There are two verses in the early life of Jesus that tell us how he is doing, Luke 2:40,52. "And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him." "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." What does this spiritual growth chart tell us about Jesus as a child? Before I delve into this, let me first say something about children today. My greatest fear about our kids is that we don't expect enough from them. I fear we have come to fear our children. Kids intimidate us because they seem to be able to play a trump card when we require "too much" of them, i.e. they tune us out. They have so many more ways to do that these days-they don't even have to leave the room. They can just push a touchscreen and get sucked into cyberspace, and they are gone. We love our children so much we allow them to check in and out at will because we fear they will check out and never come back. I know I am being a little over dramatic here, but I don't think I am far from the truth. The ideals expressed in these two verses that constitute the "stature of the full of Christ" in his youth should be our standard for our kids. We say we want them to be like Jesus. Well what was Jesus like when he was a kid?
He was strong. How so? I assume there is some indication here that he was physically strong, but not completely. The other things being said here are spiritual in nature. I can't imagine that Jesus' physical strength is the focus on this word. In what ways do we want our children to be strong? How about standing up to bullies, or taking a stand in moral choices, or being strong in their faith. I was much more impressed with my children's ability to defend their faith than to prove how many muscles they had. I want my grandchildren to be strong of heart, mind, will, and emotions. I want some spiritual toughness that can withstand the knocks of life.
He was wise. How so? He didn't do stupid things. A child's brain isn't fully formed until the mid-twenties. So they often do stupid things. But, do we assume because of this that this is par for the course? Jesus proved that a child can be wise. In our desire to be always "age-appropriate" do we fail to expose our children to the wisdom of the older generation that can help them reach maturity sooner? Wisdom begets wisdom. If a child is only around other children who are as immature as they are, then how do they gain wisdom. So at twelve Jesus is holding his own in the temple among the teachers of the law. Perhaps we should ask the question, "How was he able to do that and what went into his training that produced such an outcome?"
He had grace all over him. There is much that could be said about grace, but how did it manifest itself in a child? Jesus learn to give. He was not selfish, self-centered, entitled. He received the grace of God into his life, allowing him to have grace to give others. A child can only pass on what they have. Is your child receiving the grace of God, knowing they are blessed, sensing his love and presence? I fear too many children are all about what is in it for them. Being able to sympathize with other children, to notice when a friend is sad or hurt, to sense when mommy is tired and care , is all a part of being full of grace.
A child like Jesus does not happen by accident. There is a deliberate training and philosophy of child-rearing that produces these results. In knowing the mind of Christ, it is essential that we even explore his mind as a child. In doing so, we find nuggets (not chicken) of truth and insight that can pay tremendous dividends for our children.