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Growing in Your Knowledge of Jesus

Text: Luke 2:39-52

Introduction: Have you ever experienced intense intellectual confusion?

  • Often, your old ideas about Jesus have to be transformed if your understanding of Him is to develop & flourish. Steep Learning Curve
  • Luke’s gospel begins & ends with people whose ideas about Jesus are transformed.
    • Luke makes clear that this is a recurring struggle in the lives of people who desire to know Jesus.
  • In the first two chapters, everyone seems surprised by what God is doing.

To grow in our knowledge of God we must rely both on what God reveals in Scripture and on the Holy Spirit who enlivens God’s revelation to us and who forms a mature faith in us.

  • As Luke’s closes his introduction, Jesus’ wisdom & knowledge of God as his Father is growing. (2:40 & 52).
  • Luke is teaching disciples to treasure new insights about Jesus that they may grow in wisdom & in favor with God & man.

Explore the Text

An assumption based on Luke 1:1-4: Luke interviewed Mary.

  • Much of Luke’s knowledge in these first two chapters, may have come through conversations with Mary.
  • As an eyewitness she would remember the excitement of these early moments as God worked in a new way to fulfill his promises to Israel.
  • She would have told these stories to Jesus as he was growing up so that he would understand his identity as it was revealed to Mary by an angel.
    • The story of Zechariah, Elizabeth, and John.
    • The story of Mary, the angel and the Holy Spirit in Jesus birth.
    • All the things that happened and what was said in prophecy.
    • 2:1-21: The story of the angels and the shepherds and Mary’s treasuring and pondering all of these things
    • 2:22-38: The story of the his dedication in the temple. (Simeon & mention of the HS 3x)
    • 2:39-40: A summary of the impact of these stories on Jesus’ development.
  • She would have new insights as she reflects on these things in light of the life, death and resurrection of her son.

I. The Frame of the Story (and of the Gospel, see Lk. 24)

Jesus Grows in Wisdom & Returns to the Temple 2:39-43

  • This was not Jesus’ first trip to the temple.
    • Yearly, Jesus’s parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast
      • A family immersed in the religious life of Israel. Religious commitments & habits formed the rhythm of their life.
      • The religious structure of Jesus’ childhood was important in forming him, but the Father and the Holy Spirit are also at work in the development of his wisdom &understanding.
    • Jesus is about to become a man (age 13 in that culture)
      • He travels with his parents, extended family & friends.
      • The 12th year would have been a very important year of transition and preparation for Joseph and Jesus as father and son.
      • There is a maturing of his consciousness as God’s Son.

II. The Point of the Story (at the heart of the story)

Parents Looking & Searching to Find Him (2: 44, 45, 46, 48, 49)

  • When the entourage from Nazareth leaves Jerusalem, Jesus stays behind.
  • His parents do not notice at first.
    • They assumed that he is safe with someone else.
      • Going in two cars to a church function at a friend’s home.
      • Both of us getting home and realizing that neither one of us had Joel! Yikes! The mad dash back and the embarrassment.
    • Three anxious days looking and searching for Jesus.
      • They assume that he is in danger in the crowds of Jerusalem.
        • Another story of 2 people without Jesus for 3 days (Lk. 24)
      • Luke invites his reader to be looking and searching for Jesus!
        • We assume that we know him and that he is with us.
        • Sometimes we need to be startled and realize that we have not stayed close to Jesus.

Finding The Father’s Wise Son at the Temple with the Experts

  • Jesus is listening & asking questions.
    • Experts are amazed at his understanding and his answers.
  • The model for coming to know more about God: Asking and answering questions. Thinking & seeking together in a dialogue.

When Joseph and Mary find him, they are astonished, but they also express their anxiety and dismay.

