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Feast of the Holy Family-2019: Growing up Jesus


In the gospel reading today we hear these words: “And after they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their city Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong, full of wisdom; and the grace of God was in him.”

Immediately after Jesus had been presented in the temple as a little baby, and Simeon and Anna had seen him. We read here “and after Joseph and Mary had performed all things according to the law of the Lord. they returned into Galilee, to their city Nazareth.”

And then we read “the child”, that is the child Jesus, “continued to grow and wax strong.” As a little baby, he began to grow and become stronger and then it says that he was “full of wisdom and the grace of God was in him.” It's an interesting fact to note that the first two people in the New Testament, upon whom it says the grace of God was in them was Mary and then Jesus. In Luke 1:28, the Douay Rheims version of scripture, we read, “The angel being come in, said unto Mary: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” And then we read here in Luke 2 that “the grace of God was in Jesus.”

Now, many people understand grace as the unmerited favor of God. If that were, the definition of grace, how would it fit in in this verse? How could the unmerited favor of God be in Jesus? That certainly can't be true. Because he certainly merited the father's favor. And that is the clearest proof that grace is not the unmerited favor of God. That is a human definition and completely unscriptural.

Grace is God's help offered to us according to our present need, whatever it is.

In our case, our first need, is forgiveness of sins. And so we read in Ephesians 1:7 that we have “remission, that is forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” But once our sins are forgiven, we also need help to overcome sin. And for that we read in Hebrews 4:16 that we can come “with confidence to the throne of grace: that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid”

That phrase, “seasonable aid”, means a time of need. And that time of need is when we are tempted and under pressure. We read in Hebrews 4:15 that Jesus was “tempted in all things like as we are, without sin.” And if he was tempted like us, and he was in all things. made like unto [us] his brethren, as we read in Hebrews 2:17, then it would have been impossible for him to overcome temptation apart from that grace that the Father gave him. For he did not overcome temptation here on earth with that inherent power that he had as the Son of God. But he lived here as the son of man, and he needed help from his father in order to live in purity. And this is why it says here in Luke 2:40 that the grace of God was in him. And this is why he did not sin. If grace is in a person, we can put it another way, that that person is under grace.

And we read in Romans 6:14 that when a person is under grace, sin shall not have dominion over you. As a child, the grace of God was in Jesus. He was under grace and therefore as Roman 6:14 says, sin could not have dominion over him and he lived under grace. We read in I Peter 5:5 that to the humble God giveth grace. And so we know that Jesus must have remained in humility right through his life for that grace to be upon him all the time. And this is why at the end of his life there was no sin found in him at all. It wasn't because of his inherent ability as the Son of God, but as a man he had conquered and that's why he says to us, follow me. And that's how he increased in wisdom. As it says in Luke 2:40 the two are connected. When the grace of God is upon us, we will increase in wisdom. When the grace of God is not upon us, then we do not grow in wisdom.

Further, we read in verse 41: That his parents went every year to Jerusalem, at the solemn day of the Pasch or Passover, and that was, regular feature of Jewish life. And when he was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast, And having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not. And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance. And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions.

And there we find Jesus where his interests were. His interest even at the age of 12 was not primarily to play games and just be occupied with that. I'm sure he did that at his age as normal children do, but he had a sense of priorities even at the age of 12. and that is wonderful when we realize that he grew up just like us, with the same possibilities that any of us have. We can encourage our children and grandchildren to look at Jesus as there example, even at that young age to follow him in having a right order of priority. And what was that priority? That God's word is primary. We read here, "and all who heard him", that is all who heard Jesus in the temple "were astonished at his wisdom and his answers." They couldn't understand how a 12 year old boy could know so much about God's word and who could ask such penetrating questions.

And when Joseph and Mary saw Jesus, they were astonished and his mother said to him, "son, why have you treated us this way? Behold your father and I have been anxiously looking for you. And he said to them, why is it that you were looking for me? Did you not know that I had to be in my father's house?" There we see the sense of priorities that Jesus had, that his father's affairs or the things of his father were primary to him, even at that age.

Further, we read in verse 41 and his parents used to go to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover and that was, a regular feature of Jewish life. Being faithful to the feast, and to God. We to must be faithful to God and to His Church.

As Parents and grandparents we must be a testimony to our children and grandchildren of faithfulness.

And when he was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast, And having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not. And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance. And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions.

And there we find Jesus where his interests were. His interest even at the age of 12 was not primarily to play games and just be occupied with that. I'm sure he did that at his age as normal children do, but he had a sense of priorities even at the age of 12. And that is wonderful when we realize that he grew up just like us, with the same possibilities that any of us have, that we can encourage our children to look at Jesus as there example, even at that young age to follow him in having a right order of priority. And what was that priority? It was that God's word is primary. We read here, "And all that heard him", that is all who heard Jesus in the temple "were astonished at his wisdom and his answers." They couldn't understand how a 12 year old boy could know so much about God's word and who could ask such penetrating questions.

And when Joseph and Mary saw Jesus, they were astonished and his mother said to him, "And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father's business?" Here we see the sense of priorities that Jesus had, that his heavenly father's affairs or the things of his heavenly father were primary to him. even at that age. He knew who his heavenly father was at that age, and that was a priority. Everything else was secondary. How difficult it is for us to find, even among grownup believers, those who have a sense or the things of God is number one priority in their lives so that they order their whole life according to how it affects the Kingdom of God. Jesus said himself, seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. He had done that for 30 years before he said that to others and here we see an example of that and that should be a challenge to all of us. There is a difference. between a child and a son, a child doesn't have any sense of responsibility. A son has a sense of responsibility. And it is when there is a sense of responsibility that God can commit to us responsibility in his Church and in his Kingdom.

And we read even about Joseph and Mary, that they did not understand the statement which he had made to them. They couldn't understand, but we read further And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart.

That is an amazing statement that he continued in subjection to them. He who had such an understanding of scripture that even the doctors in the temple were amazed when he went back to Nazareth. He did not boast about his knowledge or think that his earthly parents should submit to him. No. He obeyed that scripture which he knew to say honor your father and mother. God had appointed Joseph and Mary to be his parents and he submitted to them.

Sin came through rebellion and salvation came through submission humbling ourselves before others as Jesus did to his parents.

And thus, we read further in verse 52 Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men. We increase in wisdom and grave with God, when we understand submission to authority. To submit to an authority that God has placed over us is the first step of following Jesus.

Many people think of Jesus' Public Ministry and they think of what he did in those last three and a half years and think of following him there. Well, that's good, but we got to begin with where Jesus began. And that is in submission to any authority that God has placed over us. If you have a child living at home and even a grown up child living at home, they have got to first learn to submit and honor their parents in anything that they tell them to do, unless it's contrary to God's word. And likewise wives to husbands and in offices and in the Church. Submission to authority is what Jesus learned, It was the first steps that Jesus took in his earthly life and Nazareth. And from there he progressed and no doubt he was tempted. He really was tempted like we are. He was tempted to rebel, but he did not. He overcame in the power of the Holy Spirit and he opened the new and living way for us to follow. If we want to follow, we can.