The Undespisable Youth
Topic: Testimony Verse: Luke 2:39–2:52
“THE UNDESPISABLE YOUTH”
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:
- “to grow” [αὐξάνω] – a reference to causing to become greater in extent or size
- “… 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.
- “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.”
- 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.
- “… and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances” – they suddenly realized that Jesus wasn’t in the caravan.
- “When they didn’t find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking or Him” – concluding that somehow they had “forgotten” Him!
- “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 …”
- “increasing” [προκόπτω] – describes to progress toward a final stage or “to advance” – meaning that He continued to grow in all respects.
- “… in wisdom” [σοφία] – essentially refers to having a command of circumstances of life from the most advantageous perspective – from God’s perspective
- “… 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?