【Bible Study】 Luke 02: Grow in Wisdom And Stature, And in Favor with God and Man
Bible Study: The Gospel of Luke
Good evening everyone! Today let's look at Luke Chapter 2. The main point of this chapter is “Grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man”. This is from the last verse of this Chapter:
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:52)
This chapter gives a detailed account of the life of Jesus Christ, from His birth to His growth when He was young. You may be wondering how the author, Luke, got to know all these stories since he had never met Jesus before. Luke got to know these stories through careful investigation of what he heard from other people. Luke was certain about all these things because he himself was an eyewitness of the mighty power of Jesus Christ and the miracles and signs performed by Apostle Paul. He related what he saw and experienced with the teachings of Jesus and the stories of the Bible and gradually formed a complete system of belief. This system of belief can be reflected in how he recorded the birth and growth of Jesus Christ.
That's why I set the main point of this chapter to be "Grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man". It is important to have a mindset of growth. Jesus Christ was born by Maria through conception by the Holy Spirit. But he didn't just suddenly turn into a grown adult, full of wisdom. He was like every one of us, being born by the mother and gradually becoming from a baby to a teenager, a young man, and finally an adult. He only started to serve God in his thirties.
We all tend to look for a superhero who was born with special talent. But Jesus opened for us a path of growth in wisdom and stature. That's why Jesus Christ was born into this world. In this way, He has set a good example for us using His own life. We can become like Jesus as required by the Bible. Jesus is not a superhero, nor an angel-like saint. He was just an ordinary person like you and me. He showed us that we can rely on Him in every matter we face and we can overcome all difficulties together with Him.
I start to realize more and more that understanding is paramount to us. Wisdom and stature are inseparable from understanding. From the growth of Jesus Christ, we can see how Jesus gained His wisdom from God: not by copying and pasting, but by reading God's words, pondering over them, and exploring. In this process, He grew in wisdom and stature gradually.
When Jesus reached twelve, He became so bright that everyone was amazed at His understanding. This was from His constant learning, not from His miraculous birth. Many of us have this misunderstanding that we don't have to learn or work and we can gain wisdom and skills just by praying or being filled with Holy Spirit. But this surely doesn't work.
The birth of Jesus Christ was full of miracles. Firstly, according to the prophecies in the Bible, the Messiah should be born in Bethlehem of Juda, but Maria was living in Nazareth of Galilee, about two hundred kilometers from Bethlehem. This is from the north of Israel of its south. Normally no one would have imagined that a girl in Nazareth could give birth to the Messiah. But at that time, the 罗马的皇帝奥古斯都 commanded that everyone should go back to his or her hometown for a census. So Maria left for Bethlehem together with her husband Joseph, because that was their hometown.
When the couple arrived at Bethlehem, the city was in a mess because everyone returned to the place and there was no vacant room in any of the inns. So Maria and Joseph had to find a place in a 马棚, and Jesus was then born in a manger.
That night, an angel appeared to the shepherds in the fields nearby and told them that the Messiah had been born in a manger. Then the shepherds hurried off to Bethlehem and they did find the baby Jesus in the manger. This is indeed a miracle! But even this miracle cannot substitute the growth of Jesus. Jesus had to go through the process of growing from a little baby to an adult.
That is to say, we human beings all have to go through the same process of growth, like Jesus, step by step, day by day. You could be born in a miraculous way, but this doesn't mean you don't have to learn and grow after that. The Bible told us to read the words of God well and put the words into practice. So Jesus was like every one of us, growing little by little in wisdom and stature.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child. (Luke 2:8-17)
These shepherds were waiting for the birth of the Messiah. They might have been talking about this every day. In that age, the news that the Messiah was going to be born was spreading all over Israel. And finally, they saw that news had come true. But even such a miraculous birth cannot substitute the day-to-day growth. Even Jesus Christ, despite all the miracles in his birth, also need to go through the process of growth.
18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” (Luke 2:18-24)
Whether you and I are firstborn or not, we all should be consecrated to the Lord. We must grow both in wisdom and stature. In our shepherding philosophy, growth is an essential element. So in the past, I talked a lot about wisdom and understanding. This is not an easy job, because I had to find the balance between understanding and faith: people tend to think that faith is not important when I am talking about the importance of understanding and vice versa.
Faith is to just believe in God's words, but people tend to believe blindly. A blind faith, without understanding, is not true faith. True faith must be built on the foundation of knowing God's will through all the wisdom and understanding. Why would one be deceived by the devil? Because he or she doesn't understand God's words. They have no knowledge of God.
Jesus Christ was the firstborn and was consecrated to the Lord, but this didn't give him excuses not to grow in understanding. The Christian faith places great emphasis on education. Moses started to educate every Israelite 3500 years ago because the Bible requires us to read the words of God. Therefore there are no illiterate people in the Israelites. If you don't like reading, I encourage you to start to enjoy reading.
The Israelites didn't manage their country blindly. Because of the teachings in the Bible, the Israelites wished that everyone could grow in wisdom and understanding. Jesus Christ has set an example for us: to grow in wisdom and stature as well as in favor with God and man.
