This Scripture passage inreads, in part, as follows: “And the child grew, and waxed strong, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him. . . .” and again: “And when they saw him, they were astonished; and his mother said unto him, Child, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? Knew ye not that I must be in the things of my Father? And they understood not the saying that He spake unto them . . . .” And then finally: “And Jesus advanced in wisdom and stature, and in grace (favor) with God and man.”
We ask the attentive reader to read the entire text from his Bible. To quote the entire passage would require too much space. Hence, this request.
We would first of all call attention to the fact, that Luke, the Evangelist, brings two great gospel truths to the foreground, in a very striking way, in this chapter under consideration.
The first great gospel-truth is, that the Son of God came from a woman. We read in: “And she brought forth her firstborn son; and she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” It is the truth that Paul utters in , where we read: “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman.” That is the first glorious fact described, nay, recorded to us in this gospel account of Luke.
The second great gospel truth pointed out in this chapter of Luke is, that the Son of God as made of a woman, became under law. On the eighth day He was circumcised according to the law (even though circumcision is not of Moses but of the fathers.) after His mother had been purified from the uncleanness of her blood. And on the fortieth day He was presented unto the Lord according to the Levitical ordinances. He was, indeed, redeemed from the temple worship of the earthly sanctuary, that He might be the High priest that becomes us, holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens in the heavenly sanctuary. That is the second glorious truth of the Gospel. The Son of God is born from a woman, but He is made under law. And the reason for this? It is: that we might, by His perfect obedience, be redeemed from under law and that we might receive the adoption unto children and walk in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
Now this second Gospel truth is, somewhat, the forgotten treasure as far as this Gospel account of Luke is concerned. Often we hear sermons on the first part of this chapter. Luke 2 is the classic chapter to tell us about the birth of Christ. That is true even in the most modernistic church. But the latter part of this chapter is either not understood, or is intentionally forgotten. It is, notwithstanding, very important; it contains the glorious gospel of the Cross of Calvary as Jesus came under law, to become the righteousness of God to all who believe. Let us not forget this. Better still: let us try to see this with believing hearts.
Here we have the pearls of great price lying at the very surface of the text.
The pearls? Yes, the pearls of the wondrous work of Christ under law as Mediator. For, let it be clearly understood, Jesus does not begin to be our Mediator at the age of thirty years, but He is our Mediator also at the age of eight days and at the age of forty days. Hear the aged Simeon cry in joyful strains that his eyes have now seen the Lord’s Christ! Now this aged saint can depart in peace!
These are some of the presuppositions that we must keep clearly before our mind when we study the incident recorded in the passage that we have written at the head of this little essay.
For also in this passage in which we deal with the “self-disclosure” of the Son of God in the flesh in His mediatorial work, we see the Son of God, who was born from a woman, under law. It is under law that He must be busy in the things of His Father!
What we read concerning Jesus, the child, in these passages is no insignificant detail, no trite and commonplace account that we may read rather hurriedly and carelessly. This is no detail in the life of Jesus. It is the account of the inspired Evangelist (the preacher of glad-tidings in accurate account) wherein he lifts the veil upon the Son of God as He grows into the man Jesus, the perfect Son of Mary under law.
This account tells us the perfect obedience of Jesus under law—as child of Mary and Joseph and as the Son of God. We must read this passage in the light of the glorious truth of. We must see in this passage the glory, the wisdom, the strength of God, as revealed in the Cross, in the Crucified (the to be crucified Savior of His people, saving us completely from all our sins) Savior!
The preacher who preaches on this passage may not pull this passage out of the divine design of “born from a woman and made under law.” He must leave it just where it is placed. And when he says “Amen” to his own sermon, and when the congregation hears this sermon and also says “Amen” in their hearts, then this must be due to the fact that nothing else was preached than Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Let us attempt to see this.
We shall now, of course, bear in mind, that, in this entire passage, the Holy Spirit shows us the Obedient Christ, the Savior of His people.
