Summary: The mind of Christ has had a great impact on this world, greater than any other mind. His church has done more to influence the intellectual development of mankind than any other institution.

A teacher began his Sunday School class by starting a

discussion. He said he was reading in the Bible about a living

dog and a dead lion, and he asked the class which they would

rather be? There was a pause, and then Jack spoke up and

said, "I'd rather be the living dog. It's better to be alive than

dead any day." Alec spoke up and said, "Oh, I don't know

about that. A dead lion has been a living lion while a living

dog will be a dead dog someday. I think I'd rather be the

dead lion." A third child had just sat in silence, but then he

responded, "Well, I'd like to be a little of both. I'd like to be

a lion like the one, and alive like the other." I am sure the

teacher was surprised at this clever solution. Children can

often surprise us with their ability to answer questions in

ways that we would not think of.

This was the case with Jesus when He was a child. One of

the very first impressions we get of Jesus is that He was a

brilliant boy. He had a keen mind, and Luke makes a point

of this fact. In 2:40 he writes, "The child grew and became

strong, filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was upon

Him." Luke goes on to show just how sharp His mental

growth was by telling us of His experience in the temple with

the scholars. In verses 46-47 he says that Jesus was listening

and asking questions, and all who heard Him were amazed at

His understanding and answers. Jesus was only 12 years old,

but He was already a diligent student, and was able to carry

on intelligent conversations with mature theologians.

We are not to read into this that Jesus was putting the

teachers of the temple to shame by His superior wisdom.

The language indicates that He was a student. He was

learning from them, but was a very keen student with

provocative questions and perceptive answers. Luke closes

the chapter with another reference to the growth of Jesus in

the four basic areas of manhood: The physical, the

intellectual, the spiritual, and the social. We want to focus on

His intellect.

The very fact of the growth of Christ in knowledge and

wisdom is a clear demonstration of the reality of His full

humanity. As a child He was not only not the omniscient

God that He was in pre-incarnate state, but He was not even

a mature man. Jesus was a true child, and was immature

and ignorant of a great deal about life. He had to learn and

mature by means of study, observation, and by asking

questions and listening to others. This is one obvious reason

why we do not have any record of the words and acts of Jesus

as a boy and a young man. In that state when He had not yet

grown to full maturity of wisdom and perfection of mind, His

words were not of eternal value. His wisdom at that point

was not worthy of being recorded for all generations, for it

would not yet be greater than the wisdom of the scholars of

His day.

Jesus waited until His preparation was complete to begin

His ministry of public teaching. His years of silence up to

that point were years of profound preparation in thought.

Jesus was not just killing time. He had a mother and family

to provide for, but He was also developing His mind through

the study of Scripture. Jesus only had three and a half years

of ministry, but He changed the world because He developed

quality of thinking. His mind was in perfect accord with the

mind of God before He acted. We can never know the IQ of

Jesus, but we can assume that as a strong healthy child with

the pure human heritage of Mary, and the perfect divine

heritage of the Holy Spirit, that He was a genius.

Apocryphal stories have Him teaching astronomy and other

sciences of the day, and there is no reason to doubt that Jesus

could have done so. It is only doubtful that He did because

this was not His ministry. He did reveal, however, that He

was a well educated man, even though He did not attend any

formal school of higher education.

In John 7:15 we see the response of the people to the

teaching of Jesus in the temple. "The Jews marveled at it,

saying, how is it that this man has learning, when He has

never studied?" G. Campbell Morgan comments: "The

emphasis of their question lay, not upon the spiritual

teaching of Jesus, but upon the illustrations He used, and

upon the evident acquaintance with what was then spoken of

as learning. It was not that they were overwhelmed by t a

sense of His spiritual insight, for, then as now, men knew that

spiritual insight often belonged to those who had no learning.

They were impressed by the beauty of His expression, the

wealth of His illustration, and His evident familiarity with

those things, to become acquainted with which, men gave

themselves up to long courses of study. The mind of Christ

was refined, cultured, and beautiful..."

Jesus was self educated, and was an intellectual of His

day. He knew His nations past history well through His

study of the Old Testament. He used it often in His teaching,

and for sake of argument He could refer back to the stories of

Naaman, and the widow of Zarephath. He was alert to the

contemporary events, and He used them for illustrations, as

in the case of the Galileans whose blood Pilate mixed with

their sacrifices, and the 18 on whom the tower of Siloam fell.

He was exceptionally perceptive in the use of nature and the

common events of life for illustrating spiritual truth.