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss[[d](https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke 2&version=NIV#fen-NIV-25003d)] your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. (Luke 2:25-33)
Joseph and Mary both knew that Jesus was born through conception by the Holy Spirit. They knew that this was something marvelous. After they met Simeon, they became more confirmed that this was indeed a miracle. Simeon was a prophet who had the revelation from the Holy Spirit. He knew that he would see the Messiah.
34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[[e](https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke 2&version=NIV#fen-NIV-25011e)] She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:34-38)
Mary remembered Simeon's words after she heard about it. The birth of Jesus was indeed a miracle. But despite all these marvelous things which happened to Jesus Christ, he didn't take any shortcut in the process of growing up. Jesus was never a lazy person when getting to know the words of God. He was fond of God's words!
There is a story associated with everyone's birth, not just Jesus Christ. Someone was born with a cheerful character, while someone else was born with a pessimistic character. My mom always told me that I was a quiet child even when I was a baby. At that time, my mother needed to hold meetings in our house. She just wrapped me in the quilts and put me beside her. During the whole meeting, I was so quiet that no one at the meeting knew that there was a baby with them in the same room! I have four siblings, each with a unique character. My mother was indeed blessed to have me as a son because I was never a troublemaker. My father and mother were very keen to attend my school's parent meetings because I did quite well in my study which made them very proud of me.
There is a Chinese saying: "The future of a child has already been set at the age of three." Why is that so? Because the character of a child has more or less been formed at the age of three. Characters determine one's future. You may think Jacob is very miserable because he could have been the firstborn but became the second child when he was born, just minutes or even seconds late. How could he become the firstborn? How could he obtain the birthright from his elder brother Esau? But our God did say that He is the God of Abraham and the God of Jacob. How could Jacob make it? Because he had a character that pleases God.
Our God is pleased by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph because they all have the same character. The presence of God was with them. Does Jesus Christ share the same character as these people? Yes definitely! If Jesus had ever encountered a question about the words of God, he would not stop exploring and pondering, until he totally figured it out. We have come to this world. We cannot change how we were born. But can we change something else? We cannot choose where we were born, but we can choose to have faith in God. We can choose to desire to become a vessel useful to God. If you have such a character, you can obtain the birthright even if you are not the firstborn!
It is the same with Joseph! Joseph had ten elder brothers, but God raised him and he had accomplished his destiny. The key point is, it is our obligation to grow our wisdom to please God, just like Jesus.
This is Luke's purpose of writing Chapter 2: to follow the example of Jesus Christ and Apostle Paul, as clearly written in Luke's teachings. The miracles and signs cannot substitute the gradual growth of a person.
The key of growth is our attitude. Someone may argue that we are not Jesus or Paul and we cannot do what they did. But with this attitude, you can never be like Jesus.
Our God had sent Jesus to be born as a human so that whoever relies on Him can experience miracles, so that we could have the same characters as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. The centerpiece of such characters is faith. If you have faith, you will believe that there is nothing impossible with God. Don't blame others for our problems. Our parents or our family are not the root cause of our problems. The root cause is with ourselves. We have to understand the words of God and have breakthroughs in our understanding from time to time.
The growth of Jesus Christ didn't take place in one day. He grew little by little in stature and in wisdom. When Jesus was 12 years old, His parents brought him to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. If you think a little bit more about it, you may wonder: why did Jesus need someone to take Him to Jerusalem? why couldn't he just fly to Jerusalem in a split second? In fact, Jesus was just like you and me. His growth was a gradual process, not a miracle.
After three days, Jesus' parents finally realized that Jesus was left behind in Jerusalem. They found Jesus in the Temple and Jesus was asking the teachers questions about the words of God. How did he live during the three days? Where did he sleep in the evening? Where did he find his meals? Jesus didn't care much about these things but spent the whole day in the Temple learning the words of God. What a child this is! If you are 12 years old, I would encourage you strongly to follow the example of Jesus.
48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them. (Luke 2:48-50)
If you are like Jesus Christ, staying in the temple of God like staying in our Father's house, you will surely grow both in stature and wisdom. But what do we have in our mind? If all we have is our business, our fortune or our property, instead of the words of God, how can we grow in wisdom? Our wisdom is measured not by what we own, but by how pleasing we are to God. We long to do whatever God commanded us to do.
Wisdom is important. You may be 30 years old or 40 years old, and all your life you have been busy with many things: degrees, jobs, money.... But what are you doing these for? If you are doing these blindly without knowing the purpose clearly, you can hardly grow in wisdom. Don't waste your time on these things. Spend your time on understanding the words of God.
Everyone who heard Jesus was amazed at his understanding and his answers. How could a 12-year-old have so much wisdom and understanding? But Jesus loved to understand the words of God. Starting from today, let's focus on growing our wisdom and stature, focus on pleasing God, day by day, little by little. You will surely find favor with God and man.
We got to know God's will through all the wisdom and understanding. We got to be clear about the purpose and goals of our decisions and priorities in life. Where could we go if we are unclear about our purpose and goals? We got to follow the example of Jesus. Jesus kept on growing in wisdom and stature, and so shall we.
Jesus became our redemption and opened up a new path of resurrection for us. So His power of resurrection has been poured on us. We will surely grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. A faith without understanding is blind. So let's devote ourselves in understanding the words of God and pursuing the wisdom from God!
May God bless you!