#DailyDevotion A Rather Unmythical Messiah
40The little Child grew big and strong and full of wisdom, and God’s favor was with Him. 41Every year His parents would go to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. 42And so when He was twelve, they went up for the festival as usual. 43When the festival days were over and they started for home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His mother and Joseph didn’t know about it. 44They thought He was with the others who were traveling with them. After traveling a day, they started to look for Him among their relatives and friends. 45When they didn’t find Him, they went back to Jerusalem, looking for Him. 46Two days later they found Him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47His understanding and His answers surprised all who heard Him.
The most amazing thing about the four canonical gospels is, other than an angel making some announcements and warnings and a virgin birth, there is a surprising lack of mythic quality to them. If you go and read some of the recently found second and third century non-canonical i.e. not approved gospels you will find they provide infancy and young Jesus story that will compare with the mythical stories of the Greek and Roman gods. Jesus in those gospels is making clay birds come to life and cursing kids that make fun of him and some animals come up immediately and devour them. However, the canonical gospels, the ones the actual apostles and associates of the apostles wrote seem much more ordinary and historical.
So it is with Luke in chapter two here. The infant Jesus grows big and strong and full of wisdom and God’s favor was with him. Unlike some sci-fi shows where an alien mysteriously impregnates a woman and the child has a quick gestation and grows to maturity in a hastened pace, Jesus just matures along the same path everyone else does. You would only recognize him as a child that was gifted intelligently and healthy. He was and well still is a pretty smart cookie.
Jesus as a good Jew of good Jewish parents lives a life under the Law of Moses in the Mosaic covenant. As such he goes with his parent every year to Jerusalem to fulfill the Law and celebrate the Passover. Luke apparently got this account from Mary as it certainly sounds like a story a mother would remember about her son as a child. After the Passover, Jesus stays at the temple and is forgotten by Mary and Joseph. They thought he was with relatives and friends. Many firstborns I bet can relate to this happening to them. Well Jesus makes the most of it, stays at the temple and uses his time to sitting among the teachers of Israel, listening to them and asking them questions. Luke tells us, “47His understanding and His answers surprised all who heard Him.” So we see, Jesus has a good head on his shoulder as youth. I guess we could try to play this up more to be something fantastic but Luke doesn’t nor Matthew so we shouldn’t either.
What we get is a young Messiah who obeys the Law for us and with whom the Lord is present with his grace and favor makes him an exceptional child intellectually. This helps us to see this isn’t a myth Luke is fabricating but rather an historical account of the one who becomes our Savior from sin, death and the power of the devil.
Heavenly Father, you made your son Jesus Christ to be like us and poured forth your grace and favor upon him. Grant us your Holy Spirit that with faith in Jesus we may gain an understanding of the good news of the forgiveness of sin in Christ. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.