And Jesus Grew
Sunday, December 27, 2015
39 And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth. 40 And the Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
41 And His parents used to go to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; 43 and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. And His parents were unaware of it, 44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day's journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 And when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, looking for Him. 46 And it came about that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them, and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. 48 And when they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, "Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You." 49 And He said to them, "Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?" 50 And they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. 51 And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth; and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
52 And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. NASB
I suppose we are all aware that the four gospels in the New Testament have very little information about the life of Jesus between his birth and the beginning of His ministry at 30 years of age. Why so little? Actually there are books that were written that do include more information.
When the leaders in the early church began to make decisions about which books to include in the Bible that would be accepted as authoritative for the church those books were excluded.
The reasons they accepted the books they did was because they were written by one of the apostles, or by a close associate of those early church leaders.
There are other books like the gospel of Thomas which was rejected by those early church committees. Most probably because that book was not actually written by Thomas the disciple of Jesus.
As I look at what Luke included in his account of the birth and early life of Jesus, I ask myself why he might have included what he did and why he did not share more of what he had learned. As I mentioned last week, I like to think that he had gotten in touch with Mary, the mother of Jesus. At his death, Our Lord had entrusted his mother's care to John. Luke would have had a treasure trove of information about the life of Jesus from those two.
However, Luke jumps from the first few days of Jesus' life to this episode that we read together this morning. Joseph and Mary have returned to Jerusalem from Nazareth as was their custom when this episode occurred.
When they could not find him with the caravan they were traveling in on their trip home, they ended up going back to Jerusalem and found him speaking with the teachers and lawyers there in the temple. There are several things that I would like to point out here today about Jesus.
Verse 40 tells us that Jesus “continued to grow, to become strong and to increase in wisdom. The grace of God was upon Him.” This verse is all that we know of Jesus from his infancy until he is 12 years of age. From this we know that Jesus was not just another child growing up in Nazareth. People noticed that he had a wisdom that was remarkable. The grace of God was evident in his life.
To illustrate this further, Luke tells of this episode in the temple in Jerusalem. He is found by his parents listening to and teaching those in the temple. People who experienced this event were amazed at the maturity of his interactions.
His mother and father asked him why he had worried them so by staying behind when their caravan left for Nazareth. His simple answer was that they should have known He would be in His Father's house doing His father's work.
Luke goes on to point out that Jesus, in humble obedience and out of respect for the customs of their day and from the respect for His parents he left with them and “continued in subjection” to them until he was 30 and began his three year ministry there in Palestine.
For us, we may not understand why He waited so long. For the Jews of His day this would have been expected. Young men did not reach of the age of majority until they were thirty years of age. So at what age do we consider a young person to be of the age of majority? Or another way to ask it is to ask at what age a person is no longer a minor?
Luke's single line that covered the years from age 12 to 30 tell us a great deal about Our Lord. He lived to bring honor to His Heavenly Father, and to do so He lived a life of respect for His culture, but also one of respect for his parents.
The only other indication from Luke, who had said he had researched diligently when he wrote the gospel and the book of Acts, about the time period from age 12 to age 30 was this from verse 52. Jesus “kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
Simply put, Jesus grew. He grew like you and I grew. . . from birth to our teens and from our teens to our adulthood. We grow in stature, or physically. Hopefully we also grow in favor with God and with other people.
Jesus was fully God and fully man. What we need to know about Jesus in those intervening years was shared by Luke. I believe he felt that what we need to focus on is what Luke shared. Jesus grew up. He grew physically and He grew in His relationships with people and with His Heavenly Father.
We are to grow as well in our relationship with God. He wants us to mature and become more like His Son. We need to live to please God, and we need to live with respect for our parents, our leaders in the faith and in life.
Luke's mentor, Paul, told us that faith in Christ means that we accept the truth about Him. Faith is not a feeling. Faith is a decision to place our trust in God. God is worthy of that trust. The opposite of faith is to refuse to put our trust in Him.
When Jesus left his throne and His glory in heaven with the Father, He entrusted Himself to God. As a human being he grew in his relationship with God. He was not born fully mature, but, rather, He faced life as we must face it: one day at a time.
We are offered many opportunities to refuse to trust God to lead us and to grow us. This was demonstrated first by Adam and Eve in the garden. The enemy came to them and encouraged them to turn away from the trust they had in God. They gave in to that temptation and sought to improve their situation without God's help. God allowed them to do so and then went to find them.
He did not desert them, but came and sought them out and gave them the opportunity to acknowledge Him and His right to lead them and to be their Lord and their Judge. He forgave them and in an act that pointed to the shedding of the blood of His Only Begotten Son, covered their nakedness for them. Their shame was dealt with. The price for their sin was paid by God Himself. He paid that price for each of us.
He calls us to return to Him and put our trust in Him to love us and to lead us. He calls us to trust Him to forgive us and to help us to grow and learn as we live out our relationship with Him.
We must realize that God is calling us to surrender our lives to Him. He has the right to tell us how to live. He has the right, and only He has the right, to be our judge.
Jesus lived a life of respect for the Heavenly Father and He demonstrated that respect by His behavior during the years of His minority. The Lord of the Universe came to live as a person and lived a life of respect and honor for His culture and for His parents.
He demonstrated for us how we, in our turn, are to live. We are to grow in grace. We are to grow up and put off the old man who lives for self. We are to put off the old man that would reject the faith we need to have if we are to continue in a relationship with God.
Living in a relationship with God is an ongoing process. It is not enough to put our faith in a past experience. Telling ourselves it is enough to have been saved and sanctified as a youth misses the point of being born again. We must be living out our trust in God each and every day. We are most healthy as Christians when we live out our faith in every day experiences.
WE are to grow in grace, in favor with God and man.
WE are to make a choice to believe that God loves us and that the death of Jesus Christ is proof of that love. That love is not conditioned on what we do. He loves us period. All He asks is that we choose to believe that He loves us and that we admit that we need Him. He calls us to quit trusting in who we are and to begin trusting in who He is.
He became one of us so that we could become one with Him. We are to grow in our faith and to set aside our fear.
Jesus led the way. HE grew.
The human part of Jesus entrusted himself to His Father. We are told that He suffered like we suffer and yet lived without sin.
Are you trusting your feelings today, or are you trusting God? Are you growing in grace today?