Luke 2:39-40 (ESV)
39 And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.
In these two simple verses, Luke moves the reader away from Jesus as a baby and briefly focuses on Jesus in his teenage years. Joseph and Mary returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. Luke says that during this time Jesus grew and became strong. The Greek word for “grew” basically means “to increase in size.” So the growth Luke speaks of refers to Jesus growing from a baby into a young man. The word for “became strong” usually refers to spiritual strength. Luke adds that Jesus was “filled with wisdom.” This phrase draws attention to the fact that Jesus grew in spiritual wisdom or the wisdom of the Father. It is easy to forget that Jesus had to grow both physically and spiritually. Although he was fully God, he voluntarily chose to limit himself and live as a genuine human. He didn’t stop being God for one single moment, but throughout the majority of his day-to-day life, he embraced his full humanity by choosing not to exercise his divine right, unless it was the will of the Father and for the good of God for him to do so. Jesus grew spiritually by reading and studying the Scripture and relying on the Holy Spirit to impart to him wisdom and understanding of the depths of God’s word.
As the one and only Son of God, Jesus was the object of God’s special favor. And yet, he voluntarily limited himself and was “found in human form” (Philippians 2:8). He had to grow the same way we grow, both physically and spiritually. It’s amazing to think that we actually have the same Scripture and the same Holy Spirit available to us as Christians that Jesus had. He totally depended on God’s Spirit and God’s word to live in complete obedience to the Father. And he did it perfectly! Though we can never live flawlessly the way Jesus did, we can still make use of the resources he accessed, and we too can become spiritually strong, increasing in the wisdom of the Lord. Let’s choose to follow Jesus’ example today by determining to learn God’s word and rely on the Spirit for insight. May we be able to look back at this time right now in a year, five years, even ten years from now and see how we have moved upward on our own spiritual growth charts.