Luke 2:52
The growth of Jesus Christ his subjection to his parents teach us some things respecting him, and they suggest some things for our own guidance.


1. The fullness of his condescension. We find this in his stooping so far as

(1) to make it becoming that he should "be subject to" his parents, and

(2) to make it possible that he should grow.

How the Infinite One could so bereave himself of his infinitude as to be able to increase in wisdom, we cannot understand. But we cannot understand infinitude at all, and we act wisely when we do not draw hard-and-fast deductions from it. We stand on far firmer ground when we take the statement of the historian in its natural sense, and open our mind to the fact that Jesus Christ, "our Lord and our God," did stoop so far that it was possible for him to increase in knowledge and in favor with God and with man. We do not question the reality of his growth in body; why should we doubt, or receive with any reserve, the affirmation that he grew also in mind?

2. The harmoniousness of his growth. He grew

(1) in bodily stature, and, of course, in all bodily strength and skill;

(2) in mental equipment - in technical knowledge, or in the "education" of his time, in appreciation of nature, in knowledge of mankind, in apprehension of Divine truth, in general intellectual enlargement;

(3) in spiritual beauty and nobility - "in favor with God and man." Not that he was at any time faulty or lacking in any excellency which it behoved him at that time to show, but that, as his faculties expanded and his opportunities of manifesting character were multiplied, he developed all that was admirable in the sight of man and of God. There is a far greater possibility of spiritual beauty and nobility in a young man with matured faculty and widening relationships than in the very little child, restricted, as he must be, in powers and in surroundings. So, as Jesus increased in years and grew in wisdom, there was in him an unfolding of moral and spiritual worth which attracted the eyes of men and which satisfied the Spirit of the Holy One himself.


1. Unlike our Lord, there is no element of condescension implied in our growth. We did not stoop to infancy; our course had then its commencement; and in the youngest child, with all its helplessness, but with all its latent capacities, there is a great gift from the hand of God. Whatever it means, in its humiliations and in its practical illimitableness, it is so much more than we could claim.

2. As with our Lord, our growth should be harmonious. All the three elements in our compound nature should undergo simultaneous and proportionate development. This is at first a parental question, but subsequently it is one that affects every one capable of growth.

(1) Training of the body; its nurture and culture, so that it shall be continually advancing in strength and skill and symmetry.

(2) Discipline of the mind; its instruction and exercise, so that it will be ever increasing in knowledge and enlarging in faculty.

(3) Culture of the character; its guidance and formation, so that there shall be

(a) attractiveness in the sight of man, and

(b) worthiness in the judgment of God.

It is, indeed, true that we may not give pleasure to men in proportion as we grow in moral and spiritual worth, for, as with our Master, our purity and devotion may be an offense unto them. It is also to be remembered that we may gain God's distinct approval long before we have reached the point of irreproachableness; for that which he delights to see in his children is an earnest effort after, and a constant growth towards, that which is true and pure and generous. - C.

And Jesus increased in wisdom
1. He grew, not in stature only, but in wisdom and favour with God and man. Christ, as Divine, must have had all knowledge and power from the first. But subjecting Himself to the laws of human development, He thereby consented to an unfolding which, in childhood should exhibit a perfect Child, in youth a perfect Youth, in manhood a perfect Man. It was the unfolding of a perfect bud into a perfect flower. At each advancing step He was only evincing larger measures of that wisdom and moral excellence which, in possibility and germ, were in Him from the first.

2. He was content with an obscure and humble home. In these days there is everywhere a great crowding into cities and populous towns. These are thought to have peculiar advantages for the training and education of children. But have not the solid men, for whose living in it the world has most reason to be grateful, oftenest come from hillsides and homes like that of Nazareth? It is in obscure places that youth escapes the wasting strifes of ambition, the unproductive chase after vanities; that he learns not only "to scorn delights and love laborious days," but to think his own thoughts and to stand alone. The wise youth is content just where it has pleased God to place him. If the station is lowly and the lot obscure, he does not chafe and repine; he rather gives thanks.

