And Jesus grew
and in favor with God
My wife Gina and I decided a few weeks back to go on some old fashioned Sunday afternoon drives each week in the security of our cars where we felt it was safe during this COVID-19 time. This last Sunday we decided to surprise our oldest daughter and her family by stopping by their house in Maple Valley. We would keep our distance but love them more personally than the Facetime encounters we had been having over the past couple of months. They were all excited to see us but our three grandchildren Sam, Lucy and Henry were especially excited to see us. We caught them at the very time where they were letting their butterflies fly away. They had all daily watched these creations of God go from a small dot placed in a net cage all the way to the point of emerging the chrysalis with beautiful wings which they were now spreading wide for this purpose…to fly away.
How hard it was for these kids, especially Lucy our 5 yr old granddaughter. She wanted to keep them all close. She did not want to see them leave the nest and into the lives God had for them away from the refuge these beautiful creatures had come to know.
I got to thinking about how much our parenting experience is like that as we watch our kids move from birth to that point in life where they need to fly…leave the nest. My wife and I can now look back and realize in the big picture that we did provide all the main things our children needed to make it in life and to fly with Jesus as their Savior and Lord. We feel blessed that all three of our daughters are living in a close relationship with Him and two of them now teaching their children to do the same. How can we all continue teaching the next generation?
Who would have thought we would be in this Stay-at-Home order just after we went through the sermon series “For our Kids” back in January and February here at Chapel Hill? It was certainly a great series where we learned the importance of teaching our kids about the Lord. We explored together what it means to teach faith to the kids in our homes.
(If you didn’t happen to catch this series or if you want to refresh yourselves during this Stay-at-Home time here is a link to watch or listen to them… http://www.chapelhillpc.org/resources/sermons/series/for-our-kids)
In the one verse text above, Luke tells us that Jesus grew and matured, and that he grew in two major ways…internally and relationally. Let's explore what this verse can teach us about still being for our kids. The truth is that we really don’t have anything else to read in the Bible about Jesus growing up from a couple of years after his birth to his teenage years except for this one verse. I see however that this single verse can provide each of us a simple yet profound framework for having meaningful conversations with the kids in our lives. Let's explore together some important lessons. We find that Jesus grew in three categories mentioned: wisdom, stature, and favor. Let’s take a look at what each of these can mean for us.
The best definition for this word which is seared in my head from one of my Bible professor on this word wisdom: “Wisdom is the ability to see things from God’s perspective”. How can we take the time that we have with our kids to help them do that? It seems that to have kids grow in wisdom they would need to grow in knowledge of God. Then it seems they can connect what they know about Him with their lives. They would need to be taught what it means to reflect on their choices, consider their motives as well as the consequences their actions might have on others.
The original Greek language that this verse was written in uses the word Sophia. Jesus grew in “Sophia”. This by name is the Greek goddess of rebirth and wisdom. From studying this word Biblically, we find it means “the varied knowledge of things human and divine, acquired by acuteness and experience”. How can we help our children to have knowledge of things human and divine? How can we help them this week to have a keen awareness of what God is doing and might want to do through us in our midst? It would be living out the part of the Lord’s prayer where we pray… ”Thy Kingdom Come”. We want to make sure we help our kids see God's Kingdom alive in this world. Help the kids see God is in our midst helping us gain wisdom…an ability where we see things the way He does. James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
Pray with your children that you would all grow in wisdom.
To look at this word in Greek we find “hēlikia”. Jesus grew in “helikia”. It literally means to grow in age. This word describes the span of our life we have here on earth. It is the length and the maturity gained as we live life here on earth. Ages and stages are ways we watch our children grow. Helikia is about the span from when a child is born, rolls over, sits up, crawls, says first word, walks, goes to school, graduates from High school or college, finds a ministry or job and gets married. When we help them grow in stature we are choosing to daily help them get from birth to the point of flying well like butterflies. We want them to know that they are not created to be independent but rather dependent on God by the time they fly from our safe nest. It is in that dependence that Jesus reveals to each of them the abundant life that He offers...the best life possible. We want them to grow in the knowledge of what Jesus tells each of us in John 10:10...
“The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Our job as parents over the span of years should be about helping them to find a clear dependence on Jesus. Ephesians 2:10 says...
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Pray with your children to grow physically, emotionally and spiritually dependent on God from birth to adulthood (and beyond).
The Greek word here is “charis”. Jesus grew in “charis” with God. How can we help our children grow in grace and favor with God? This Greek word means “grace - that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness, good will, loving-kindness, favor of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues”. Are we helping our children know what is pleasing to God? If we stop to just imagine all that Mary and Joseph might have done to help Jesus to do what pleases His Heavenly father and to become intimately close with Him, we might capture what this would mean for us as parents. I imagine Mary or Joseph reading scripture to Him, telling stories of a young woman betrothed to his father, stories of angel visitations and a virgin birth, taking time to pray for and with him, saying the Shema two times a day and keeping Sabbath holy. What I believe was their greatest teaching was how they personally kept their own lives personally in favor with their God.
Pray with and for your children to live personally in God’s grace and favor…in right relationship with Him.
Luke also says Jesus not only grew in favor with God but that He also grew in grace or favor with man. Jesus grew in “charis” with man. Throughout my life I have regularly been able to see that a person with an authentic right relationship with God is attractive to others. When Jesus was giving his last instructions to His disciples before ascending into heaven we read that he says in Acts 1:8...
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
There are two outcomes of a right relationship with Jesus as He clearly states…we will receive power through the Holy Spirit and we will be witnesses of who He is to the entire world starting in the immediate place that we live. Your kids will be witnesses if they have a right relationship with Jesus.
Pray with your children that you would all receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray that you could each show others who Jesus is by the lives you live every day.
Look along with me to a future where you will let your butterflies fly from the refuge, shelter-in-place that you have created for them. Take this opportunity you have from birth to flight to show them Jesus and how to have a relationship with Him every day. Live out the abundant life He has promised all of you as you together keep up a dynamic relationship with Him. Let's continue being For our Kids - building tomorrows kingdom today.