. I am tempted to drive across the country because I could do that if I wished. So Jesus must have had the ability to say yes to those temptations or else He was not tempted at all and the Bible is incorrect. He sweat blood when He was agonized but what He faced, knowing that He could walk away, and yet giving His will over to the Father. If He had no choice in the matter He would not have been so tortured by the thought of what was to come. He would have just accepted it.

Obviously I am questioning if they should be doctrines and dogmas of the Church. Are they, in light of the understanding that we are born good but with the capability and tendency toward evil and not born evil with a black mark on our soul, actually valid doctrines? I have not seen the concept that we are born with evil taught by Catholic schools for many. many years. It seems to me that because those doctrines were taught for so long that mental gymnastics took over and created what had to be logical based on that.

Can you give me an argument, which based on the position we are born good but can be led to evil rather than we are born with evil and in need of salvation, that supports the Immaculate Conception, Jesus having an inability to say no to the Father , infant baptism and other positions as well?


When was the first time that Jesus agreed to do the will of the Father? Was it before the creation of the universe began? Or was it in the Garden of Gethsemane?

Did Jesus know the plans for the creation of the universe before it happened?


God cannot sin by his very nature, but a human nature certainly can. Jesus did have a human will which willingly submitted to the Divine Will voluntarily. It was not subsumed or overpowered or coerced by the Divine Will.

In a sense, I think the human will could be said to have had the power to voluntarily say no, but God would not have assumed a human nature that would have ended up saying no. It’s difficult to speak on, but I think it is correct to say that the human will submitted of its own volition.


I said:
My point is that EVERYONE is born without sin

Your reply:

That is sort of mincing words and trying to play on both sides of the fence. My point is that we did not inherit any stain of “Adam’s” sin. Nor was his disobedience to God a sin at all. Before He ate from the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” he would have had no concept that eating from it and disobeying God was a “sin”. Knowledge is necessary for something to be sinful, and according to the story he did not have that knowledge until AFTER he ate from it. According to the story his first true sin would have been not taking responsibility for his own actions and blaming Eve for giving him the fruit. What we inherited was not his or the stain of his sin but rather the knowledge of good and evil which gave us the ability to commit our own sins. We inherited a conscience and it is that I believe that is the embarkation point for us becoming fully human. (And that IS most likely embedded in our DNA or genetic code).

I am not saying He did have any sin. I am saying we are all born without sin but can be led to commit evil. Jesus was led to commit evil but He refused to. When we are led to evil we do not always succeed in overcoming it.

Yes, I am Catholic with intellectual doubts of some of the side issues (issues not involving Christ) that are taught by the Church, and no I am not doubting that Mary is the Mother of God. I never brought that issue up.

If Mary and Jesus had the ability to say no to God then you are in fact agreeing with me. Both had the ABILITY to commit sin and refuse God but neither did. That is saying that they had the free will decision to choose between good and evil. And because they had that ability it brings into question the concept of the Immaculate Conception.

My main issue is that rather than inheriting some stain of sin from our first truly human parents we inherited their ability to commit sin. In other words we inherited a conscience.



(ten characters)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.