Close Menu X

The Undespisable Youth

August 27, 2017 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:

Topic: Testimony Verse: Luke 2:39–2:52


Luke 2:39-52

Theme: Believers must recognize their responsibility for godliness – regardless of their age.

Introduction: Most parents have high hope for their children – they want to give their children every possible advantage from educational excellence to extracurricular activities, from technology to dietary choices – parents do all that they can to make sure their children have every opportunity to flourish and “be all that they can be.” However, at some point, a parent cannot insure a child’s future. The child himself becomes responsible to aspire, prepare, apply themselves, and achieve. In most cases, a young person must shoulder the responsibility for what they become. Ultimately the Scriptures place the responsibility at the feet of a young person for their development and faith. We have statements such as: “Let know one despise or look down on your youth – but show yourself an example of those who believe …” (1 Timothy 4:12); and, “I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you …” (2 Timothy 1:5-6); and, “… that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). A child does not have to wait until some future time of adulthood to become serious about their faith and “own it.” I speak today to our young people – that they ought to look to the Lord Jesus Christ – even as He provided them example of faith when only a child – to see what God expects of them even now. We cannot afford to “give a pass” to children and not expect them to know the power of God’s Spirit to produce wisdom, faith and obedience in their lives to the glory of God. Adolescence is a Time for growth in Wisdom, a Transition in Growth in Wisdom, and finally a Test in Growth in Wisdom.   

I. Early Adolescence Is a Time for Growth in Wisdom – 2:39-40

A.The Influence of Guidance – v. 39

  • Our text picks up the narrative with a description of Joseph and Mary continuing in their upright and holy lives – “When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth.”
  • Not included in Luke’s account is the flight of Jesus into Egypt or the visit by the Magi.
  • We see the account of the childhood of Jesus being focused on what happened once he was at home with his parents in their hometown of Nazareth.
  • It is interesting to note the development of Jesus traced in this passage – from “childhood” [παιδίον] (v. 40) to the “boy” [παῖς] (v. 43) to “son” [τέκνον] (v. 48)
  • Yet we see here the great blessing that Jesus knew as he grew – the kind of devotion and godliness of his parents that caused them to be devout in their obedience to the Word of God.
  • Their example provided Jesus with a base by which He could observe the joyful submission to God displayed by his parents.
  • This is a key element in parenting – the ability to provide a consistent example of a love for God that possesses integrity and not façade.

B. The Influence of Grace – v. 40

  • Yet the example of godly parents is not enough – unless the grace of God is exercised, a child cannot come to know the Lord personally.
  • Yet we see that Jesus as a “child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.”
  • Interesting, this description is a summary of Jesus’ development:
  1. “to grow” [αὐξάνω] – a reference to causing to become greater in extent or size
  2. “… become strong” [κραταιόω] – a reference to becoming firm – in a physical sense it refers to physical maturity; in a psychological context it refers to becoming resolute and confident.
  3. “increasing in wisdom” [πληρούμενον σοφίᾳ] – a reference to his development of wisdom – that he became increasingly dominated by a perspective that processed things from God’s Word and will.
  • The key to Jesus development was the fact the God’s favor was upon Him – “and the grace of God was upon Him” – not in a salvific sense – that is, not in the sense of undeserved favor; but, in the sense of God was delighted to bless Jesus and in his case, He was worthy!
  • This is the proper description of a young person’s development – physically, psychologically, and spiritually.


  • In what ways do parents’ obedience to the Word of God influence a child?
  • How can the pursuit of wisdom become a greater priority in one’s life?
  • For the youth: How is God’s grace making a difference in your life?

II.   Middle Adolescence Is a Transition in Growth in Wisdom – 2:41-50

A. The Transition to Personal Faith – vv. 41-47

  • Jesus’ parents continued to display the loving devotion to God as they actively participated in the assemblies that God had called upon believers to conduct – “Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.”
  • We are told that on that very special year when Jesus turned 12 – the traditional time of bar mitzvah – when a youth became a “son of the Law” – Jesus was again in Jerusalem with His parents – “And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast.”
  • A significant event happened that demonstrates that Jesus had not merely a faith imposed by His parents, but a personal desire to grow further in His comprehension of God and His Word – “… and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem”
  • This was a decision that Jesus made that was an indication of His own yearning, desire, and faith – “But His parents were unaware of it.”
  1. We are then oriented to their discovery of Jesus’ absence – “but [they] supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day’s journey” – men would travel with men; women with women; and kids would “hang out” with kids until the evening when families would reassemble.
  2. “… and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances” – they suddenly realized that Jesus wasn’t in the caravan.
  3. “When they didn’t find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking or Him” – concluding that somehow they had “forgotten” Him!
  4. “Then after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.” – the three days described the day traveling away from Jerusalem, the day returning to Jerusalem, and the day of searching for Him.
  • Jesus was engaged during His parents’ travels interacting with the experts in the Law of God – “listening to them and asking them questions” – His yearning to know was profound.
  • Yet, the insights that He Himself shared were profound – “And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers” – evident that He was being asked questions by the teachers as well.

