“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Luke 2:52
We often say we know very little of Jesus and his younger years. We wonder what it must have been like for him growing up and what his home life was all about. There is however an incident recorded in Luke’s gospel which reveals a lot to us about Jesus’ younger years, and it contains one of the most profound parenting texts of the whole New Testament. At the time Jesus was twelve years of age, about to become a tenacious teenager, already a young person who was strong willed and independent, “After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it,” Luke 2:43. From this unfolding incident we gain some unique insights into how Jesus developed as a teenager, became a young adult, following on to his public ministry from age thirty.
Cognitive Development (IQ)
Already at age twelve Jesus experienced the call of His Heavenly Father on his life and responded to it by staying behind in Jerusalem to engage in deep discussions with the religious intellectuals of the day. He listened to them and asked them questions as well as gave them some profound answers,“Everyone who heard him wasamazed at his understanding and his answers,” Luke 2:47. In similar fashion, as parents we should encourage our children to develop their ability to reason, listen, ask insightful questions and think logically from an early age. Clearly Jesus would have been a challenge to parents who agree with the expression, “children should be seen and not heard.”
Physical Development (PQ)
Not only was Jesus, as a teenager, able to hold his own with the intellectuals of his day, he was also very capable of swinging a ten pound hammer with the “manne” – the text says he “grew in … stature”. He was after-all an apprentice carpenter who worked long hours and understood the demands of farmers, builders, businessmen and homeowners who wanted their diverse equipment well made at a competitive price, and delivered on time. It may well be time to get our teenagers involved in some activities that stretch them physically more than just their fingers on a keyboard.
Spiritual Development (SQ)
Jesus grew, “In favour with God”, evidence that the faith his parents had nurtured in him was able to bare much fruit into his teen years and young adult life. As Christian parents we know that spiritual guidance is the most important kind of development we can offer our children, which helps them find their own moral compass and purpose in life. Well centred biblical spiritual development is at the core of the happy teen years of children who have come to know what it is to experience God’s favour as Jesus did, by making good life decisions.
Relational Development (RQ)
The text finishes by stating that Jesus grew in “favour with man (all people)”. These relational skills were already present in Jesus as he respectfully engaged with the teachers in the temple courts. All the people were amazed at his understanding and answers which demonstrates his ability to relate properly to those who were much older than he was. We would do well to follow the example of Jesus here with our children, encouraging them to share their knowledge and understanding with people of all ages in a winsome way.
It seems then that Jesus committed himself for the next eighteen years of his life to developing himself to the best of his ability in these four areas mentioned above, affirmed by His Father at the inauguration of his ministry, “And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased,” Luke 3:22. So Jesus serves as a role model for the teen and young adult years of our children and for parents … and for churches who wish to grow biblical, effective ministries for children, teens and young adults.
Prayer: Father you have given us the perfect example for profound parenting in your Word. Please lead and guide us as parents at home and spiritual leaders in our churches to follow the living example of your Son Jesus.