Luke 2:39-52: The Childhood of Jesus
‘Who am I?’ a basic question that all of us have struggled to answer. For many of us this has been a tremendous struggle, for those brought up in a Christian home and taught a biblical worldview, you have been saved from unnecessary confusion in so many areas. Many today think they are nothing more than evolved apes; others are experiencing gender dysphoria; many are struggling with basic questions about what career they should do, what do they like and want to pursue, etc. My own personal time of crisis with all of these questions were my teenage years, I remember being confronted with the big questions, like what is the meaning of life and having no clue and being in the dark and so frustrated with the lack of answers. My experience will be typical of many of us, but Jesus had a very different experience. What would the childhood of the Sinless One be like? What would the childhood of the One who was God be like? The gospels do not give us a lot of information about the childhood of Christ, the birth narratives are extensive in their detail, and then Jesus suddenly appears at the age of 30 to begin His ministry. What happened between birth and thirty?
There are many theories about what happened. Matthew records the flight to Egypt, Luke chooses to leave it out. This flight to Egypt and its scant details have led to many fabrications. It has always been the temptation of people to fill in the blanks, not content with God has chosen to reveal they have to add more. For this reason there are several false accounts of Christ’s infancy, these are known as pseudopigrapha, they are false books written in the names of other people like Matthew, Thomas, Peter, etc. For example in the pseudo-gospel of Matthew when Jesus is born he stands up. Then three dragons appear which he instantly tames. On his journey lions and panthers accompany him. On the third day of their journey Mary became fatigued so Jesus spoke to a palm tree and it bowed over to offer her its fruit and it opened a spring from its roots for her. The Egyptian Orthodox church has several holy sites which relate to fabricated events from the childhood visit of Christ to Egypt. In all of these accounts the humanity of Christ is undermined, instead of Jesus coming as a weak and vulnerable child, He is always made out to be a type of demigod. In fact some of the accounts not only err in making Him less human but even sinful.
Luke 2:39-52 is a welcome window then helping us to see that Jesus was in fact fully human. Think of this revelation by God as a typical of the rest of Christ’s childhood. As we look at it we will note firstly, the normal human development of Christ, and secondly the unique self-awareness that Christ has as He grew up.