Summary: This sermon shows that the human Jesus grew in the ways that all children do, each step of growth preparing him to fulfill his Father’s eternal mission.
Today is the First Sunday After Christmas. Each Sunday during Advent and Christmas we looked at one of the readings read during this season. Today, I would like to examine Luke 2:39-52.
Luke the historian has given us a marvelous account leading up to our text today regarding the advent and birth of Jesus. One Bible commentator puts it this way: “Mission accomplished, census enrollment completed, miraculous baby birthed, circumcision performed, name given, purification carried out, firstborn presented and dedicated, [and] blessings and prophecies heard and stored away in amazement.”
Now, Luke tells us about how Jesus grew in favor with God and man. Let’s read Luke 2:39-52:
39 And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.
41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:39-52)
All parents are really proud of their children. We love to see our children grow. And we are especially proud of them when they excel in a certain area. In fact, if children excel in school, some parents proudly display stickers on the bumpers of their cars that say, “My child is an honor student at Such-and-Such School”! And it seems that each year more of these bumper stickers appear.
Sometimes, however, we overestimate the abilities of our precious children, especially when compared with true child geniuses. Let me mention a few true child geniuses.
First, there was Sean Louis Cardiak. He was born in France in the 18th century. He was known as “The wonder child.” At three months old Sean could recite the alphabet. At four years old he not only read Latin but translated it into English and French. By six he read Greek and Hebrew, and was proficient in arithmetic, history, geography and genealogies. He died in Paris when he was seven.
And then there was Christian Friedrich Heinecken. He was known throughout Europe as “The Infant of Lebec,” after his birthplace in Germany. In addition to an astounding faculty for numbers, little Christian reportedly knew all the principle events in the Bible by the time he was one year old. At three he was conversant with world history, geography, Latin and French. The king of Denmark sent for him in 1724 to confirm these stories of the child’s extraordinary abilities. Shortly after his stay in Copenhagen, however, little Christian became ill and died at age four.
And then there was the very famous Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, maybe the most prodigious of all child prodigies. Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria. At four he began music lessons with his violinist father. At five he composed minuets. At six he was a virtuoso on the violin and harpsichord, and toured with his older sister, creating a sensation in European courts with this phenomenal ability to sight-read music and improvise. He wrote his first symphony at eight. At eleven he was forced to compose in solitary confinement for the suspicious Archbishop of Salzburg. He passed the test and was offered the salaried job of City Concert Master. At twelve he wrote two operas and a mass. His reputation grew over the years. His operas, concertos and symphonies were of the highest order. Today he is still regarded as one of the world’s supreme geniuses.