Summary: What was Jesus like as a child? Did he know that he was the messiah? Luke provides his own testimony as to Jesus' identity and mission as the Son of God.

Pastor Brad Reaves

Grace Community Church

Winchester, VA

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Have you ever heard or even met a child prodigy? We all believe our children will be baby geniuses. In the 18th century, Jean Louis Cardiac was known as the wonder child. Jean could recite the alphabet when he was three months old. At the age of four, he not only read Latin but translated it into English and French. He read Greek and Hebrew and was proficient in such subjects as arithmetic, history, geography, and genealogies by six. He died in Paris when he was seven.

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. He wrote his first symphony at eight and at eleven, forced to compose in solitary confinement for the suspicious archbishop of Salzburg, he passed the test and was offered the salary job of city concertmaster at eleven. At twelve he wrote two operas and a mass.

Joel Kupperman was born in 1936. He was able to solve complex math problems by memory in just seconds. His IQ was in excess of 200, it was not measurable. At five he had the highest general mental development of any child tested ever by the Chicago public schools and eventually, he received his Ph.D. at Cambridge.

Michael Gross astounded his mother by reading aloud to her without any previous instruction. His IQ is so high it can't be measured. On his first day in kindergarten, he saw a classmate coloring an apple blue. He remarked with interest, "That's the kind of approach Picasso would use." At ten he moved directly from fifth grade to Michigan State University. He became the youngest college freshman in nearly a century, graduated with a Ph.D. finally from Yale before he was twenty. (Illustration Credit: John MacArthur)

These were amazing children, but all of these children fade into foolishness compared with one twelve-year-old boy named Jesus, the child who was God. Luke goes out of his way to make sure we understand Jesus was not just an ordinary boy who happened to become an enlightened religious sage. He knew from the moment he was born who he was and what he was to do. He knew he was God. The Old Testament prophets knew he was God. The Angels announced his birth knew, as did Zechariah and Elizabeth, and Joseph and Mary.

I. The Childhood of Jesus

So, we have very little in Scripture about who Jesus was as a child. In fact, Luke’s account that we are reading is the only source of information. So what was happening? Well, we have some clues they’re important. When we last left Jesus, he was 40 days old. Joseph and Mary had taken him to the Temple for dedication. They offered 2 Turtle Doves as an offering of purification as required by law, for someone too poor to afford a lamb. They meet Simeon and Anna it says:

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. (Luke 2:39–40 ESV)

Now there’s quite a bit that happens here that Luke chooses to omit. First, we know Jesus is visited by the Magi, we find that in Matthew 2. This hasn’t happened yet because they are offering Turtle Doves instead of a Lamb. With the wealth they were given by the Maggi, they could’ve afforded a lamb. After the Maggi leaves, Joseph takes Mary and Jesus to flee to Egypt because he is warned in a dream of the danger that is coming. That, of course, is the slaughtering of innocents where King Herod orders that every Jewish boy under the age of 2 be killed because he’s heard that the King of the Jews has been born. So Joseph and Mary stayed in Bethlehem from the birth of Jesus for as long as 2 years before fleeing to Egypt and then eventually returning to Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth until we find him again at twelve.

After the event we’re about to read in verse 41, Luke concludes chapter 2 with the words,

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:52)

This covers Jesus’ childhood for 18 years until his public ministry when Jesus is 30 years old. So Luke provides us with some glimpses into his childhood that we know after they fled to Egypt he lived in Nazareth. At 12 years old we know he went to the Temple and then he continued to live in Nazareth until he turned 30 and started his public ministry. John calls him Jesus of Nazareth and Nathaniel questions “if anything good can come from Nazareth.” (John 1:46).

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