3. He was a winning example of filial piety and obedience. For thirty years He was contentedly subject to parental guidance and authority. It is the discipline of a well-ordered home which makes good citizens. It is a blessing, above all others, to grow up in a house where the gospel rule prevails. There it is that foundations are laid for every moral virtue. There is the best safeguard of purity. It is there that one learns the sweetness of lowly ambitions and the surpassing wealth of pure affection.

4. It is time to speak of His self-subjection to the discipline of helpful industry. He was called "the carpenter's son." He was Himself the carpenter. , who lived as near to Him as we do to George Washington, speaks of Him as "a worker in wood," and says that He "made ploughs and yokes and other implements relating to husbandry." After Joseph's death, the care of His mother would devolve upon Him. It is therefore proper to think of Him as early sharing the lighter labours of His home. His little feet bear Him on many a helpful errand for His mother. Pitcher in hand, He runs for water to the well. To kindle the fire He gathers and brings the wood. Soon, with growing limbs, He begins to wield the hammer, the axe, and the saw in the shop; to invent and shape toys for Himself and useful things for the house. In the process of time, He settles into a more patient industry. In the little village on the hillside of Nazareth, He is "the carpenter." And such a shop as that in which He wrought, must have been I Do you think He ever made reckless promises, and failed to keep them? Do you think He ever did poor work, and charged the price of good? That He ever concealed a flaw, or tried to get the better of another in trade — can you believe that?

5. He was not in undue haste to have done with the work of preparation and to enter upon His public ministry. In such backing lies the strength of all great workers. Have we not often seen men of ripened age, men of whom the world never so much as heard the name, suddenly burst upon the stage of action, assume an easy leadership, and carry off the best prizes of emolument and honour? They are equal to the places they attempt to fill. They endure. Such men have taken time for preparation. They have both knowledge and self-knowledge. They have that self-control which comes of quiet introvision. They have root; and a root grows: it is not made; only to an extent can it be forced.

6. The childhood and youth of Jesus were marked by delight in the truths and ordinances of religion. At twelve years old, when taken to Jerusalem, His feet swiftly bare Aim to the Temple. Let no parent, or teacher, or worker in the Lord's vineyard look upon a child as too young to be interested in holy things. Little feet linger where earnest words are spoken about (God and duty to Him. Little minds are full of wonder concerning the very deep things of the world unseen. Little hearts would gladly know and choose the way of grateful and loving service. Childhood's years may be given to God. And oh, what glory and safety and blessedness it is to have begun thus early.

7. He made His most earthly work a service unto His Father. Back at Nazareth He was all the time doing His Father's business, just as truly as when sitting among the doctors in the Temple. There is a time to pray, and there is also a time to read, and a time to work. Give to each its own time. And if, in each, your purpose is equally to do the will of God, and bring honour to Him, He is just as well pleased with the one as with the other. Go where God bids you go, abide where He would have you abide, and do each hour the work He appoints for that hour; do all in faith and love, and for His glory; for the rest you need have no fears. Thus the lowly can win as sweet a smile and as large a reward as those who fill the highest places. He is with us in life's valleys as truly as on the mountain-tops. The little child can come as close to His heart as the great king. It is not a great name, or a giant intellect, or conspicuous service, which God wants. It is only a trusting and obedient heart. Who cannot, who would not, give that?

(H. M. Grout.)

Religion is a generous and noble thing, in regard to its progress; it is perpetually carrying on that mind, in which it is once seated, towards perfection. Though the first appearance of it upon the souls of good men may be, but as the wings of the morning, spreading themselves upon the mountains, yet it is still rising higher and higher upon them, chasing away all the filthy mists and vapours of sin and wickedness before it, till it arrives to its meridian altitude. There is the strength and force of the Divinity in it; and though, when it first enters into the minds of men, it may seem to be "sown in weakness," yet it will raise itself "in power." As Christ was in His bodily appearance, He was still increasing in wisdom, and stature, and favour with God and man, until He was perfected in glory; so is He also in His spiritual appearance in the souls of men: and accordingly the New Testament does more than once distinguish of Christ, in His several ages and degrees of growth in the souls of all true Christians. Good men are always walking on from strength to strength, till at last they see God in Zion. Religion, though it hath its infancy, yet it hath no old age: while it is in its minority, it is always in motu; but, when it comes to its maturity, it will always be in quiete; it is then "always the same, and its years fail not"; but it shall endure for ever.

