Life of Christ 15
Jesus grew. For some reason, there is a tendency to think of Jesus as being hatched, full-fledged, from the womb, wearing a robe, with long hair dangling down, and his hands held out in blessing. Well, He wasn't. Jesus grew.
At the risk of sounding heretical, one of the things I want to do with this series this year is to show you the humanity of Jesus. Yes, He was God, but He was just as much human as He was divine (I Timothy 2.5) and that is all too often forgotten. He got hungry (Luke 4.2). He got thirsty (John 19.28). He got tired (John 4.6). He got sleepy (Mark 4.38). I love the way Hebrews phrases it, careful to incorporate His humanity while not denying His deity, '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 (Hebrews 4.15).
I believe in the omniscience of God, but I also believe that Jesus laid aside this omniscience when He clothed Himself in flesh (Mark 13.32). Luke said, 'And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him' (Luke 2.40). I realize it is somewhat controversial to assert that Jesus lay aside some of Deity's attributes but that is the only conclusion to which I can come. He had to learn to crawl, and then walk, and then talk. He had to learn how to tie His sandals and how to brush His teeth. He had to learn the alphabet, and how to read. He had to study in school just like you did. I realize He never sinned, but just because He didn't disobey His parents doesn't mean that He stepped from the manger knowing everything. He still had to be taught, and He still had to learn.
He would have learned first at home, being taught to read by Mary. Then His schooling would have shifted to His local synagogue in Nazareth where the course of education would have been almost exclusively religious. This was not because He was some gifted and spiritual boy, but simply the custom of the time for observant Jews such as Joseph and Mary were. He clearly applied Himself, for as an adult He spoke Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew, and He knew the Law and the Prophets inside and out.
Most of all, He grew spiritually. In this, I think, He was different from us, for we grow two steps forward and one step back. He, on the other hand, never had to conquer a sin. He never took a step back. But He did have to mature, and mature He did.
He grew in spirit. We are triune creatures, consisting of a body, soul, and spirit. Your body is the part of you that is sitting in that chair reading this. Your soul is the part of you that looks out behind your eyes, and thinks and feels and experiences. Your spirit is the part of you that communicates with God. In those quiet years in Nazareth, the child Jesus grew spiritually. He learned from the Torah what God expected of Him, and He learned to yield Himself to God. At the same time, He developed His ability to talk to God in prayer, to communicate with God in His spirit.
Luke also tells us He grew in wisdom. Wisdom is seeing life like God sees it, from His perspective, so that you can make the correct choice when you are faced with a decision. Wisdom is knowing how to do something. Jesus gradually matured in wisdom to the place where His entire perspective on life was God's perspective. He was filled with wisdom.
In the context of the same verse Luke mentions that the grace of God was upon Him. Grace enables Him to serve His Father. Grace filled His lips. Grace helped Him to deal with the imperfections of every person around Him. He grew in an atmosphere of grace. He came to understand clearly the relationship between grace and the Law. He cultivated the Christian graces like faith, boldness, knowledge, diligence, love, mercy, and generosity. He grasped the grace necessary for a perfect young man to remain humble.
Can you imagine what His parents thought and felt as they watched Him mature, never sinning, never taking a step back, just constantly growing and growing and growing? Can you imagine being His siblings? How they must have struggled with jealousy, never being able to measure up to their older brother. In their turn, Joseph and Mary must have struggled a fair amount in parenting, dealing with such unequal children at home, especially when your first is the perfect one. No one knows us better than those who share the same home with us, and although there was clearly a measure of hostility between Jesus and His siblings during His lifetime, in the end they also came to believe on Him. How humbling that must have been for them, to put their faith in their own brother. He must have been completely real, completely genuine, and completely filled with grace and truth as He grew else surely they would have known. One of the greatly ignored evidences that He was not a fraud, and was Who He claimed to be is that His own siblings eventually believed on Him.
The Bible is largely silent about these years, but to me they are precious years. They show His humanity while not detracting from His deity. And in that very humanity there is such an example for you and I, a practical, real life, day by day kind of example.