Kid Jesus – Awesome God

Posted: June 6, 2016 in Luke, Uncategorized

Luke 2:39-52, “Kid Jesus – Awesome God”

Kids are funny.  One moment they can be insanely irritating, and then be instantly adorable.  They can raise your blood pressure and break your heart all at the same time.  Mary had her own hair-whitening moment with Jesus – one of the few events we know about His childhood at all.  Yet even as a Child, Jesus was still Jesus.  He was still the awesome God, worthy of all wonder and astonishment.

There have been tales about Jesus’ childhood – some of which have made it into movies recently in the theater.  The problem is that those tales are taken from false gospel accounts, usually written by ancient Gnostic heretics under a presumed name.  In the so-called “Infancy Gospel of Thomas,” the 5-year old Jesus is shown forming a group of 12 sparrows out of clay and giving them life on the Sabbath.  Later, it shows a boy hitting him, and Jesus responds by cursing him to death.  And that’s only the first 5 verses. These and other bizarre tales have been imagined of the Boy Jesus, and they all have that much in common: they are imaginary.  It’s all fiction, dreamed up by men, but not given to us in the Bible. 

What does the Holy Spirit actually have to say about Jesus’ childhood in the Scriptures?  Not much – but enough to let us know that He was someone amazing.  Jesus stood out among the rest, leaving the people around Him overwhelmed & astounded.  We don’t need fiction to be amazed at Jesus; He’s enough to do that all by Himself.

Thus far in Luke 2, we’ve read of Jesus’ birth – how He was born in Bethlehem, announced by angels, and witnessed by shepherds.  God had come among men, and this was worth the highest celebration.  We’ve seen Joseph & Mary obedient to God in Jesus’ naming & circumcision, as well as Simeon’s praise over witnessing the Messiah of Israel and Anna’s testimony of Jesus to all who would hear.  To this point, Jesus was not yet two months old and everything was still brand-new to everyone involved.  What would happen as time progressed?  Would Jesus show any noticeable difference from the rest?  Would His earthly parents begin to take things for granted as they settled into a sense of normalcy? 

Again, we’re not told many things, but we see this much: even as a Child, Jesus was still awesome.  Yes, He would show Himself to be different – and soon, He would show Himself worthy of worship.

Luke 2:39–52

  • Growing in wisdom #1 (39-40): prologue

39 So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth.

  • As he’s done throughout the book thus far, Luke continues to write of an obvious regard for the law by Joseph and Mary.  They took nothing for granted, but desired to honor the Lord in every respect possible.  These two people were as faithful as possible to the God they worshipped.  As much as they could, they kept the law of God.  Obviously they weren’t perfect – they were still in need of forgiveness & a Savior.  Even breaking the law in one respect is to be guilty of breaking the whole thing (Jas 2:10).  One lie makes someone a liar in need of forgiveness – one act of pride is still an act of rebellion against God, etc.  Even so, according to the customs of the day, Joseph and Mary lived righteously.  In heart, they lived sincerely.  They were the furthest things from hypocrites that could be found, and are wonderful examples to the rest of us.
  • When we last saw the family, they had been in Jerusalem receiving the blessing and acknowledgements of prophets at the temple.  Now they returned to Nazareth in Galilee.  They were far from scholars of Jerusalem & their ancestral home of Bethlehem.  They returned to the quiet country life, where Jesus would be raised virtually out-of-sight of the religious elite.  According to Matthew, this was a fulfillment of prophecy (Mt 2:23), but certainly there was much practical value in this.  Jesus would live intensely under a microscope for 3 years – His earthly family could be spared that for much of His life.  Jesus’ boyhood obscurity was surely a gift of mercy from God.
  • Chronologically, this is difficult to place within the life of Jesus.  It could possibly refer to the first 1-2 years of Jesus’ life, but it still needs to be reconciled with the flight to Egypt, as recorded by Matthew (Mt 2).  We need to keep in mind that neither Luke nor Matthew gives a comprehensive history of every single year in the life of Jesus.  Many years were glossed over, and the individual authors paid attention to the events that fit their themes the best (and that was given them by the direction of the Holy Spirit).  It’s fully possible that Joseph and Mary could have lived in Bethlehem for 1-2 years until the point that they were found by the Magi, after which they went to Egypt (Mt 2:8-12) – or they could have travelled back and forth from Nazareth to Bethlehem for some untold reason.  The point: nothing in either gospel account rules out the other, so although we might not know how it all fits precisely together, we need to give the Bible the benefit of the doubt that it actually does fit together.  The Bible has been proven accurate in every other historical question to simply disregard it when we come across a question to which we don’t yet have an answer.