(John Smith.)

An orderly development; none of your monstrous athletes; none of your mere intellectual book-worms; none of your emaciated, hysterical saints and ascetics; none of your hermits or fanatical antisocial visionaries. He grew in body, in mind, in soul, and heart; stature, wisdom, favour — human and Divine. Is not that parable of childhood writ clear! Is not the message to you and to your children? Follow the lines, not of your crushed, but of your restrained, controlled, and regenerate nature. Learn, like Him, by the things that you suffer, undergo, have to put up with. Learn, before you teach; obey, before you command; going in and out amongst men, toil hand and heart about the Father's business, and with an ear ever attuned to the voices in the upper air, until we all come in the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

(H. R. Haweis, M. A.)

The increase of Jesus in wisdom during this period was —

1. Real. Jesus had to learn from the words of others what as yet He knew not; and that was entirely unknown to Him as a child, which He had a glimpse of as a boy, conjectured as a youth, and first clearly perceived as a man.

2. Unchecked. In attributing to the Lord Jesus the relative imperfection of childhood, we must carefully avoid imputing to Him the failings of childhood. His life showed no trace of childish faults, to be hereafter conquered. The words of John (Matthew 3:14) show, on the contrary, what impression was made by His moral purity when thirty years of age, and the voice from heaven (Matthew 3:17) sets the seal of the Divine approval on the now completed development of the Son of Man, a seal which the Holy One of Israel would only have offered to absolute perfection.

3. It was effected by means —

(1)Careful home-training.

(2)The natural beauties of the neighbourhood of Nazareth.

(3)The Scriptures.

(4)The annual journeys to Jerusalem.

(5)Prayerful communion with His heavenly Father.

4. Normal, and so an example of what our development should be in fellowship with Him.

(J. J. Van Oosterzee, D. D.)

Our Lord's body grew in stature, so that, when He reached manhood, He had attained fair and comely proportions. And while the body grew, His human mind grew also; His human intelligence unfolded itself gradually into full blossom, in the same manner as the mind and intelligence of other children, only, doubtless, in a much greater degree. Perhaps you cannot understand how this could be. To grow in wisdom must imply that the person who grows is, at a more advanced age, wiser than when He was younger; knows something, understands something, which he did not know, and understand before. But how could this be in His ease? you may reasonably ask. Was He not God, you may say, even when He was quite a young child? And how can God be ignorant of anything, or fail to understand anything? Now it is true, doubtless — absolutely true — that our Lord, even while he was a child, was the everlasting God. But it is true also that He was "God manifest in the flesh," God sinking Himself down to the low level of human nature. He became really and truly for our sakes an infant, a child, a youth, a man. He did not merely seem to be human, but He actually was human. Now in order that He might be really and truly a man, He consented, in His wonderful condescension, not to call into exercise those powers which He had as God. You can quite understand a person having strength, but not using it. A man might have the strength of a giant, who might choose to exert Himself very little, might never walk above a few yards, might not employ his hands in any harder work than turning over the leaves of a book or reeling off a skein of silk. And in like manner a man may have a perfectly strong and good eyesight, but he need not use it farther than he pleases. He may shut his eyes altogether, in which case he will see nothing. He may only half open them, in which ease he will see but dimly and confusedly; or he may go and live in a dungeon, where only a few straggling rays of light pierce the gloom; and then, however good his eyesight may be, he will for the first few seconds be able to see nothing; but when the eye has adjusted itself to the circumstances in which it is placed, he will begin to make out the forms of things around him, but will not see their colours, or have any power at all of examining them closely. This may help you to understand how our Lord, while He had in ]dis Divine nature all power and all knowledge, yet, when He made His appearance among us as man, was ignorant of certain things, and unable to do certain things. In coming into the world, He, by His own free will and consent, limited Himself to do the things which a man could do, and to know the things which a man could know. He came into our poor, narrow, dark nature, just as a free man might come out of the light of day into a narrow, dark, prison-dungeon, and there consent to be shut up. Such an one might have the power of walking miles, but in the dungeon he can only walk a few paces; he might have a very keen eyesight, but in the dungeon he cannot even see to read. Christ took a nature which, till He took it, was not His own, and accommodated Himself to the feebleness and ignorance of that nature — limited Himself, if I may use the expression, to the walls of it.

