|Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers.|
mark this: Luke 2:52
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
How do we grow up to be like Jesus? The opening chapters of Luke show us Jesus' formative years, and serve as our example for spiritual development. Today, in part 1, and the day after tomorrow, in part 2, we will take a closer look at how God takes a child from "here" to "there."
I am a big student of process in scripture. I am avidly interested in how we make progress in this new life Jesus purchased for us--because I don't want to stay a spiritually immature brat all my life.
How do we proceed? How do we progress? How do we get from here to there in the spiritual realm?
The key to these questions lies just ahead of us, in the chapters we are about to read. These are crucial chapters because they present our model for growth.
Here's what we must remember:
1. You might be 57, like me; or you might be 17, like my son Frankie turns today as I write this; or you might be 97, like my mother. But according to the Bible, as a believer, you are a child:
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)
So, stop acting so mature all the time. You are not! And this mature act you're foisting upon yourself is getting in the way of your progress. It's stifling God's re-creative flow! We can't grow until we admit we've got a lot of growing up to do. Some of us have got to "grow down" before we can grow up!
2. Jesus was once a kid like you, in the process of growing up:
The eternal Son of God, Jesus, actually became a baby. God became an embryo. Deity in diapers! Once Jesus arrived on earth, He went through a learning process, just like anyone else. Luke tells us that, "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature." (Luke 2:52) Some hear this and say, "Hold on! If you are God, then you're omniscient, which means you know all things. So how can you learn anything?" That's a valid question. And here's the biblical answer: Jesus continued to possess his divine attributes without choosing to use them. In the words of Scripture, he "emptied" Himself and "humbled" Himself. But self-emptying is not self-extinction. In coming to earth He did not lay aside His deity--that was impossible--but rather the privileges of deity. He emptied Himself, not of His essential being or character, but of His right to draw upon the staggering privileges of His deity.3. God devotes the beginning of Luke to the essentials of our growth, modeled in the life of Jesus, our pattern in this and all else. (When Jesus says, "Follow me," he means in every way!) God goes to great lengths in this section of scripture to make it clear that Jesus grew into himself--just as we are to do.
--from "START: The Bible for New Believers." Greg Laurie, General Editor. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2010.
4. God very carefully illustrated the way and the means of our growth:
a. Scripture (Luke 2:41-52)
b. the Holy Spirit (Luke 3 and 4)
("Scripture and the Spirit"--We hope you'll hold that thought until the day after tomorrow, when we will conclude this article...)