A few days ago we celebrated the birth of Jesus. Now what? Do we leave Him in the manger? Do we put Him away with other Christmas decorations until next December?
As we are about to begin a new calendar year, I challenge you to let Jesus to grow up. As you allow Him to grow, you will also grow in your relationship with Him.
All of us are familiar with the Christmas story as recorded in Luke 2. However, we have the tendency to stop after verse 20. If we keep reading, we will discover a few things about Jesus’ childhood. Luke 2:40 says, “And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.” When he was 12 years old, he went to the Passover Feast in Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph lost track of him. Verses 46-47 tell us, “Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.” Jesus matured greatly in 12 years!
Luke 2:52 summarizes Jesus’ early life. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. Let’s look closely at the four ways in which Jesus grew.
The Greek word for wisdom refers to mental and moral insights and understanding. We just noted in Luke 2:46-47 how impressed the teachers in the temple were with Jesus’ wisdom. Jesus had more than heard knowledge. He had wisdom and understanding. He had a greater maturity in wisdom than most boys his age.
What about wisdom for ourselves? Proverbs 1:5-6 says, “Let the wise listen and gain instruction, and the discerning acquire wise counsel by understanding the proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.” James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” We desire more than worldly wisdom. We want the spiritual wisdom Paul talks about in I Corinthians 2: 9-10. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed it to us by the Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” Verses 12-13 continue, “We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. And this is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.”
Stature in Greek is a word that considers a combination of age and size to reflect physical growth. Jesus grew physically like any human being. Each year Jesus celebrated his birthday of being another year older.
For us, stature growth is noticed by changes in height and weight as our chronological age increases. Kids get excited about growing up in height. As adults, we may become more concerned about growing out in weight.
FAVOR WITH GOD
The Greek word for favor is the same word that is translated grace. It is a term of acceptance. Jesus was loved by His Heavenly Father. My favorite definition of grace is given by Don Mares. “Grace is the empowering presence of God enabling you to be who God has created you to be and to do what God has called you to do.” Jesus perfectly exemplified grace.
God offers us grace today. Ephesians 2:8-10 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” God assures us in II Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Jesus grew in favor with God – and we are encouraged to do the same. II Peter 3:18 says, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
FAVOR WITH MAN
Again, the definition of favor is grace. As a normal boy, Jesus had the same experiences as everyone growing up in a family. He had earthly parents and siblings. Everyone needs grace while living with family members. Hebrews 2:17 NLT says, “For this reason He had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people.”
In Matthew 22, Jesus is asked which is the great commandment. He answers in verses 37-39, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all you mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Jesus is a man when He gives this answer. It is the perfect example for how we are to live in favor with both God and man. Another guide for how we can grow in favor with man is found in Proverbs 3:3-4. “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.”
Jesus didn’t stay in a manger as a baby. He grew up. Philippians 2: 6-8 gives a good description of Jesus’ life. “Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.” However, let us not forget the words of Philippians 2:1 for ourselves. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” This is how we grow.