Luke 2:41-52 41 Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. 43 After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
A lot of young people I know are looking for ways to get out of class, looking for ways to cut the lesson short, but we see a picture of Jesus, at the age of 12, wanting to learn. He wanted to hear what the religious leaders were teaching and he asked them questions.
47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.
I guess Jesus not only had questions, but He also had answers. He had done His homework. He had studied to the point where the religious teachers were amazed at what He knew. Apparently, Jesus did more than listen. He shared His wisdom with the teachers in the temple courts and what He had to say amazed them all. A good teacher will appreciate the student who can also teach him or her a thing or two.
48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” 49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
So they talked over the whole little mishap of having left Jesus behind. They didn’t just leave Him behind, but they walked on towards home for an entire day before they realized He was missing. I think that classifies as a parent fail for sure. That reminds me of a time I thought Thom had taken Hannah home with him from church and he thought I had taken her home with me. The nursery worker at church who faithfully stayed to be with our precocious toddler, assuming we were just delayed by someone who needed to talk, finally called one of us and when she realized what we had done she quickly told Hannah that we were playing a game of hide and seek or something so that she wouldn’t be scarred for life about being left by her parents at church.
51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.
Jesus had a respect for authority. He obeyed His parents. He received instruction in the home which is the best place to learn about authority and respect.
But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.
Parents, we know about those moments, don’t we? Those moments when our kids give us something to treasure in our hearts? I remember we were at the park with Hannah and her little cousin, Blake, my brother’s son. Hannah and Blake were maybe three. They were scampering ahead of us a bit quickly and Thom called her name to get her to stop and wait for us. We heard her say to her three-year-old cousin, “I must go back. My daddy is calling me.” My sister-in-law looked at us and said, “How did you do that?” We just beamed with pride.
One of our son’s endearing qualities is his generosity. He was maybe 11 or 12 when he wanted to take all of the money he had and buy Justin Bieber tickets for his sister for a Christmas present. It was so sweet. Yes, we parents know about the times when someone is amazed by something our kids say or do and they tell us about it. They tell us how polite our child was or how they were a good friend to someone else or they tell us about the potential they can see in our kids. We soak those moments up, right? Mary had a lot to treasure in her heart. Her kid was the kid who wanted to stay and learn from the rabbis. Her kid could carry on a meaningful theological discussion at 12. Her kid was amazing people left and right. Her kid was obedient. I mean, what more could a parent ask for, right? We have a lot to learn from the way Jesus learned.
Here is the verse I want to unpack for just a few minutes with you as the new school year is beginning:
52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Growing in Wisdom
Students, everything your textbooks say is not true. Everything your friends believe may not be true. Everything you google is definitely not true. We have to be wise and discerning as we are learning about life. The earth isn’t billions of years old. Most of you have already been taught that it is. It isn’t true. How do I know that and why does it matter? Using the genealogies in the Bible, you can count the years the world has been in existence. There are approximately 2000 years from the time of Adam to the time of Abraham and approximately 2000 years from the time of Abraham to the time of Jesus and approximately 2000 years from the time of Jesus until now, making the earth about 6000 years old. The fossil layers that many scientists say point to millions or billions of years are easily explained by a catastrophic, global flood which ripped up many of the previous rock layers and redeposited them elsewhere, destroying the previous fragile contents. That happened during the flood when Noah’s family was kept safe on the ark he built according to God’s instruction. Why does it matter that we don’t in an earth that is billions of years old? If you dismiss the Bible as historical, you dismiss it as reliable. You reduce it to fable. You strip it of truth. What you believe about biblical accuracy matters.
The earth also didn’t evolve or ooze out of some cosmic accident, and we didn’t evolve as a result. God created everything in six days. Six, literal days. Not six ages or spans of time. Genesis one tells us that when God was in creation mode, there was morning and there was evening, the first day, there was morning and evening on the second day, there was morning and evening on the third day and so on and so forth. Why the detail? A morning and an evening make a literal day. God wanted us to know He created everything in six literal days. He was establishing a rhythm for every living thing. He was establishing the beginning of all things, and a timeline for all that would follow.
You didn’t come from apes. People didn’t evolve from animals. Humans, were created by God. You know why secular humanism wants us to believe we came from apes? Because if we believe we came from apes, then we will think we aren’t accountable to any Creator. We will think we have to answer to no one. If no one made you, then you are your own master of your own destiny. You can do what you want. Once people understand the truth, that they are created by God, they have to consider that He made them on purpose for a purpose. Secular humanists don’t want to proliferate the idea that God has a say about our lives.
We have to seek wisdom. In an online article in 2014, ABC news listed 58 genders that could be used for a person’s FB profile. Another source claims there are 63 genders, and yet another boasts 76 genders. I don’t know if school curriculum is addressing this topic, but it sure is proliferating cultural discussion and the thought-life of our youth today. I am not just sharing the truth as I see it. I am telling you the absolute truth. There are only two genders. Genesis 1:27-So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And the idea that someone could choose their gender is preposterous. I won’t deny that there are rare cases at birth where genetic issues present great challenges for people, but that is a different conversation. I know there is great confusion among many young people today regarding this issue. I am sympathetic. I am willing to lovingly listen. You matter to me. I care about your struggle, no matter what the nature of your struggle is. However, at the end of the day, I stand on the authority of Scripture for every aspect of my life and am called to proclaim the truth. When we are confused about any issue we are dealing with, we have to seek the Lord because God is not the author of confusion (I Cor. 14:33). Satan is behind the confusion we face because He wants us to doubt God. What God says and what He means is clear, and the fact that there are two genders that are easily differentiated and is clearly seen.
