In the four Gospel accounts, only Luke mentions Jesus’ childhood. He gives us a sparse description, saying only that the boy Jesus grew and became strong. This boy Jesus was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God.
But He was indeed a child, and grew, as children do, in stature and in wisdom.
And His mom Mary watched him. She “stored” what she already knew about Him and what she was learning about Him in her heart. She watched Him learn His trade from his earthly father Joseph. She watched as He grew up in anonymity in the out of the way town they lived in. She watched. She wondered. She waited.
Why aren’t we given more detail of Jesus’ years growing up? Probably because they were very similar to our growing up years. They were a time of learning and preparation. We would probably be a little disappointed if we knew more about them, because they would be a so parallel to our own.
That’s the key.
He experienced the same life stages, and experiences, and challenges that we do. He grew, He learned, He loved, He felt disappointment, He felt sorrow, He laughed, He loved. He cared for His mother and siblings as the oldest son, after the death of Joseph. Someone must have paid Him wage. Otherwise, He wouldn’t have been able to take care of them.
He understands us.
He doesn’t relate to us as a distant and detached deity. He gets our pain, because he has experienced pain. He relishes our joy, because He knows joy. He knows what it is to be misunderstood and maligned. He knows what it is to give and receive love.
At Christmas, we sing of Immanuel, the truth that “God (is now) with us.” During Lent, we reflect on the truth that He understands us, because He became one of us. On Easter, we celebrate the truth that in every way He positioned Himself perfectly to redeem us.
The author of Hebrews encourages us this way (italics mine):
” So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:14-16 (New Living Translation)
As we continue the move toward the Resurrection, may you continue to move closer and closer to the One who loves you completely and unceasingly, because he understands your life so intimately.