40 And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

  • Even as a Child, Jesus was known for His spirit, His wisdom, and for having the grace of God.  This is rare enough for adults – much less in grammar school students!  Jesus was recognizably different from a young age, which ought to be expected from the Son of God.  He was, after all, innately different.  But what was innate in Him is available to us, because of Him.  Do people recognize our spiritual strength (moral character), our wisdom, and the evidence of God’s grace/favor in our lives?  The same things said of Jesus could (and should) be said of us.  After all, through Jesus we have received the spirit of adoption (Rom 8:15).  When we received Jesus as Lord, we received the right to be the children of God (Jn 1:12).  Thus the things that were said of Jesus’ human nature ought to be able to be said of us as well.
  • If not, why not?  What gets in the way?  Identify it & get rid of it!  Whatever it is, it’s not worth it.  All the money in the world cannot compare with the spiritual riches of following Christ today.  Dare we think we can make our lives more stable & secure than what our Heavenly Father can do, if we truly surrendered all to Jesus?  Follow in His footsteps – grow in His grace – trust Him with everything, depending as much upon the Heavenly Father as did the Boy Jesus.
  • Lost and found in Jerusalem (41-50)

41 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.

  • Again we see Joseph’s & Mary’s dedication to the law of the Lord & their desire to do the things that pleased Him.  The law commanded people to gather at the Lord’s chosen location in order to sacrifice the Passover (Dt 16:6), so that became Jerusalem once the temple was built.  Luke writes that the family came every year, though this needs to be balanced with their flight to Egypt.  Obviously they would not be able to go to Jerusalem until God allowed them to come back to Judea after the death of Herod (Mt 2:20).  According to most scholars, Herod the Great died in 4BC – though there is reason to believe that he died in the year 1BC, due to the fact that his death was linked with a lunar eclipse.  Either way, Jesus would still have been very young when Joseph was able to return to Judea and begin his yearly Passover trips to Jerusalem.
  • It was when Jesus was 12 years old that the events of our text took place.  Culturally speaking, Jesus was still considered a child.  The bar mitzvah ritual did not necessarily apply to Jesus (it doesn’t appear in Jewish writings until the Talmud & likely developed sometime after the 1st century), but even it does not take place until a Jewish boy reaches 13 years of age. Even so, at 12 years old, a Jewish boy was still deep in his studies, learning the laws, customs, and rituals of his people.  According to some scholars, this was also the age a boy was expected to start learning the trade of his father.  No doubt Jesus learned the trade of a carpenter, but He learned far more as He learned of His true Heavenly Father!

43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; 44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.

  • First things first: this is not child neglect!  That Joseph and Mary didn’t notice Jesus missing is not a sign of bad parenting.  Today, you can’t let you child walk alone to a park without the danger of CPS knocking on your door, but it wasn’t always like that.  It wasn’t that long ago that kids would ride their bikes far & wide with the only requirement of being home before supper.  It was even more the case among the ancient Jews.  Those travelling together from Nazareth would have watched out for one another, and the group could be trusted to keep everyone safe.  Besides, Joseph & Mary likely had younger children by this point, and their attention would’ve been given to them, knowing that their wise, mature, eldest Son could watch out for Himself.  The possibility of Jesus being left behind in Jerusalem would’ve been the furthest thing from their minds.  With other kids, maybe…but not Jesus.
  • Yet that was exactly what happened.  Towards the end of the first “day’s journey,” they began looking for Jesus (perhaps for supper) and they couldn’t find Him.  No one had seen Him anywhere.  No doubt, that’s when panic set in.  Many parents can relate, having forgotten to pick up their child at a certain time, or being unable to locate them in a playground, etc.  The feeling of utter dread descends like a massive sludge upon your shoulders and you can think of nothing else besides getting to your child.  Compounded with all of that was the importance with this Child.  Surely by this point, the daily routine had set in & the Holy Family looked at Jesus like any other kid, but they could never truly forget that their eldest Son was far different from the rest.  He was the Son of God.  No child needed to be lost, but especially this one!
  • What did they do?  The only thing that could be done: go back to Jerusalem in an attempt to retrace their steps to find Him.  They had no cell phone on which to call – no 911 system available to put out an Amber Alert.  All they could do was to look & to pray.
  • Interestingly, nothing is recorded of any prayer from the parents.  Obviously Luke didn’t have to write about it in order for it to have happened, but this crisis would have been an natural time to pray!  Fear would tell us to search first & pray later.  Faith tells us to pray first, and search second.  We tend to operate out of panic & fear, but when we do, that is what ends up controlling us.  When we operate out of faith, God takes care of our fears.  Prayer reminds us that our circumstances are in the hands of God, and that He’s fully in control.  Faith reminds us that we serve the Living God, and He can be trusted to get us through every circumstance.  Thus faith gives us peace…exactly what we need during the times the world would tell us to panic.  Philippians 4:6–7, "(6) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; (7) and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

