Question: When Jesus was a human being, did He remember His pre-human existence, and if so, when did He gain that knowledge?
Answer: As to the first part of the question, Jesus evidently did remember His pre-human existence. He prayed to the Father that He might be glorified with the glory He had with the Father before the world was (John 17: 5). Again, He said to Nicodemus, “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” (John 3: 12). Most assuredly, His knowledge of His pre-human existence was a great aid to His faithfulness, for the Scriptures declare, “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53: 11). Father Adam did not have that knowledge, therefore he made a failure.
As to the second part of the question, it seems reasonable to assume that our Lord could not know of His pre-human existence before He was begotten of the holy spirit, except by natural means. His mother Mary would have told Him about His miraculous birth, about the angel that appeared to her, etc. The Bible says, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2: 52). Thus, He was developing until He was 30 years of age. We may suppose that He knew that He had been miraculously born for a purpose, for at 12 years of age He knew that He must be about His Father’s business as soon as the Divine arrangement would permit.
At 30 years of age we read that the holy spirit came upon Him and He was illuminated – “The heavens were opened unto him” (Matthew 3: 16). His mind was then made clear as to the Divine Plan and arrangement, and it was then that He received the memories of His pre-human existence.
But we might raise the question: How could Jesus remember those things of His pre-human existence, since He as a man had never been a spiritual being? God, who is omniscient, had the power to stamp or impress upon His brain the knowledge or recollection of His pre-human existence. The same is true of ourselves. When we arise from the grave we will not be given the same bodies that went into the grave. But God will somehow or other, in some miraculous way as far as our knowledge is concerned, transfer our knowledge, so that we, in the future, will remember the things of the present and have full knowledge of our present experiences. Otherwise our present lives would be of practically no avail to us; all the experiences of life would be lost.