To show that this is very really the truth we would like to point out, first of all, that in the text Jesus is very clearly portrayed to us in His obedience. We have but to notice the significant fact of His obedience to His parents Joseph and Mary in verse 51, where we read: “And He went down with them and came to Nazareth; and He was subject unto them,” to see that this passage presents to us the obedient Jesus. Then too, it is a fact that Jesus evidently was not disobedient in abiding in Jerusalem, but was clearly obedient to His heavenly Father in abiding in the temple. Hence, this passage clearly shows no disobedient Jesus.
Concerning this obedience the text shows us that this was a full-orbed obedience. To demonstrate what we understand by “full-orbed” we would call attention to the fact that this obedience of Jesus was the obedience of man. It was not the obedience as this comes to manifestation in the angelic hosts. It is the obedience as required of man. In Jesus’ case the obedience as required of a child of the Covenant in the Covenant home. Jesus stood in all of our human relationships under law. He came also under the law of the children in their relationship to their Covenant parents.
This means that Jesus stood under the first commandment with the promise, “Honor thy father and thy mother, that it may be well with thee and that thou mayest live long on the earth”. Under this law Jesus was to be obedient exactly as this obedience is required of all of us. And He is to obey His parents unless such subjection would make it impossible to be obedient to God.
Shall Jesus be obedient with a full-orbed obedience, then He must be obedient to His parents and therein be obedient to God. He must thus stand in the first commandment with a promise. That is just. The Son of God in our flesh is obedient to His parents and thus to God. Consider this to be the full-orbed obedience.
This obedience was perfect. It was an obedience not as a formal adherence to the law. It was perfect love for God from Jesus’ human heart, mind, soul and strength! The Son of God is in human subjection to the will of God from perfect love! He is this not merely on Calvary, but already at the age of twelve. And He is here already conscious that He is the Savior of the world. Such seems to be the import of the saying: Knew ye not that I must be busy in the things of my Father? Here is, first of all, we should notice, that Jesus contrasts His Father with His parents as Mary says: “Thy father and I sought. . . .” Then, too, the form of the question as asked by Jesus is such that this question of Jesus expects an answer in the affirmative. It is as we would say: “You knew, did you not, that I would be busy in the things of my Father? Of course, Mary knew this. Had she not often instructed this child Jesus, according to the special revelation and announcements brought to her by angelic and human messengers, to “the utmost of her ability”? Had she not told Jesus of the visit of Gabriel telling of His birth, of her visit in the hill country in Judea at the home of Zachariah and Elizabeth where she had prophesied, of the visit of the angel to Joseph, of the message of the shepherds in that wondrous night of His birth, of the strange language of Simeon in the temple, not to forget the aged Anna. And then later the equally wondrous visit of the Magi in Jerusalem and the appearance of the Star. . . . Ah, to be sure, Mary should have known that “this child that should be set for a fall and rising again of many in Israel and a sign that should be contradicted” was even now simply walking in the way of her instruction. Yes, Jesus is fully conscious of being obedient in the full-orbed sense of the term.
Here in this Child we have the perfectly wise child, the obedient child who binds the Words of God about His neck!
Here is the fulfillment of the beautiful admonition of Proverbs 8. Jesus perfectly walked according to the injunction: “My son forget not my law; but let thy heart keep my commandments. For length of days, and years of life, and peace will they add to thee. Let not kindness and truth forsake thee: Rind them about thy neck; Write them upon the tablet of thine heart. So shall thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and men…. Be not wise in thine own eyes, Fear Jehovah and depart from evil.”.
Nay, here in the temple we have the perfectly obedient Son.
And He returned with His parents to Nazareth and was constantly and progressively subject unto them.
It is the obedience rooted in the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom!
He went along with His parents and the greatness of this Son is His obedience to His parents. He was like unto us in all things sin excepted!
Progressively he is obedient. He grows in wisdom. Nay, not that He ever had to unlearn disobedience. That He did not need to. Rut He surely had to learn obedience each day. Each day was a school for Him. He walked through every corner of our life and experience.
And He did this to save all His brethren. He came to save us from our sins, He hacked a new and living way through all the foolishness and disobedience of men. And in His obedience, in which He brought the Sacrifice, we too may and can be obedient. He is the Author of our eternal salvation. Walking this way of obedience He brings us all the way to the perfect Father-house above, as the First-born among many brethren.