Luke 2:40-52 (AD 7-8)
Those of you with the attention span of an accountant and the breadth of perspective of a hungry eagle will no doubt have noticed that we skipped about ten years. Actually, God did, when he inspired the writing of the Bible. Why? Because he didn’t need us to know anything about the life of Jesus from about two or three years old to thirteen.
Except for this one phrase that covers the entire decade of ages 2-12:
“[Jesus] grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him” (v.40).
Then, after the incident at the temple when Mary and Joseph lost track of their son thinking him with one of their relatives travelling nearby, we read this about Jesus’ teenage years:
“[Jesus]…was obedient to [Mary and Joseph, and he]…grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (v.52).
I have a pair of properly great teenagers; I’m very grateful for both of them and they put me to shame in an increasing number of ways. But it’s also true that being a teenager is HARD. Growing into emotional stability at that age can feel like trying to drink a coffee on a rollercoaster: you’re not quite sure why all that lurching has to happen, there are brief moments of satisfaction, steadiness and clarity and then suddenly you get burnt. It’s Jesus at that age (and beyond), that the writer is talking about.
And Jesus wasn’t good because he was a compliant droid; he was a child, a boy, a teenager, subject to all the same challenges and temptations as the rest of us. The difference was that he actively desired to obey and glorify his Father in heaven, and to know him better and better within the self-imposed limits of his humanity. He is our inspiration not because he accomplished the impossible but because he always desired what is good.
In closing, there’s another pair of verses to note:
“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (v.19, after the shepherds visited)
“But his mother treasured all these things in her heart” (v.51, after the incident in Jerusalem when Jesus stayed behind)
Mary hadn’t full grasped who her son was. She didn’t understand her son Jesus when he said he “had to be in my Father’s house” (v.50). But she kept her counsel, thought about it, and tried to understand.
‘Ponder’ and ‘treasure’ like Mary, but be active in your growth like Jesus.