One of the observations about the boy Jesus that I have always liked is Luke’s statement that “Jesus grew in both wisdom and stature, gaining the approval of God and all the people” (2:52). He had astounded the rabbis in Jerusalem with the depth of his understanding and the skill with which asked and answered questions (vs. 47). Now he was back home in Nazareth, a simple hillside town. For a twelve year old boy that remarkable three day event in the capitol city was sure a lot to brag about but Jesus continued his normal life, growing up physically, learning new things every day, pleasing God, and developing a good reputation with the towns-people.
My question was, “What’s it like to live like Jesus?” This incident gives us a good clue. I believe the first thing for us is to embrace the immediate setting in which God has placed us. We may feel that we were meant for better things. The dusty hills of our Nazareth seem not the best in which to share our gifts with the world. And that is exactly our natural response. But God has placed us exactly where we are at this specific time. Someone said, “To be satisfied with one’s lot is to acknowledge that God’s plan is better than ours.”
A second point is that Jesus grew. We understand how he would grow physically but what about growing in wisdom? Luke is not talking about growing in knowledge but in wisdom. There is a significant difference, wisdom being the wise application of knowledge to life. And that is perhaps the very reason why Jesus gained the approval of the towns-people. Nothing is quite so socially positive as mature individuals applying to life all that they have learned about what serves the common good.
The text also says that in addition to gaining the approval of the people he also gained God’s approval. This sounds at first as though earlier on he didn’t have it, but that would be word play. Every virtue can grow. To love more doesn’t imply a former lack of love. What Luke is saying is that as Jesus grew into manhood his life was pleasing to his Father all along the way. And that is how we are to live