Jesus as a Child – Fully Human and Fully God
The Father was pleased because of “Whose” He was.
And the Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
– Luke 2:40
And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.
– Luke 2:47
And immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: “Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well–pleased.”
– Mark 1:10–11
As a boy, Jesus grew in strength and wisdom. Even the Hebrew teachers were amazed at His understanding of the things of God. And when Jesus spoke of God, He called Him Father! The grace of God was upon Jesus, and He had favor with those who knew Him.
– The HOPE, Chapter 8
And when Jesus came up from the water, the Spirit of God descended upon Him. And a voice came from Heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
– The HOPE, Chapter 8
Observe & Consider
Not much is known about Jesus as a boy or as a young man. Thirty years passed from the time of His birth to the beginning of His public ministry, and the Bible says little about those years. As the Son of God, He was unlike other people. As the Son of Mary, He was not unlike every person that ever lived. So what was it like to grow up as God in human form? We are left with many questions.
What was it like to be the Creator of the universe, and yet depend upon the creation the same as every other child nursed as an infant? What were His first words? Was there ever a time when the children were choosing sides to play a game, and He was left out? How did He feel? When He hit those awkward years of pimples and puberty, did He feel awkward? Was there ever a young girl who thought Jesus was cute? How did He handle that? Was there ever a bully who tried to intimidate Him? How did He handle that?
Somehow, it would be easier for us to dismiss those years, to skip over them, but Jesus didn’t skip them. He experienced them, and He experienced them fully. From the verses above, there are some specific things we can know about the Son of God as He grew up and became a man.
We know that even as a boy, Jesus had a thirst for the things of His heavenly Father. The passage above from Luke 2:47 took place in the temple. Joseph and Mary had taken Jesus to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, an event that foreshadowed the sacrifice Jesus would ultimately make to conquer sin and death. Somehow Jesus had become separated from His parents. After three days, His parents finally found Him in the temple dialoging with the religious leaders of the day. The Bible says that people were “amazed at His understanding and His answers.” And when His mother scolded Him for causing His parents to worry, Jesus answered, “Did you not know that I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).
About 18 years passed in obscurity from the incident in the temple to the baptism of Jesus cited in Mark 1:10 above. We’ll spend more time dealing with Jesus’ baptism in the next lesson, but for now pay special attention to the words of His heavenly Father as Jesus came out of the water, “Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well–pleased.”
We must not miss the fact that these words were spoken before Jesus began his three years of public ministry which changed history forever. These words were spoken before He preached a single sermon; before He performed a single miracle; and before He accomplished His most significant work to conquer sin and death and to reconcile man to God. And yet, His heavenly Father could say that in Him He was well pleased!
God the Father was pleased, not so much because of all the things Jesus had done, but because of who He was ...or perhaps more accurately stated, whose He was! For those individuals who feel that God loves and accepts them based upon their performance, this should speak volumes.
Ask & Reflect
- Are you the least bit uncomfortable thinking of Jesus as a young teenager with a cracking voice and a newly–surfaced pimple? Why or why not? Explain your feeling about this.
- Is it a new thought for you that God the Father was pleased with Jesus before Jesus did any of the amazing and significant works that are recorded in the Bible? Do you think God’s pleasure in you is dependent upon your performance? Why or why not?
- Is there a difference between performance and obedience? Explain. Do you see a difference between approval and acceptance? Explain.
Decide & Do
Later in His adult life Jesus told a story about a servant that was faithful to invest and multiply the resources entrusted to him by his master who was leaving on a long journey. Upon his return, the master said to his servant, “Well done good and faithful servant. Because you were faithful in a few things, I will put you in charge of many.”1
In this story, the performance of the servant mattered. It was the basis for the master’s approval upon his return. Like the master in this parable, God’s “well done” for us will be based on what we have done ...or more accurately stated, what we have allowed Him to do through us as we faithfully obey Him.
Even so, as we have seen in today’s lesson, God’s love for us is based not on what we do for Him, but on who we are ...or more accurately, whose we are. If you belong to Him, then rest in the truth that God loves you and is pleased with you because you are His. If you’re not certain whether you belong to Him, then go immediately to the Knowing God section of this study and resolve the issue ...forever!
While God's approval is based on what we do, His acceptance is based on what Jesus has done for us on the cross.
For Further Study
- David Humpal, Jesus as a Young Boy, Luke 2:21–52. (Verse by Verse Studies in the Gospel, 1998). (http://www.hurtingchristian.org/PastorsSite/gospels/luke2-21-52.htm). Retrieved October 27, 2006.
The following resources address the issue of God’s approval and performance–based acceptance:
- Dr. Bill and Anabel Gillham, The Life Video Series. How to Let Christ Live His Life in and Through You. (© Mars Hill Productions and Lifetime Guarantee Ministries, 1996). (http://mars-hill.org/product/life). Retrieved October 27, 2006.
- Dr. Jerry Bridges, Gospel–Driven Sanctification. (© 2003, Modern Reformation Magazine, May / June 2003 Issue, Vol. 12.3). (http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var1=ArtRead&var2=270&var3=searchresults&var4=Search&var5=Gospel%E2%80%93Driven_Sanctification). Retrieved October 27, 2006.