  • Mary asks, “Why have you treated us this way? Your father & I have been anxiously searching for you.” (2:48)
    • Jesus responds to his mother: Did you not know that I had to be in my Father’s house? (see “my house” in Lk. 19:45-48)
  • Mary and Joseph do not understand Jesus.
    • As he first declares that God is his Father in public, his parents are shocked, confused, & struggle to understand.
    • Morris: His answer shows that thus early Jesus had a clear idea of the importance of the service of God and probably also that he stood in a special relationship to God. The expression my Father is noteworthy and no parallel appears to be cited (the Jews added ‘in heaven’ or used ‘our Father’ or the like). The first recorded words of the Messiah are then a recognition of his unique relationship to God and of the necessity (must) of his being in the Father’s house…. Jesus had a relationship to God shared by no other. Joseph and Mary did not understand this. They learnt what Jesus’ Messiahship meant bit by bit.[1]
    • Does Luke expect his readers to experience astonishment as well as some anxiety & dismay as our understanding of Jesus changes?
  • Jesus was willing to leave Joseph, his earthly father, in order to be about his heavenly Father’s business.
    • Later he tells his disciples that they must be willing to leave father and mother to follow him.
      • Jesus practiced what he preached.
    • The paradox: Jesus can go back to Nazareth with them in subjection to them.
      • The commandment, honor your father and mother, is a part of his thinking and practice.

III. The Introduction Ends as the Story Continues to Introduce the Reader to Jesus (More Surprises ahead)

Mary treasures all these things in her heart. (ponder, reflect, meditate)

  • Another way in which our knowing God develops. (see also 2:19)

Jesus Continues to Be Prepared by the Father (2:40, 52)

  • For the 2nd time, Luke tells us that Jesus grows in wisdom & favor.
  • Green: The two summary statements (2:40, 52) form an inclusio around the account of Jesus’ visit to the temple. Both summaries note Jesus’ particular relation to God (characterized as one of “favor”), and both mention the boy’s “wisdom.” Importantly, these two matters serve as focal points in the illustrative account, for at issue here is Jesus’ remarkable understanding (2:47) and the implications of his particular relation to God (2:48–49). Luke 2:40–52, then, and particularly 2:51b-52, bring to closure the narrative cycle initiated by the promise of a child to Mary. The child has been born, his coming repeatedly interpreted and celebrated. Now we see him grappling with his divine vocation, albeit provisionally, and we are informed of God’s continued favor on behalf of the child as he matures. With this news, we are prepared for the anticipated return to the story of John (cf. 1:80), who will pave the way for the public ministry of Jesus (1:76–77).[2]

Application: My Desire to Really Know Jesus as the Motive for Prayerful Study and Reflection.

N.T. Wright: “As we read this story prayerfully, then, we can probably identify quite easily with Mary and Joseph—and perhaps with Jesus, too, quietly asserting an independence of mind and vocation, while still returning home and living in obedience to Mary and Joseph. We may want to remember times when we thought we’d lost someone or something very precious. We may want to reflect on whether we have taken Jesus himself for granted; if Mary and Joseph could do it, there is every reason to suppose that we can too. We mustn’t assume he is accompanying us as we go off on our own business. But if and when we sense the lack of his presence, we must be prepared to hunt for him, to search for him in prayer, in the scriptures, in the sacraments, and not to give up until we find him again. We must expect, too, that when we do meet him again he will not say or do what we expect. He must be busy with his father’s work. So must we.”[1]

Scripture is designed for study & meditation.

  • In the new year, make time each day to work with scripture.
    • Not necessarily plowing through the entire Bible in a year.
    • Many burn out trying that.
  • Consider a methodical & prayerful reading of Scripture to go deeper.
    • Find a valuable resource(s) that helps your reflections on and your understanding of this ancient text.
    • Do not substitute your use of a resourse for the actual work of meditation & spending time with the text, sometimes for days at a time, so that you begin to hear and see Jesus more clearly.
  • Consider the text I preach on Sunday, use it through the week with a good reference Bible to help you find other texts that will enrich your insight and help you test to see if what I am preaching is reliable.
    • To assist in that, we are posting my notes online so that you can be reminded of key ideas & passages I refer to.
  • As you study & reflect, ask: What would change in your life if you built your life on Jesus’ word & became a wise apprentice (Lk. 6:46-49)?
    • Pray that God will search you and show you what you need to change or do as a disciple/an apprentice of Jesus.
    • Pray that the Holy Spirit will give you insight & understanding and strengthen your will so that your live may become more like Jesus.

You Start with Jesus and Simple Faith, and You Allow Him to Teach and Train You for Life in the Kingdom of God

[1] Wright, T. (2004). Luke for Everyone (p. 30). Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

[1] Morris, L. (1988). Luke: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 3, p. 109). InterVarsity Press.

[2] Green, J. B. (1997). The Gospel of Luke (pp. 153–154). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.