(Dean Goulburn.)

We may compare our Lord's period of growth, during which He was prepared for His work, to the gradual execution of some great piece of sculpture, a bust or a statue. Let us say that the marble chosen for the work is a piece without flaw, spotless white, without a single vein running through it. Thus our Lord's human nature, unlike that which all of us inherit, was perfectly free from all tendency to evil; holy, harmless, undefiled at His very birth. But a white block of marble, though white when it is drawn from the quarry, can be made a more perfectly beautiful thing by being chiselled into an exquisite form. And a human nature, which was originally sinless, may be made a more perfectly beautiful thing by being disciplined through grace, and through the experience of suffering, into the perfect likeness of God. And you can quite understand how a sculptor, who is daily at work upon a statue, has an increasing satisfaction in it, as the work becomes more and more perfect, views it with greater pleasure and complacency to-day, when it has received so many flourishing touches, than he did some months ago, when it was a mere resemblance of the human form in outline. The work increases in favour with him daily; and when it is finished, he is then perfectly satisfied. Thus it was that Jesus, as a man, "increased in favour with God."

(Dean Goulburn.)

It is not, alas, according to this model, that the generality of Christians form their children. We behold them principally intent on procuring for them worldly accomplishments, while they totally neglect to make them acquainted with the great duties of Christianity.

1. The human mind cannot be too early impressed with religious principles. The prudent will, indeed, be careful not to make that a burden which should be a pleasure; they will be content to unfold the gospel principles by degrees, as the youthful mind is able to receive them.

2. Nature only requires a little gentle assistance to perfect all her productions. You have seen a tender plant springing upon a fertile soil, what though tall and straight, and promising to become the pride of the forest, since one unlucky stroke may have crushed its aspiring head, and forced it from its natural direction, from that moment it bended and grew downwards to the earth, instead of towering to the skies. Thus, the human mind while young and pliable, is in perpetual danger of growing luxuriant by too much indulgence, or losing all its strength by the unnatural restraint of too much severity, to be suppressed by misfortune, checked by disappointment, or chilled by penury. How liable is it to deviate from the straight line of rectitude and honour, by the fascination of example, and the influence of imitation; to folly, vice, and ruin. It is the pleasing but important task of parents and guardians, to direct and defend this young and delicate production; leading it from lower degrees of perfection to higher, from the nursery to the field of action, till it is adorned with the fairest honours, enriched with the most precious fruit, and ripe for transplanting to the paradise of God, where it shall bloom afresh under the immediate sunshine of heaven, and flourish for ever in immortal beauty and perfection.

3. The prejudices received in youth are sometimes so violent and inveterate, that even maturity of years, the admonition of friends, the principles of hope, fear, honour, and religion, are unable too often to restrain them. Nay, the best of all teachers, experience, frequently attempts, but in vain, to cure the maladies of a wrong education. It is nonsense to expect a harvest, where the seed. time has been lost, and you must be disappointed, who wish to reap where you have not sown.

4. The least indulgence of the bad inclinations of children, sometimes produces the most fatal effects in society. Witness David's indulgence of Amnon — it produced incest; of Absalom — it produced assassination and a civil war; of Adonijah — it produced a usurpation of the throne and crown. Observe, again, how God punished Eli, who neglected to correct duly the crimes of his children. Can you, O parents, hear these awful truths, and not shudder at the idea of indulging the least vicious propensity in your children? But let me turn from those gloomy images, to hold up to your view the picture of a parent's care, rewarded in a wise and virtuous offspring. These will be your pride and glory in the day of your health and strength; but in the gloomy and melancholy season of sickness and old age, they will be the light of your eyes, and the cordial of your fainting spirits; and as once with tender care you watched their tender infancy, so shall they with pious duty support your failing strength, soften the pangs of a dying hour, close your eyes in peace, and eventually follow you to that world where love and bliss immortal reign.

