This message looks at the part of Jesus’ life that is hard to look at because there is nothing to look at. There is nothing said between the time his parents take him to Egypt [and later to Nazareth] at the age of 2 or 3, until he is 12 years old, and then only one incident is recorded. From 12 until his 30 there is nothing said except this, LUKE 2:52 “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men”.
What were his young years like? Did he start talking and the first thing he said was, “I am the incarnational fulfillment of the Logos of God, the atonement and propitiation for fallen man, the justification and sanctification for and from original sin, the eschatological summation of history and time. Pass the un-leaven bread please.” Did he know all about who he was at 3 years old? Was he the brain of God in the body of a child? Or did he have a normal childhood? Did he have to learn things like every other child? Did he have issues to contend with? The verse suggests he was like other humans, he had to grow up in wisdom like everyone else.
But there was a difference. He was sinless. The selfishness and childishness that affects all of us, even as adults, never affected him. He was childlike without being childish. There was something different about him that people noticed. I believe that at an early age he began to find himself curious about God. He probably found himself thinking about God allot. I don’t think he realized at first, as a small child, that he was divine but I believe he knew he was different and that it had something to do with God. I believe that every week his interest and thoughts turned more and more to who He was in relation to God. I believe that as he asked his mother questions about God, more and more truth began to dawn on him. She would have undoubtedly told him about the prophecies about him and his cousin John. He would begin to see his destiny as unique and bound up with God. He would find himself praying allot, asking questions and seeking intimacy with God. Most of this is not unlike what happens to most people when they become Christians, a growing awareness and relationship with God.
Although He was different He was also completely human. He went through the same stages of development that all people must go through to grow up. I want to look at one of these stages of human development because it is important. So important that it is the only stage recorded in the Bible and it is a stage that is important to us today in our particular culture. Psychologists, both secular and Christian, tell us of human development in these terms. The child takes life in the mother. The child is formed in the mother. Life comes from the mother. After birth life continues to come from the mother. Even after weaning the child is still tied to the mother in great intimacy. There is a bond between the child and the mother which is much greater than that with the father. This continues until the child reaches puberty and adolescence. At this stage the child begins to establish its own unique identity and sexuality. The boy becomes a man and the girl a woman. They are no longer just son or daughter, but man and woman. This stage of moving away from the mother must happen for each of us to become a whole independent person. It is a process of individuation.
The difficulty at this point is that the child cannot separate itself from mother because its identity is still tied to mother. Mother cannot do this separation well because her identity is tied to the child as “mother”. The voice that calls the child away from the mother and blesses the child in his or her own identity and sexuality is the father’s voice. It is in response to the father’ voice that the child moves away from mother and becomes an adult. When this does not happen we see “adults” who are stuck at the early stages of adolescence, insecure, self-focused, narcissistic, not knowing who they are, un-affirmed as adult men and woman.
How important this stage is, is reflected in the fact that this is the only stage of development recorded in the formative years of Jesus’ individuation. The story is found in LUKE 2:41. Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” “Why were you searching for me?” He asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
Here we see Jesus at the age of 12; in his adolescence and puberty. This is the age when a Jewish boy is inducted into manhood. And we see Jesus making a move away from his mother and father but mostly from his mother. It is she who chews him out about staying behind. And the answer he gives her is very important; “Didn’t you know I had to be in my father’s house?” Jesus is responding to the call of his father’s voice and moving away from his mother. He is being called into manhood and son-ship by his HeavenlyFather. His identity as the son of God is being shaped. He is becoming a man standing alone before God, not the son of Mary BUT THE SON OF GOD! This has to happen for him and this has to happen for each of us.
It is interesting and makes perfect sense that the next thing we see in Jesus life is 18 years later when he is being baptized by John the Baptist. This is Jesus formal entry into his work of saving the world. His cousin John has been prophesying and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. We will examine the importance of this teaching in a later message. The important thing to note now is that Jesus shows up to be baptized. Not because he needed to repent but as an act of identification with the people he came to save and as an act of humility before his father.
After He was baptized by John a miracle happens. Matthew 3:16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” I have said this many times but I will say it again. This approval from the father was given to Jesus before he did anything for his father. It was not earned, it was his father’s gift. The father affirmed Jesus as his son before Jesus did anything for him.
It is important to note that Matthew and Mark record this incident slightly differently. Matthew has God speaking to the people, “This is my son…”, while Mark has the father speaking directly to Jesus, “You are my son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” I think both occurred. I think the people heard it and Jesus heard it for himself. Both need to hear it personally.
For Jesus this is the final stage in equipping for His work. He must have His father’s love to do His father’s work of love. He must know the empowering of being loved by the Father without condition before he can go out and love others without condition. He must know his identity in His father God as a well loved child before he knows the work of being His Father’s servant. And this the Father gives wholeheartedly.
As he grew up he had to know he was his own person apart from the expectations of his mother and father. The Father accomplished this by calling him at 12 years old to Himself. He was affirmed as a man, the bonds of childhood were broken. He could now turn himself to receive the affirmation of his heavenly father. At 30 years of age he receives the blessing of his father into his life’s work. His work cannot go on without this affirmation.
Have you been blessed by the father’s voice into adulthood. Are you still trying to receive the approval of your mother or father [which they have not given]? Have you heard the Father say “You are my child, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”