(I already published this post 12 months ago; it bears repeating as we prepare for another new year)
Little is told us in the gospels about the boyhood and young adulthood of Jesus. Aside from the escape to Egypt and the Temple incident (at age 12), there is almost total silence on the part of the four evangelists. Only Luke helps us with his comment on Jesus’ submission to his parents (Luke 2:51) and his summary of how Jesus grew ‘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.
Part of the mystery of the incarnation is that when God took on humanity, he did so without shortcuts. So much so that the anonymous writer of the Hebrew letter said that ‘although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.’
There is a uniqueness and a deep theological mystery in all of this.
At the same time, I think Luke’s description of how Jesus grew and matured can help us with a template for planning our own growth and development as we stand at the threshold of another new year. As Jesus grew intellectually, physically, spiritually and socially, what about us?
Why not consider what goals you might set to encourage your development in each of these four areas for 2013?
- Intellectual – are there books to read (e.g. are there twelve significant books you should read over the next twelve months?), is there a Bible reading programme to follow, a Bible book or doctrine to grapple with, a new language to learn, an evening class to enroll in?
- Physical – growth may be the wrong word for some of us who are of a certain age: negative growth might be a better plan, but what should we do to get/stay fit and healthy?
- Spiritual – what do you need to do to grow in favour with God? It’s not that we need to struggle for his acceptance, but it is possible to live in a way that brings him joy and to serve in a way that wins his approval. Are there healthy, godly disciplines to cultivate?
- Social – are there friendships to be cultivated, new ways of encouragement to be developed, perhaps even new ministries to be started?
Why not get a journal (one of my daughters bought me a new one for Christmas) and use the first few pages to work through these areas?