With the Christmas season receding and the advance into the New Year getting underway, I’ve been struck by the words, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, in favour with God and man…” They seem normal on the one hand, strange on the other, normal because he was a baby like every other baby, strange in that he was God in the flesh – Very God and Very Man.
God in flesh. Did you hear that? God in flesh. Really? Yes, absolutely! Anything less will not do. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Creator God in created flesh, eternal God for us in human form, timeless God with us in daily life, holy God in the midst of our brokenness, loving, redeeming, forgiving, reconciling, healing, renewing…. Yes, the Eternal, who is complete in every way, needing no one and nothing, who created and sustains this staggeringly vast and staggeringly beautiful cosmos, who knows the hairs on our heads and sees the sparrow fall to the ground, in real human flesh, not appearing so, but very so, Very God so.
Yet in his humanity Jesus was born in weakness, utterly dependent. Just like any other child he grew through infancy, through the twos, and on through teenage years, into adulthood. The gospel simply says “he grew in wisdom and stature, in favour with God and man…” Elsewhere it expands the thought and says that, “though he was a Son, he learned obedience through the things that he suffered” (Heb. 5:8). Seemingly strange words, God learning obedience? Jesus in his humanity could be and was tempted, tested, tried in every way as we are. Through testing, trial and temptation his untested, unproven, obedience was proven true time and time again. He never wavered. Right up to the cross. New trials, new tests, new suffering, brought continued obedience. Where the enemy sought to separate Jesus from the Father and make him act independently, Jesus stayed close, always asking and doing the will of the Father, never acting independently. So remaining faith full.
Where we had failed miserably, and ended up separated from God, without hope, condemned, Jesus succeeded. The enemy of our souls could get no foothold in His. The growth of Jesus, his learning, his obedience, was necessary for his humanity and our humanity, it was necessary to fulfill his destiny and provide us with eternal salvation. Growth and destiny are closely intertwined. Destiny can be lost or forfeited on the failure to grow. Praise God Jesus grew, was faith full in every sense of the word, and is therefore able to save completely all who come to him.
That makes for a Happy New Year!