Spiritual Growth and Maturity
The Gospel writes of the “hidden years” between the birth of Christ and His entrance into His public ministry. As far as the record goes, He has been silent until now. He is to be silent again for 18 years.
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
This verse sums up the first 12 years of the Savior’s journey among men.
41Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 42And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 43And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. 44But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. 45And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 47And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 48And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. 49And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? 50And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. 51And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
These verses report the Temple scene and Verse 52 gathers 18 years in its simple statement.
In Luke 2 Dr. Luke, the physician, presents Jesus as the Son of Man who came to seek and to save that which was lost. His humanity is emphasized in Hebrews 4:15 and shows that the Son of God lived a perfectly “human” life but was “in all points, tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
That is the reason that Luke alone, of all the Gospel writers, relates an incident of Jesus’ boyhood. Luke shows us that Jesus grew normally like any other boy. He gained knowledge as all children do: by observation, questions and instructions. The grace of God was upon Him. This is a glance at the personality of the child and indicates a proper and well-developed boyhood.
Every human being passes through certain definite stages of mental and physical development. So did Jesus. The Incarnation, God becoming man, was not make-belief. Jesus, the Son of God, grew normally like any other child.
After the presentation of Jesus in the Temple, however, Luke lifts the curtain only once to give us an actual incident from the later childhood of Jesus. This event took place when His childhood, from the standpoint of Jewish law and custom, came to its close. It reveals that His physical development was that of a boy of 12 years of age, but mentally and spiritually, He was beyond His years.
Jesus grew up in Nazareth. What a blessing the little boy Jesus must have been in that home in Nazareth. It is always a delight to parents to watch the growth and development of a healthy child. How much more wonderful to watch the unfolding of a perfect human developing as God the Creator first intended.
There were no defects in this child, neither heredity or acquired. Never before had a human infant shown such a perfection of growth in strength. Along with this physical growth there was a gradual, day by day filling with wisdom as well and it was very evident that the grace of God was upon Him. Here was the ideal of humanity being reached for the first time. He was the express image of God.
A good relationship between parent and child is one of the most important relationships that we have. If this relationship is not properly developed it can have a long-lasting, negative effect on the entire family. While the Scriptures do not give us a lot of detail concerning Jesus’ childhood and His relationship with Mary and Joseph, what we do have is significant.
Mary and Joseph were accustomed to making this annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem to observe the Passover. Jesus was 12 years old when this particular event took place. Jesus, like other boys of Nazareth, looked forward to the Feast. The law required every Jewish man to attend three great national feasts: Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. From time to time the pilgrims would break out into song, chanting some of the Psalms.
As they would come through the Kidron Valley and up the Temple Hill, they would chant:
Psalm 24:3, 4
3Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? 4He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity nor sworn deceitfully.
Jesus was the first one to enter the Temple who could really fulfill this verse of Scripture.
As they approached the Temple, they would continue repeating and singing the Psalms of Ascension.
One reason the Gospel of Luke includes this Passover visit is to let us know that at the age of 12, the Lord Jesus already knew He was the Son of God with a God-given message. It is no wonder, then, that the Temple had a deep fascination and attraction for Him.
Nor is it strange that when the caravan started back for Nazareth, Jesus stayed behind. Ministers often preach sermons on the subject “The Lost Christ” pointing out how possible it is to take it for granted that Jesus is in the company and yet to be without Him.
It is sadly true that Christians may go on taking it for granted that they are in fellowship with Him when actually they have drifted away from Him in heart. As the caravan traveled, there were so many people and being the mature little boy that He was, His parents just assumed that He was along with them.
After three days Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the Temple sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing and asking them questions. They were astonished at His intelligence, His discernment and His comprehension regarding the content being discussed.
Mary once had a glimpse of the Divine Nature of her child as foretold to her.
Luke 1:32, 33 (An angel speaking to Mary before Jesus’ birth)
32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Now she only felt a mother’s concern. Jesus, however, seemed surprised that they searched everywhere before coming to the Temple. They should have known that He would have been in His Father’s house. His concern over His Father’s business would draw Him there. There was, in fact, a Divine compulsion upon Him, a must, a necessity, a burning passion which finally took Him to the cross.
Mary and Joseph seemingly did not yet comprehend the full meaning of the Divine Sonship of Jesus. The above-mentioned Scripture, and repeated here again, indicates in Luke 2:51 that Mary kept in her heart all the sayings about Jesus during the Temple episode.
And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
The most notable thing about the life of Jesus as a teenager was the perfect respect and obedience, He gave His Mother and Joseph. There was no rebellion against authority on His part in the home where God placed Him. Even though Jesus was the Son of God, He claimed no exemption from any of the responsibilities, obligations and burdens of human life.
Jesus continued to make progress in every area of life, and He showed practical wisdom as He faced the more and more complex situations of life that come to the maturing young person and He found favor with God and with man.
To correctly understand Christ, His humanity must be understood, and His deity must also be accepted and believed. While the sacred writers proclaim the deity of Christ in the highest of language, they, with equal vigor, assert His total humanity.
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
As a man, He died on the cross, but as God He demolished the devil’s stronghold and arose to declare in
I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
This lesson should impress us with the importance of spiritual growth and maturity on our part. The need for spiritual growth never ceases for the Christian.