46 Now so it was 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 astonished at His understanding and answers.

  • Why did it take “three days”?  They had gone one day out, it took one day to return, and they spent one day looking for Jesus.  Three days.  Is it coincidental that when Jesus died on the cross, He spent three days out of sight before He was seen again?  Perhaps; perhaps not.  Either way, it’s picturesque.  The disciples spent three days in fear, despite knowing who Jesus was & what He had prepared them to face.  Yet on the third day, they saw Him again, risen from the dead, to their great relief and joy.  Likewise the parents spent three days in anxiousness and fear, even while knowing that Jesus was the Son of God & that God would never let anything happen to His only begotten Son.  Yet upon finding Him, they would have had great relief.  (When it comes to Jesus, we never have to fear!  He is risen from the dead & ever victorious over every enemy.)
  • When they did find Jesus, they found Him in the middle of deep conversation.  Jesus was “in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers,” talking with the premier religious scholars of the day.  Who they were, we’re not told, but surely these were the best of the best.  After all, it was Passover & the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  Everyone came to Jerusalem at that time, and teachers often made themselves available in the terrace of the Temple to answer questions from close of morning to the evening sacrifice (re: Edersheim).  The best teachers of Israel would be there – and at least some of them were conversing with Jesus at that very time.  Luke writes that Jesus was both listening & asking questions, but never records what questions Jesus asked.  Was the Boy Jesus asking for information as a top student?  Or was He asking questions of the teachers for them to clarify their teaching, thus actually being the One to teach them that day?  Unfortunately, that’s one more historical detail that will remain unanswered until heaven.
  • We might not know the subject of the conversation, but we do know the response.  They “were astonished at His understanding and answers.”  “Astonished” is an accurate translation, but it seems to just barely cover the idea.  The Greek scholar AT Robertson describes the situation: “they stood out of themselves as if their eyes were bulging out.”  The word speaks of utter confusion, when things make little to no sense.  The idea is that these scholars didn’t know what to make of Jesus.  They had instructed many students in their combined years, but they had never come across a Boy like this!
    • Jesus defies our expectations!  He’s totally beyond what we can conceive. Come up with your mental picture, as best as you can from the teaching of Scripture, and then multiply it.  Keep multiplying it.  He’s all that & more!  How could He be any different?  After all, though Jesus is fully human, He’s also fully divine.  Jesus IS the Infinite, squeezed into human flesh.  This is who He has always been, even if He personally grew into that understanding gradually.  It’s no wonder that He astonished the teachers around Him.  The surprise would have been if He didn’t astonish them!
    • Have you been astonished by Jesus?  What was the result?  We’re not told what happened with these scholars – whether or not they kept their eyes upon Jesus & recognized Him after His ministry began, etc.  Whatever they did, He certainly made an impression upon them.  But the impression was only the beginning.  A relationship with Jesus often starts with astonishment.  We get to the point when we see Jesus as more than just another man or good teacher, and we are left in awe of who He really is.  The key is not let your astonishment of Jesus be all you know of Jesus.  Many people are astonished, and go right back to the things they did before, remaining unchanged.  Many people recognize that Jesus is special and unique, but never do anything in response to His uniqueness.  By all means, be astonished & wonder at Jesus…but go beyond wonder to worship.  Respond to Jesus by worshipping Him as the true God.  Respond to Jesus by surrendering to Him more than your astonishment, but your all.

