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.
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.
And then there was in the 19th century the famous John Stewart Mill. He was often called a manufactured genius. He was the product of an educational experiment that reads like a record of medieval torture. His irritable father was a historian and philosopher named James Mill. He forced his son to learn Greek at three, history at four, Latin, geometry and algebra by eight. By twelve he had read Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Terrance, Cicero, Homer, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Thucydides and Demosthenes—all in Greek. His father required him to write English verse and educate his younger siblings. John Stewart Mill eventually became a world-renowned philosopher.
And then there was also living on into the beginning of the 20th century, Truman Henry Safford, son of a Vermont farmer. He showed his precocity at age three when his parents amused themselves with his calculating powers. At seven he studied algebra and geometry. At nine he constructed and published an almanac. At ten he originated a new rule for obtaining moon risings and settings in one quarter of the time of previous methods. At aged ten he was asked to square the number, that is, to multiply it by itself, the number 365,365,365,365,365,365. He gave the correct answer in less than a minute. I’m not going to read you the 40 numbers that make up the answer. Obviously he was smart. He graduated from Harvard at the age of 18.
By the way, are you thinking of removing the bumper sticker from your car?
Further into the 20th century there is William James Sidis, son of a Harvard psychology professor who used to use his child to prove that children could master very complex subjects at a young age. At six months he knew his ABC’s. At two years he read adult books. He was in to advanced mathematics at three, and mastered French by four. At eight he graduated from high school. After independent study in Greek, Latin, German, Russian, French, Turkish and Armenian, he entered Harvard at 11 where he lectured the Harvard mathematical society on fourth-dimensional bodies.