(B. Murphy.)

Jesus won the favour of man by seeking the favour of God. It is not so important that man should be pleased with us as that God should. But man's favour is more likely to be won through seeking God's favour than in any other way. If we are always asking how those about us will look at us; if we give large weight in our thoughts to the opinion of our fellows; if we endeavour to so shape our course as to win popular approval, we are by no means sure to have what we strive for; we may fall far short of the coveted favour of man; and, moreover, may utterly lack God's approval, whether man likes or dislikes us. But if we are always asking how God will look at our course; if we give large weight in our thoughts to His opinion and His commandments; if we seek to shape our course to win His approval, we are sure to get what we most long for; and we are surer of having also the favour of man than we could be through any other course. If God is our friend, He can secure to us man's approval. The best of human friends cannot win for us God's favour.

(H. C. Trumbull.)

See the daisy. It opens its petals when the light dawns, and closes them at sunset. It is in the right place to absorb out of earth and atmosphere the nutritive forces it needs, and it grows. Go into a garden and ask what all these various plants are doing. They toil not neither do they spin; they have no visible machinery and yet they are all capturing sunbeams and converting them into fragrances, essences, flowers and fruits for the welfare of the world. Does your boy trouble about growth as he eats and drinks and plays? No! He takes no thought for the morrow's growth. Flowers and children, rightly placed, grow. Get a piston and place it where the steam is and it will go. Put your water-wheel in the stream, and it turns. Man takes advantage of the energies close to hand and multiplies his forces a million-fold. So long as we are in the wrong place we cannot grow. The secret of the growth of Jesus is that He starts in the right place and keeps in it to the very end; He lives in and for God; is bathed with the warm light, and refreshed by the pure breath and nourished by the sweet fellowship with, and work for, the Father.

(J. Clifford, D. D.)

J. Clifford, D. D. .
It is perplexing to some of us that there should be eighteen years of unbroken silence in such a life as Christ's. We have asked what was Jesus at 17, 20, and at 25? and though no audible voice responds to us, yet the silence, read in the light of the wonderful work accomplished in His brief ministry, is itself a sign of the depth, continuity, and fulness of the moral growth. All growth is silent. When nature is baptized in the fulness of spring forces, you hear not a rustle. The whole movement takes place secretly and silently, and the world comes up anew without the sound of trumpet or the message of herald: God builds His temples without the sound of hammer. His great moral structures go up from day to day without noise, His kingdoms come without observation, notwithstanding the moment of their arrival may be one of tempest and storm. Tyndall says" "All great things come slowly to birth. Copernicus pondered his great work for thirty-three years; Newton, for nearly twenty years, kept the idea of gravitation before His mind; for twenty years also, he dwelt upon his discovery of fluxions; Darwin, for twenty-two years pondered on the problem of the origin of species, and doubtless he would have continued to do so had he not found Wallace upon his track." So Jesus stayed in His place, did His carpentry, was obedient to His parents, accepted the restraints of His position, silently devoured the many chagrins of His lot, met His cares with a transcendent disdain, drank in the sunlight of His Father's face, and possessed His soul in perfect patience, though urged by deep sympathy and throbbing desire to save men. No boasting, no hurry, no impatience, but a quiet maturing of power, and then so clad was He in strength that He never lost an opportunity through delay or marred a bit of His work by haste. When Perseus told Pallas Athene that he was ready to go forth, young as he was, against the fabled monster Medusa the Gorgon, the strange lady smiled and said, "Not yet; you are too young, and too unskilled: for this is Medusa the Gorgon, the mother of a monstrous brood. Return to your home and do the work which awaits you there. You must play the man in that before I can think you worthy to go in search of the Gorgon." It is hurry that enfeebles us.

(J. Clifford, D. D. .)

