Las week, at start of our series in Luke’s gospel, ‘Life in 3 Dimensions,’ we focussed on the Magnificat from Luke 1 and the UP dimension of Mary’s relationship with God. As we move into chapter 2 Mary’s baby, Jesus, is born. However, in the following three decades little is known about his life apart from one isolated incident found in Luke 2, which records his first words.
It’s interesting that the first words from the mouth of Jesus are questions. He loved to ask questions, so that they became a key part of his life and teaching ministry right to the very end when he uttered the words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Questions are an invitation for further reflection because they encourage us to think, to react, to consider a response. Questions illicit information, inspire people to discover something new, persuade, stimulate thought and forge intimacy.
Even at 12 years of age Jesus seemed to recognise the power and potential of questions and tended to ask three types: straightforward or direct questions; rhetorical questions that were left hanging for people to ponder, and disarming questions that challenge and have the potential to change you.
As you think about your life in 3 dimensions, with God, with each other in the church and with those beyond your walls, you need to appreciate and value the potential that questions play in the development of these relationships. Follow Christ’s example – ask questions.
The context in Luke 2 is Passover, a mammoth event in Israel’s history when God’s people remembered his setting them free from slavery in Egypt. After the festival Jesus was somehow left behind in Jerusalem and his parents went back to look for him. They found him sitting in the temple listening to the teachers of the law and asking questions. He was clearly a listener and a learner, and his posture recognises that he was teachable and eager to learn.
Are you willing to reflect the posture of Jesus; teachable and eager to learn? Jesus is a supreme teacher who helps us to grow in our knowledge of and relationship with him by giving us the Holy Spirit whom he promised, “will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). What have you heard and learnt from him this week?
When Mary and Joseph found Jesus they were astonished, yet Mary understandably questioned him, “Son, why have you treated us like this?” When she tells him of their anxiety, he answers with two questions, the second of which contains the key statement in the overall story, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Jesus knew his true identity as none other than God’s son, not Joseph’s.
The Bible likewise says that if you acknowledge Jesus as your Saviour you are adopted into God’s family as a son or daughter, so that your core identity is in Christ (Cf. 1 John 3:1-2a). Knowing your true identity is vital to your relationship with the Father, in your relationship with one another, and in your relationship with those who are not yet Christians – who are you?
Following this event in Luke chapter 2 the Bible says nothing about the next eighteen years of Jesus’ life. Even though he had just declared his identity as the Son of God and recognised the temple as his Father’s house, all we are told is that that he went home with his parents and was obedient to them. Jesus displayed humility and obedience, two essential characteristics for our UP relationship with God.
The final insight in v.52 tells us that Jesus “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Humanly speaking he grew mentally, spiritually, physically and socially. Whilst it may be difficult to understand how, what we see here is an awareness of him as ‘Son of God’ and ‘Son of man’ – fully God and fully man. Are you growing in wisdom, in understanding, in favour with God and with others?
Headlines to take away:
Know your true identity
Pursue humility and obedience
Grow as Jesus did