And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. – Luke 2:52
Greetings, friends! I am here to day to share some of my observations regarding the humanity of our Lord and Savior and how that might relate to us today. One of the greatest mysteries about our faith is how Jesus Christ, God the Son, humbled Himself and came down to us incarnate as a man. In that time, He was both 100% deity and 100% human. We can often forget the 100% human part. This means that He had to go through all the things we do. He had to discover the world for Himself just as all babies do. He had to receive instruction from His earthly parents, just as we all did. He went through the natural maturing process.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had to learn. Though He was God, there is absolutely no indication in Scripture that He had all knowledge and wisdom from birth. In fact, we can see from the verse highlighted above and others nearby (ie Luke 2:40) that He had to undergo a growth process in many areas. The four areas of growth underwent by our Lord about which Luke writes here are growth in stature, growth in wisdom, growth in favor with God and growth in favor with men. Since we are to strive to be like Jesus and conform to His image and His ways (1 John 2:6, 1 Corinthians 11:1, 1 Peter 2:21, Ephesians 5:1, Romans 8:29, etc.), it is a good practice to look at Scripture to find out what Jesus was like and what He did. In this case, what He did was grow, and grow we should as well, in the same four ways.
In most instances of growth, there are aspects in which we cannot control and must simply let growth occur on its own time. Nowhere is this better seen than in physical growth. The Bible says that Jesus grew in stature. The Greek word translated “stature” can mean maturity or age as well, but is also connected with actual physical stature. It is the same word used to describe Zaccheus’s height in Luke 19. It is also the same word used in John 9:21-23 regarding someone being of age to speak for himself. So it can be seen that this word regards both maturity in terms of age and responsibility as well as the physical growth one naturally undergoes.
Growth in stature, then, has a very natural aspect to it. We cannot control our rate of aging. We could not control, as children, how quickly we grew taller or reached puberty. This is all done at the pleasure of our Lord, who ordained one to be a tall man and another a short man. He ordained one man’s voice to crack at 13 while another’s waited until 17. Everything God does in us is part of His great purpose, though we are far too small to see the big picture. Everything is done on His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). So it is with our aging. Jesus grew in stature as part of this natural process. The Bible does not indicate that He rushed things. In fact, there is a pretty sizeable gap between Jesus at twelve years old, as He was during the time described in Luke chapter 2, and the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar (around 26 AD) described in Luke 3:1. The difference is somewhere between 10 and 20 years, probably in the 16-18 range. This is the time of Jesus’s growth. He did not rush it. He allowed Himself to grow on God’s time, as we all should.
Growth in stature does have an aspect where we, as those growing, can have influence, however. How do we do this? One way is being obedient to God’s word regarding ourselves. Psalm 136:25 indicates that the food we eat is a gift from God, and go no further than the parable of the talents if you want to find out how God expects His people to handle His gifts. We are called to be good stewards of God’s gifts and use them for the best use possible and for the good of His kingdom. We are called not to misuse His gifts. I will be the first to admit that I have misused food over the years and it has taken a toll on my body. I have repented of this sin and am, by God’s mercy, grace and power, changing my wicked habits and my outlook on this gift. Read through the book of Proverbs as well to find out how often the word of God lumps gluttony in with drunkenness. At the end of the day, remember that we live by God’s word before food. On a short side note, I would also encourage the occasional fast, which can help in numerous ways.
Growth by eating right is not the only thing one can control. In 1 Corinthians 9:27, Paul talks about the importance of keeping his physical body under discipline. It is clear that we are to take care of the temple of the Holy Spirit (our bodies). It is also clear that we can control this. Like gluttony, laziness is condemned in the book of Proverbs and beyond. So we can control how we eat and what we do with our bodies, and thereby we have some control over our growth. We, like Jesus, should endeavor to grow in stature rather than letting the bad habits prevalent in today’s society stunt that growth.
Second, Jesus grew in wisdom. It cannot be overstated how important the concept of wisdom is in the Bible. Read Proverbs 3:13-18.
How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain is better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.
This was not a subtle point Solomon was trying to make here. Solomon prayed for wisdom (an understanding, or hearing, heart) and was directly granted his wish by God. For this to be his one wish, as king of all of God’s people, and God to be pleased by that wish shows how important wisdom is to God as well as to life in general.
We too have the promise of wisdom if we will only ask God in prayer, according to James 1:5. This is a very powerful Biblical promise; I would encourage you to make asking God for wisdom a part of your daily prayers. James 3:17 calls wisdom from above “pure… peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.” Who would not desire such a gift? How do we grow in wisdom? We ask God.
Wisdom is also a practiced and learned attribute. Proverbs 19:20 says that you gain wisdom by listening to counsel and accepting discipline. Proverbs 14:16 advises that wise people are cautious and turn from evil, which are habits that those who wish to grow in wisdom should cultivate. The bottom line can be found near the beginning of the book of Proverbs, in chapter 1 and verse 7: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” It all comes back to God. The fear of God is something that is rarer and rarer these days, yet it is the very beginning of knowledge. Read the word of God in the book of Job:
And to man He said, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” – Job 28:28
Proverbs 8:35 says that those who find wisdom find life as well, and obtain favor from the Lord. This is a perfect segue into the third way Jesus grew: in favor with God. None of these aspects is an island; Jesus grew in all four together. So you see how they might be linked to one another: find wisdom and grow in God’s favor.
The Bible has a lot to say about the favor of God. It seems to be something God rains down upon those who obey Him as Lord. Consider Psalm 5:12, which indicates that the Lord covers the righteous with His favor as though it was a shield. But it is not only the very pious gaining favor, though obedience is something to which all Christians are called. Proverbs 18:22 says that those who get married obtain favor with the Lord! It says getting married is good! I wholeheartedly agree.
Ideally, a Christian should only marry once, though, and Jesus was not married, so He must have grown in other ways. Most often, in the Bible, this is through obedience. Consider Deuteronomy 28:1.
Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.
If you love God, you will do His will and keep His commandments (see John 14:15). God, in turn, will grand you divine favor, something which all of us need and in which all of us should strive to grow.
As another segue, I would like you to see how the Bible links favor with God and favor with men, the fourth way Jesus grew. It is interesting how keeping the commandments of God and heeding His teaching will help a Christian grow in both areas:
My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, so you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man. – Proverbs 3:1-4
It is important to note that the qualities which gain you favor with men and help you grow in that favor are qualities that are bestowed upon you by God. Esther 2:15 shows how someone can win the favor of men by listening to sound advice. Proverbs 11:27 says that seeking good amounts to seeking favor. There seems to be a theme here among a lot of these growth categories. Doing the right thing, seeking God, listening to sound advice and not despising correction can go a long way in growing in wisdom, favor with God and favor with man.
Moses wrote thousands of years ago how a hard man named Potiphar, a high-ranking officer in ancient Egypt, had favor on one of God’s men.
Now his master saw that the Lord was with him and how the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer of his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge. – Genesis 39:3-4
If the Lord is with you and you allow Him to work through you, though you probably won’t be liked by the world for it, you will find favor with the people who matter. You grow in favor with men by being closer to the Lord.
God wishes us all to be like Christ. One of the things that entails is growth in the ways we discussed. Peter ended his second letter with a command to grow in the grace and knowledge of God. This is what we are instructed to do. To stop the growth process and fall into complacency is to disobey God, who suffered and died so that we may live! Don’t grow in a race with others, but in harmony with the things God is doing every day to perfect you as a born-again follower of Christ.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:6
Thank you for reading, and God Bless!
- Brother Brian