B. The Testimony of Personal Faith – vv. 48-50

  • “When they saw Him, they were astonished” [ἐκπλήσσω] – filled with amazement to the point of being overwhelmed – “dumbfounded”
  • Mary’s response demonstrated the frustration that she and Joseph were experiencing through the ordeal of his being “lost” – “and His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.”
  • They had been “anxious” [ὀδυνάω] – a reference to mental torment or pain – a term used for suffering in Hell – Luke 16:24.
  • Jesus’ response indicated that a major shift had occurred in His perspective and in His relationship with them – “And He said to them, ‘Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?’”
  • In response to Mary’s reference to Jesus’ “father” – Jesus indicated that God was His “Father” – and that His primary responsibility was to honor His “Father” in Heaven – cp. John 6:38.
  • This signaled a major shift in accountability – He was aware that in the ultimate sense, He was not under the authority of His parents, but His heavenly Father.
  • This reality of His relationship to His Heavenly Father is what ultimately caused His crucifixion – His claim to be the “Son of God” – cp. Luke 1:35; Luke 10:21-22; John 5:17-18; John 19:17
  • What infuriated the Jews was to claim that God was His Father and that He was the Son of God – it was a claim to be full equality with God as the term “son” described essence or quality – “Son of encouragement,” “Sons of thunder,” “son of perdition,” “sons of disobedience,” “sons of light,” etc …, do not merely refer to origin, but to nature.
  • Hence, Jesus statement here – the first time He claimed that God was “His Father” was a major declaration of His identity.
  • In a sense, when we are truly born again, we gain the awareness that we are made sons of God – that is, our nature is transformed and we become partakers of the divine nature through regeneration – John 1:12; 1 John 3:1-2; 2 Peter 1:4.
  • However, Joseph and Mary didn’t understand all that Jesus was claiming – “But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them.”


  • How do our pursuits/occupations/amusements demonstrate our priorities?
  • What is the problem with parents making themselves the focus in their correction of a child?
  • For the youth: when should you begin to feel responsible for your faith and pursuit of God? How does Jesus’ example provide you incentive?

III.Late Adolescence Is a Test of Growth in Wisdom – 2:51-52

A.The Test of Self-Control – v. 51

  • Given that Jesus was aware of His responsibility and accountability to God His Father, He committed Himself to obedience to all that God had commanded.
  • For this reason, Jesus “went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection [ὑποτάσσω] to them” – His accountability to God didn’t cause Him to discount His parents’ authority at all, it caused their authority to become all the more significant to Jesus.
  • Jesus’ obedience to the 5th Commandment of honoring your father and your mother became and essential part of Jesus’ perfect obedience to the Law of God – cp. Hebrews 5:8; Philippians 2:8
  • Interestingly, as young people grow up and begin to exercise levels of independence, they sometimes feel the need to rebel against their parents’ authority.
  • Such lack of self-control does not speak of maturity and wisdom, but immaturity and foolishness – Jesus at the age of 12 was completely aware of His independence but it caused Him to appreciate the self-control needed to remain able to honor His parents.

B. The Test of Sanctification – v. 52

  • Jesus continued to mature from the age of twelve – this verse is the summary verse of 18 years of Jesus’ life from 12-30 – “And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature …”
  1. “increasing” [προκόπτω] – describes to progress toward a final stage or “to advance” – meaning that He continued to grow in all respects.
  2. “… in wisdom” [σοφία] – essentially refers to having a command of circumstances of life from the most advantageous perspective – from God’s perspective
  3. “… and stature” [ἡλικία] – a reference to aging or maturing – often used of bodily structure – Ephesians 4:13.
  • He also continued to gain “favor with God and man” – God continued to be pleased with His Son – favoring Him – this is the very perspective that God has of us who are in Christ Jesus.
  • Jesus also grew in respect to man’s respect as well as He submitted Himself to the Word of God – He was well thought of – cp. Matthew 13:54.


  • How should Jesus’ example of subjection to his parents inspire our own humility in subjection to authorities in our lives? 
  • How does Jesus’ example provide us guidance in how to gain favor with others?