Friday of Christmas II – Luke 2:40-52

40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

We have only one story from Jesus’ childhood in the Bible. This is it. There are several apocryphal stories about Jesus as a child. They are all rather horrifying. But this one is strange too. Mary and Joseph seem to be rather negligent to our eyes. But in the ancient world a village really did take responsibility for the raising of children. What is more interesting is how Luke struggles with a deep question: the knowledge of Jesus. It is one thing to say that God took up a body and that this body grew in maturity. This does not create a problem for us. God as a spirit does not have a body. There is no conflict here.

But God has a mind, a vast, infinite mind. He knows everything. Indeed, some have suggested that God is pure mind, that intelligence is the essence of God. Plato talked that way many years before Jesus was born. But the very essence of being a child is learning. If Jesus did not learn, was he truly human? If he learned, can he really be said to be the infinitely knowledgeable God? This is much harder to imagine for us.

One can get a headache if one thinks about this long enough. Thomas Aquinas thought a great deal about this, and he seems to have died of a headache. There are limits what we can understand, particularly when it comes to God. And so, Luke gives us this strangely incongruent picture. The young man who confounded the teachers of the Law increases in wisdom. He is wholly God and wholly man. How that can be, I do not know. But I can confess it to be so.

This same Lord Jesus who wholly knows you and who is wholly God rules over this universe for your sake.

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