This is a message for all of us, not just the students. Grow in wisdom. Seek not just to learn, but seek to learn the truth.
Some will tell you that truth is relative, that it depends on your situation. That truth can be different for different people. You must not believe that. Truth is fixed. It doesn’t change. What was true, is true and will be true. 2 + 2 will always be 4. Now that new-fangled math math may give you some different ideas about how to compute it, but 2 + 2 will always be 4.
Here are some facts about truth:
Truth is discovered not invented (God has established what is true. We learn the truth as we learn of Him.)
Truth is transcultural: it can be conveyed across different cultures. Something isn’t only true in America. If it is true, it is true in Mexico, or France or Malaysia.
Truth is unchanging: it can be conveyed across time. What was true thousands of years ago is still true today. Truth isn’t impacted by cultural conversations, by the discovery of information or the innovation of new ideas.
Beliefs cannot change a truth statement no matter how sincere one may be (So you believing something doesn’t make it true. You can believe a lie. You have that capacity.)
Truth is unaffected by the attitude of the one professing it. (I may not like the truth, but that doesn’t change that it is true.)
All Truths are absolute
Truth is knowable
In order for truth to be absolute and holding these qualities, it must be grounded in a source that is personal, unchanging, and sovereign over all creation.(https://evidenceandanswers.org/article/truth-absolute-or-relative/)
Therefore, truth is known only in and through a right relationship with God.
Jesus grew in wisdom because He was in a growing relationship with God. That is where real wisdom is attained. Wisdom isn’t gained through a textbook. Knowledge and information may come that way, but wisdom comes from God (Proverbs 2:6).
Grow in Stature When we give our lives to Christ, our bodies become a temple for the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit lives in us. We need to honor God by taking care of our bodies to the best of our ability. That gym class that you are required to take is a good thing. Gaining physical strength is a way to help us prevent and minimize injury. Exercise is a stress reliever. Avoiding putting things into our bodies that will harm our bodies is key to long life and living well. A strong body will enable us to serve others as we serve the Lord. Stature doesn’t just refer to a person’s height. It refers to their growth and development overall. Jesus didn’t just grow taller. He grew well. He grew strong. It needs to be a goal that every Christ-follower has.
Then lastly, our text tells us that Jesus grew in favor with God and men. Let’s talk first about Favor with Men.
God made us to be social. We exist in relationship with other people. At Creation, God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone. That is why God created Eve for Adam. Getting along with others, being kind to one another, building relationships that enable us to care for each other is very important. Favor with people comes when we love all people and treat all people the way Jesus would. If we say one thing to someone’s face and another thing when they walk away, we are destroying potential favor with people. If we dismiss someone as unworthy of our time or concern, if we bully or label people to marginalize them, if we think less of someone because of the color of their skin, we have sabotaged our favor with people. If we fly off the handle and yell and scream at people, we have destroyed our favor with people. If we spread gossip about people and talk badly about them because of what they wear or who they hang out with, we have damaged the amount of favor we can have with people. If we post things to cast people in a poor or disparaging light, we have shut down favor with those people.
Having a good reputation, being known as one of the good guys or good girls is important. It speaks of your character and your desire to be like Jesus. Jesus didn’t just associate with all people to demonstrate His love, but He also did so in order to influence them to set an example for them so that they could choose better, live better, and see the way to a relationship with God. If you blow your favor with people, you blow the opportunity to show them who God is. As a representative of Christ, it is important that you care how other people view you.
Lastly, Jesus grew in Favor with God.
Favor with God comes from seeking Him and from obeying Him. It is a by-product of being a true disciple of Jesus. It’s the good stuff that just happens because God allows it or does it for you because you are in a relationship with Him. Esther went from being an orphaned Jewish refugee to the Queen of Persia just because God did it.
Favor will protect you from being destroyed by Satan. He will try to cause things to happen to discourage and disappoint and defeat you, but God will turn them around and cause them to be something for your good. That is Divine favor. Joseph went from being sold as a slave by his brothers, to serving in Potiphar’s house, to put in prison for something he didn’t do to being elevated as the Prime Minister of Egypt. That is Divine favor.
Divine favor can’t be stopped or shut out of your life. Your trials will just take you to new heights! The Favor of God will give you victory over your enemies and will position you in places where you can receive what you need like He did for Ruth when she and her mother-in-law needed provision. Ruth was from another country. She didn’t even have a network of people to turn to in times of trouble, but God gave her favor with a wealthy businessman whose named was Boaz. He saw that she had what she needed, but he also married her and from their lineage King David and Jesus descended. That happened to Ruth just because of the Favor of God. God’s favor gives you a platform and a place of influence. Seek His favor by walking in the ways He has ordained for you.
Let’s learn from the ways Jesus learned. Let’s grow in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and men.