48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”

  • The religious teachers weren’t the only ones astounded by Jesus – so were His parents.  Mary and Joseph “were amazed” to find their Son interacting with the temple scholars the way He was.  Luke uses different words in vss. 47-48 to describe it all, though the ideas are similar.  If the scholars were confused, Mary & Joseph were overwhelmed.  They were dumbfounded.  No doubt they were supremely relieved to find Jesus, but this wasn’t at all how they expected to find Him.
    • Again, Jesus defies our expectations.  He is greater than we can comprehend.  Let yourself be overwhelmed by Jesus…it’s a good thing! When Peter, James, and John saw Jesus transfigured on the mountain with the glory of God, Peter was so overwhelmed that he started babbling, and God the Father had to quiet him (Mt 17:4-5).  When Thomas realized who Jesus truly was after seeing Him resurrected from the dead, he cried out to Him, “My Lord & My God!” (Jn 20:28).  When John witnessed the glorified Jesus standing in front of him on the Isle of Patmos, all he could do was fall at His feet as though he were dead (Rev 1:17).  This is what it is to be overwhelmed by the awesomeness of Jesus.  He is greater than we can imagine, and we should be bowled over by Him!  Even Paul wrote to the Ephesians, desiring for them to be overwhelmed by the love of God for them in Christ Jesus: Ephesians 3:18–19, "(18) may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—(19) to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."  This is language of amazement – of being overwhelmed by the goodness of God.  This is language appropriate to our Jesus!
    • And yes, we want to go beyond mere intellectual amazement to actual heartfelt wonder & worship – but have you gotten there at all?  Are you amazed by the Savior, or have you grown hard-hearted & cold?  One of the most amazing things about the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt was how quickly they took the miracles of God for granted.  The presence of God literally and visibly stood before them as a pillar of cloud or fire.  God miraculously provided for His people every single day in the form of manna.  And yet they still didn’t trust God’s protection and provision when He led them to the edge of the Promised Land.  Their hearts grew hard and they took God for granted.  Beware that you don’t do something similar!  May our hearts continually be amazed by our awesome Jesus, sincerely worshipping Him as He deserves.  The moment you discover yourself taking Jesus for granted, take yourself to your knees & plead with Jesus to fill you with the Holy Spirit anew!
  • Mary was relieved to find her Son, but that didn’t stop her from a bit of motherly scolding.  She actually blames Jesus for the trouble.  From her perspective, it was His responsibility to ensure that He was with the travelling caravan.  Jesus hadn’t done it, and He caused Joseph and herself to worry “anxiously.”  The word literally speaks of pain, implying mental & emotional anguish, which is perfectly understandable for a concerned mother.
  • Mary does make at least one other mistake in her accusation: she names Joseph as Jesus’ father.  Yes, Joseph was Jesus’ adoptive father, and surely the love between Jesus and Joseph was as strong as any bond between father & son.  Even so, Jesus was already keenly aware of His real Father.  Vs. 49…

49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.

  • The translation of the KJV & NKJV is unfortunate here.  Nowhere in the text is the word “business.”  For that matter, neither is the word “house,” as per the NASB & ESV & others, though that’s a closer implication.  Literally, Jesus’ statement could be translated: “Why therefore did you seek Me?  Did you not know that in the [things] of my Father it is necessary for Me to be?”  Idiomatic usage lends itself to “courts/house,” or less likely, “business/affairs.”  Jesus plainly had not yet begun His ministry (business).  He would even chastise His mother at the wedding in Cana for pushing His ministry timetable too early.  That said, Jesus was attentive to the stuff of His Father.  He was in the house of His true Father, doing exactly what His Father desired for Him to do.  In essence, Jesus’ response to Mary was: “Why did you have such a hard time finding Me?  Why did you search everywhere else?  I was right here, in my Father’s house all along.”
  • Was Jesus being snotty or impertinent?  Not at all.  He was knowledgeable.  Jesus knew exactly who He was & what He should be doing, and He was faithful to do it.  What caused the initial misunderstanding with the caravan, we don’t know, but we do know that Jesus wasn’t at all lost.  He was exactly where He should have been, among the things of His Heavenly Father.
  • Mary & Joseph didn’t understand these things, but Jesus did.  Already at age 12, Jesus had a solid understanding of His identity and mission.  This is part of the mystery of the Incarnation.  Certainly much of this came gradually to the Boy Jesus.  God the Son never stopped being God when He became an incarnate baby, but He did lay some of His glory aside (Phil 2:7).  As a babe, Jesus did not exercise omnipotence, materializing milk out of thin air or miraculously changing His own diapers (though Mary might have appreciated it!). J  Nor did He exercise omniscience, knowing how to speak before His parents taught Him His first words or the alphabet.  Nothing in the Bible indicates that the Boy Jesus demonstrated Himself to be some kind of superman wonder-kid.  Jesus’ divine attributes and knowledge came to Him over time…but it did come.  At some point, Jesus realized who He was, and He conducted Himself accordingly.  If at age 12 a boy was supposed to learn the trade of his father, then where else would the Son of God be found other than the temple?
    • Eventually, Mary would understand these things, and Jesus’ own mother came to faith in Him as Savior & Lord.  Have you?
  • Growing in wisdom #2 (51-52): epilogue

51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart.