Jesus was a student of all times, and He was aware of

what was, what is, and what was to be. The point we are

emphasizing, however, is that He was this as a man and not

as God. He emptied Himself of His omniscience when He

became a man, and clearly took upon Himself the limitations

of finite intelligence. When He was a child in Nazareth He,

like Paul in Tarsus, spoke like a child, thought like a child,

and acted like a child, but as He matured He put away

childish things. Jesus had to develop His capacity just as all

men do. Percy Ainsworth said, "Nazareth was silent

concerning the great One who had stooped to share its lowly

life, because it did not know that He was great, or that He

had stooped." He was only an ordinary carpenter to them

until He began to express His wisdom and power in teaching

and miracles.

Jesus had wisdom superior to any man who ever lived.

Solomon had this distinction before, but Jesus said a greater

than Solomon is here, and He was referring to Himself. His

wisdom and knowledge was supernatural in that it was often

beyond what even a perfect could know, but it was

nevertheless human knowledge in the sense that it was

possible only because of His perfect relationship to God.

What I am saying is one of the paradoxes of Christ's

humanity. Both His growth and wisdom and His perfection

of wisdom demonstrate the full reality of His humanity. His

growth and limitation show Him to be like us, but His

perfection shows Him to beyond us, but as an ideal to which

we can strive, because He reached that point by developing

to its full capacity the relationship of one's humanity to God.

To put it simply, everything that Jesus did and knew which

was supernatural, He did as a man, and thus revealed the

possibilities of manhood in perfect relationship to God.

S. D. Gordon in Quiet Talks About Jesus states his view of

this same idea. He says of Jesus, "He was as truly human as

though only human....In His ability to read men's thoughts

and know their lives without finding out by ordinary means,

His knowledge ahead of coming events, His knowledge of and

control over nature, He clearly was more than the human we

know. Yet until we know more than we seem to now of the

proper powers of an unfallen man matured and growing in

the use and control of those powers we cannot draw here any

line between human and divine. But the whole presumption

is in favor of believing that in all of this Jesus was simply

exercising the proper human power which with Him were not

hurt by sin but ever increasing in use." This is all the more

likely when we consider that men who were imperfect and

sinners were endowed by God with supernatural knowledge

and power.

Men before and after Jesus did miracles, and foresaw the

future. Jesus said men after Him would do even greater

things than He did. Jesus demonstrated the great potential

of manhood in the realm of the mind if it is centered on God

and His will. The secret of the wisdom and power of Jesus

was in His total dependence upon God His Father. Listen to

His own words in John 5:19-20. "Truly, truly, I say to you,

the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He

sees the Father doing, for what ever He does, that the Son

does likewise. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him

all that He Himself is doing, and greater works than these

will He show Him, that you may marvel."

The perfect submission of His manhood to God allowed

His humanity to be an instrument of supernatural knowledge

and power. Knowledge in a human mind becomes a force for

God in the world when the mind is open to God's leading to

fulfill His purpose. If intellectuals are often fools, and

promoters of evil, it is not due to their being intellectuals, but

due to the lack of their vision of God and yieldedness to His


Jesus would have us learn all we can to the glory of God.

All knowledge can be so used. Jesus was a keen user of logic,

and He used it constantly in His teaching to persuade, and in

His arguments with His opponents. Jesus would have us

develop our minds as instruments for God's purpose, even as

He did. He said to His disciples that they should be wise as

serpents and harmless as doves. He urged men to come to

Him and learn of Him. He was the fulfillment of the ideal

man of the Old Testament. He was a man of knowledge and

wisdom. John says He was full of grace and truth. Paul says

that in Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and

knowledge. The mind of Christ has had a great impact on

this world, greater than any other mind. His church has

done more to influence the intellectual development of

mankind than any other institution.

Bill Harvey wrote,

He never wrote a book with pen and ink,

But with His life, He caused more men to think

Then any other man. He never played

Upon an instrument, and yet He made

More hearts to sing and made more fingers glide

Along the string and ivory and guide

More melodies of praise to Him than all

The symphonies this world could e'er recall.

Neither architect nor artist He

Was ever called in rugged Galilee,

And yet, a steeple seldom points above

But what a builder has been thinking of

The Carpenter, the Craftsman of Ages.

He built and He is building yet, and sages

Who are wise still recognized this King

And say He's Lord of all; of everything.

He is Lord of our minds, and He commands us to love

God with all of our mind. Paul says that we are to let the

mind of Christ be in us. To learn of and submit to the mind

of the Master is to begin a journey toward the highest

possible intellectual development of your humanity.