The baby did not stay in the manger. The child became a man. We don’t know much about the boyhood years or Jesus’ years of early adulthood. Aside from the escape to Egypt and the day his parents lost him at the Temple, there is almost total silence in the gospels.
However Luke gives us a couple of general summaries.
He describes the years of childhood by writing that “the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favour of God was upon him.” Following the Temple episode (Jesus at 12) he writes that Jesus was submissive to his parents. Then this, to cover the years from 12 to 30:
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and man.
- Favour with God
- Favour with man
Although he was and never ceased to be God, and although at 12 the Temple theologians were astounded at his understanding, Jesus grew in wisdom. And he grew in stature. This was a normal child with things to experience and wisdom to gain. He grew taller and stronger as he got older.
He also grew in favour with God. As the Word, the eternal Son exists in an eternal relationship of love with the Father; as a growing child, the way he lived in such a way that he grew in favour with God. Eventually the Father would pronounce that this was his Son and he was well pleased in him.
And he grew in favour with men.
These things should cause us to pause at the mystery of the incarnation. Through Jesus, God entered into the experience of being human, and did so without shortcuts.
At the same time, how about a practical application to carry us to the start of a new year. As Jesus grew intellectually, physically, spiritually and socially, so do we.
Why not consider what goals could you set for yourself so that you develop in each of these four areas for 2012?
- Intellectual – are there books to read, a Bible reading programme to follow, an evening class to enroll in?
- Physical – some of us of a certain age may need to consider a plan for negative growth (!), but what can you do to get/stay fit and healthy?
- Spiritual – you don’t need to struggle for God’s acceptance, but you can live in a way that brings him joy and you can serve in a way that meets his approval. What can you do to grow in favour with God?
- Social – are there friendships to be cultivated, new ways of encouragement to be developed, new ministries to be started?