  • If to drive home the point that Jesus was not impertinent with His earthly parents, Luke tells us that Jesus went home to Nazareth with them, “and was subject to them.”  He willingly placed Himself under their authority, showing both His humility & His fidelity to the 5th Commandment.  Jesus would honor His parents – both those on earth & His Father in heaven.  Jesus gladly kept the law in every respect, making Himself qualified to fill it to the utmost.  (What does it take for Almighty God to humble Himself to the point of being made subject to mortal created men?  We may never fully understand the extent of Jesus’ humility in His incarnation.)
  • As she did in regards to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth (2:19), Mary “kept all these things in her heart.”  She may not have fully understood them as they unfolded, but in no way did she disregard them.  She didn’t ignore it, pretending it hadn’t happened.  She simply filed it away for later, trusting that God would show her how it all made sense, all in His time.  Mary had faith.
    • Things don’t always make sense at the moment.  Sometimes we have a difficult time understanding what it is God is doing, or how He is going to glorify Himself through it all.  Trust Him!  Hold only to those things, knowing that God will always be good to His character & His promise.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

  • This seems to be the companion verse to 2:40.  Once Jesus started to grow in wisdom, He never stopped.  This is an indication that Jesus’ knowledge of His deity increased over time.  His growth in wisdom & stature didn’t happen just one time…He kept growing continually.  He was constantly learning & maturing.  He grew into a Man both physically and mentally.
  • That wasn’t all.  He continued to grow “in favor with God and men.”  Even as a young man, Jesus always did the things that pleased His Father.  That much isn’t surprising.  What might be surprising is that He also attracted the attention and favor of men.  In our culture today, it often seems that the more ungodly someone is, the more famous they become.  Obviously fame isn’t the issue, and godliness doesn’t often achieve it anyway.  But godliness can (and often does) gain the respect of others.  Even people who are anti-God often respect those who have solid convictions & who follow through with them in sincerity.  Hypocrites will be exposed & cast aside, but a sincere godly believer will have the respect even of his/her enemies.

Conclusion:
Even as a Child, Jesus was amazing.  He certainly showed His potential from a young age.  As a kid, He was already growing in wisdom & grace, being spiritually heads & shoulders above His peers (and likely many adults as well).  As a pre-teen, Jesus astonished the Doctors of Theology in Jerusalem, when He questioned them like no other child had ever done.  This may have given some grey hairs to Mary & Joseph, but it also gave them amazement of their own.  It was a solid reminder that their eldest Son was truly unique.  Jesus is worth our amazement – He’s worth our worship.

Are you amazed & astonished by Jesus?  Good!  Let it blossom into worship.  Be sure to see Him as unique among all the men and religious teachers of history, but don’t allow it to remain merely intellectual.  Be astonished by Him, but don’t look at Jesus as a curiosity – look to Him as God.  Never stop being amazed by Him, but be more than amazed; be a disciple!  Let your astonishment lead to faith, and believe. 

Jesus is definitely the perfect Man, but He is also the perfect God who died for your sins upon the cross & rose from the grave.  He paid your debt against God, so that you could be forgiven & saved.  Maybe you’ve sinned a lot – maybe you’ve sinned (in your estimation) a little.  You’ve still sinned.  Even Mary & Joseph needed a Savior, and so do you.  Believe upon Jesus, asking for His forgiveness & He will save you.  He’ll make you a child of God & give you the promise of heaven – but you’ve got to respond to Him in faith.  Of all of the scholars that interacted with Jesus that day, how many believed?  We’re not told of any.  They were astonished by Him, but did they ever come to faith when they heard of Jesus again 18 years later?  We don’t know – but they certainly had the opportunity.  So do you…don’t waste it.

If you do worship Him, then follow in His footsteps.  Continually grow in wisdom and grace.  Be ever-learning of your God & Savior, honoring Him with your life in both public & private.  Long before His ministry officially began, Jesus made an impact upon those around Him.  He grew in favor with God and with men.  What stops us from being any different?  Nothing.  Grow in your knowledge and relationship with God.  May our faith in Christ be so sincere that it is evident even to our enemies – that all people may know that we are true followers of our Lord Jesus. 

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