Thursday, August 24, 2006

Jesus the Student

Many people read Luke 2:41–52 and think that Jesus is challenging the teachers in the Temple. He comes to Jerusalem as a child of 12 and instructs the people who were supposed to be the experts.

But let me suggest to you a different way to read this passage.

Jesus wasn’t a teacher. He was a student. The picture Luke gives us is one of a precocious student who has an unusual grasp of the subject and who is voraciously taking in everything the teachers give him. “They found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.”

It would not be hard to image him also challenging the standard interpretations, “What if this passage is talking about this?” But this is primarily a story about Jesus’ development as a child on the verge of becoming an adult.

If you still aren’t convinced, look at verses 40 & 52:
And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Between these “bookends,” Luke recounts this story told to him by Mary (verse 51). Jesus is preparing himself for the mission that lies ahead.

Pastor Rod

“Helping you become the person God created you to be”

13 comments:

The Genevan Oracle said...

I don't think the passage warrants Jesus being presented solely as teacher or student. I think there is a bit of the miraculous being presented as well here in that a 12 year old can hold - can force - an audience of "the doctors" of the temple - in Jerusalem - and astonish them with his understanding. Especially considering there is no mention of Jesus getting any special tutoring back home the rest of the year(s).

And knowing the rest of the story it is not unwarranted, or uncalled for, to read a little bit of "challenging" of what was happening between the 12-year-old Saviour and the wise men of the temple...

Pastor Rod said...

Oracle,

Thanks for stopping by. I suspect we are too quick to assume the miraculous when reading the accounts about Jesus. Luke's purpose here seems to be to emphasize the humanity of Jesus and his development.

Rod

The Genevan Oracle said...

Well, you're putting more emphasis on 'miraculous' than I was. Jesus is Jesus, though, He's not just a little boy who strolls into the temple.

Again, though, God cannot but challenge those who are wise in their own conceits...

Pastor Rod said...

Oracle,

Where does it say that the teachers in the Temple were "wise in their own conceits"?

While Jesus may be "more than a little boy" he is still a little boy nonetheless. We tend to forget that.

Rod

The Genevan Oracle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Genevan Oracle said...

Where does it say that the teachers in the Temple were "wise in their own conceits"?

Where in the New Testament does Jesus demonstrate them, by His actions and words towards them, as anything else? Did they get real dumb, real fast?

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon us...

Keith.Drury said...

Interesting post! I am sometimes amazed and taught at my student's questions... in some ways a good question can lead to learning better than an answer. I have always suspected this may have been part of Jesus' approach. But, as you say, he had growing to do yet. Not growing to become more God--he was already 100% God, but growing still was ahead of Him. That encourages me--even Jesus, 100% God, still had more space for growing more in favor with God and man, and growth mentally along with his coming physical growth. Understanding how Jesus ciould "grow" in these non-physical ways may be the secret to knowing how one might be "holy" or "sanctified" yet still have growth to do?

Pastor Rod said...

Keith,

Thanks for your contribution. It also might have some hint as to our growth and development in heaven.

Rod

Anonymous said...

Don Johnson says

My understanding is that it is very Jewish, even rabbinic, to answer a question with a question. So Jesus fit right in.

This is also one of those little details that indicate authenticity of the account.

Pastor Rod said...

Don,

There's an account of this incident in one of the Apocryphal Gospels (The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Savior) where Jesus is instructing the teachers in astronomy:

"And the Lord Jesus answered him, and explained the number of the spheres, and of the heavenly bodies, their natures and operations; their opposition; their aspect, triangular, square, and sextile; their course, direct and retrograde; the twenty-fourths, and sixtieths of twenty-fourths; and other things beyond the reach of reason."

Then they ask him questions about science:

"And He, in reply, explained to him physics and metaphysics, hyperphysics and hypophysics, the powers likewise and humours of the body, and the effects of the same; also the number of members and bones, of veins, arteries, and nerves; also the effect of heat and dryness, of cold and moisture, and what these give rise to; what was the operation of the soul upon the body, and its perceptions and powers; what was the operation of the faculty of speech, of anger, of desire; lastly, their conjunction and disjunction, and other things beyond the reach of any created intellect."

A rather stark contrast, no?

Unfortunately, many people interpret Luke's account so that it is closer to this apocryphal invention.

Rod

Anonymous said...

Don Johnson says

Every group seems to want to claim Jesus as one of their own.

loh said...

Pastor Rod, can you please give more information on Jesus explaining science? Am intrigued by the little you have written.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the premise of argument, there is little interpretation to be done if you are at peace with yourself, and aren't living with a guilty conscious and a gaping hole in your heart. If you want love you will find it, and the cynical nature and humanistic views of society dont allow for subjective interpretations of modern culture, we are but a statistic. That is science, how, not why, and that is where god stands, to tell us why. I think therefore I am, what are you?