God in Christ has appeared among men to raise up again fallen humanity. In order to do this, He laid hold upon it, in the cradle, and left it only at the tomb; passing through all the stages of its growth, traversing in succession all the ages of life, sanctifying our nature at all periods of our existence, and causing us to see in His person, from the moment when He came into the world till that of His exaltation in glory, the perfect type of innocence and holiness. It is thus that He became in turn an infant, youth, man; an infant, obedient and submissive; a young man without reproach and keeping Himself pure from all defilement of the flesh and of the world: a full-grown man showing us in His character and in His conduct the model of absolute perfection. He stopped there; for He by whom and for whom are all things ought: not to fail; it was necessary that He should offer Himself a sacrifice in all the vigour of age and in all the fulness of life: it was not becoming that He should present to us the picture of decrepitude and old age. But as there has been a birth of the Son of God in the Man Jesus, a growth of the God-man in the person of the Redeemer, so there has been, there is, and there will be, to the end of time, a birth and growth of Christ in all the souls belonging to Him. Christ is truly born. He grows up, He developes Himself in His people. There is in turn, in their case, the infant, the youth, and the grown-up man, and He completes in them the work of His grace till they come to the height of His perfect stature.

(J. H. Grandpierre, D. D.)

That Jesus was really a man. Here it may be observed,

I. That He was really man BECAUSE HE HAD A HUMAN BODY. It was formed and fashioned in His mother's womb by the great Parent of all flesh. So it was, says the inspired writer, that while His mother was at Bethlehem, "the days were accomplished that she should be delivered."

II. He was really man BECAUSE HE HAD A HUMAN SOUL AS WELL AS A HUMAN BODY. This is necessarily implied in what is said of Him in the text. He "increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." Here both His wisdom and piety are asserted; and we know that these are properties of the soul, and not of the body.

III. That Christ was properly a human person will appear, if we consider THE STATE AND CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH HE WAS PLACED WHILE HE LIVED IN THIS WORLD. For —

1. He was fixed in a state of dependence.

2. He was placed under law, which implies that He was a human moral agent, and accountable to God like other men. We are told that "when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law."

3. That Christ was placed, like all other men, in a state of probation from His birth to His death.I now proceed to improve the subject.

1. If Christ was really man, then the Arian notion of His pre-existence before He came into the world is entirely unscriptural and absurd. The Arians suppose that Christ was the first and noblest of created beings, and existed before the foundation of the world. For it is absurd to suppose that Christ had both a human soul and a super-angelic soul, and that both these were personally united with the Second Person in the Trinity, and so constituted Him a Divine Person. The true scriptural doctrine of Christ's divinity is founded upon the true scriptural doctrine of Christ's having a human body and a human soul, which was personally united with the second person in the Godhead. It is necessary, therefore, to believe the real humanity, in order to believe the real divinity of Christ. It has been found by observation and experience, that the denial of Christ's humanity directly leads to the denial of His divinity.

2. If Christ had a human body and a human soul, then we cannot account for the early depravity of children through the mere influence of bad examples, or bodily instincts and appetites. He was an infant, but He did not sin in infancy. He had a frail, mortal body, but it did not corrupt His heart. He lived in a wicked world, where He saw many bad examples, but they did not lead Him to follow them. He was a free moral agent, but He never chose to sin.

3. If Christ was really a man, then there is no natural impossibility of men's becoming perfectly holy in this life.

4. If Christ was really man, then God is able to keep men from sinning consistently with their moral agency.

5. If Christ was really man, then there is no absurdity in the doctrine of the final perseverance of saints.

6. If Christ was really man, then there is no reason to suppose that men possess a self-deter. mining power, or a power to act independently of the Divine influence and control.

7. If Christ was really man, then His conduct is a proper example for all men to follow.

8. If Christ was really man, then He is well qualified to perform all the remaining parts for His mediatorial office. In particular, to perform the part of an intercessor.

9. If Christ be really a man, then they will be unspeakably happy, who shall be admitted into His visible presence, and dwell with Him for ever.

(N. Emmons, D. D.).

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