Luke 2:39-52 Frustrated with Growth

39 And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favour of God was upon him.

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and man.

Frustrated with Growth

I have grown more than I expected this last year, especially in the last academic year.  In struggling to maintain my self-discipline, I have ‘grown’ 12 pounds in weight.  It’s nothing like I used to be, I am still thirty pounds less than that, but the trend is in the wrong direction.  My doctor and I have talked about it, but in my mind it has been a year to put wife and family first, and I have struggled to do that in a healthy way.  In putting others first, I have put them before God in a sense.  I do not consciously put others before God, but I create a ‘to do’ list for the day. I have felt some kind of pressure withing me to put others before myself or God.  I have not had faith that if I put God first, the other things that have to be done will be done.  I also argued that I could care for myself and my relationship with God at the end of the day.  I didn’t have to do it in the morning.  The result was that time to exercise, read good books, or pray came at the end of the day.  As you may have been able to tell by the decline in blog posts that didn’t work well.

The fact is, like Jesus in this passage, we must be uncompromising with our stance of putting God first.  All other disciplines flow out of this.  Another byproduct is that I was actually happier and more content when I was not putting children and family before God on the agenda. I was growing, and I think those around me grew more as a result.  

In this passage Jesus’ focus is on God, his Father first.  He is growing like a normal child in some ways, but through an education rooted in God Jesus grows in knowledge and wisdom.  He also realises the boundaries between what he is called to do and what his mother wants.  Notice how Mary should be apologizing for her neglect of her son, but like many parents when they have not done the right thing, she tries to pass the blame onto Jesus.  Jesus is growing in emotional, physical, spiritual and social knowledge.  In some of those ways he would have been dependent on his parents, but now there is a break.  There is a reversal of the usual order of a child learning for their parents and now the parent is learning from the child.

We might expect that the next chapter will open with Jesus at age 13 preaching to the world, but Jesus still had to grow and develop.  The essential element though is that Jesus’ source of growth is established.  His parents do not have to mediate the things of God for him any more.  He has developed a razor sharp focus on what really matters and he will pursue God his Father wherever he leads.  His family comes second, if they did not he would not grow.

Yesterday I did not post because I put my grading first on the to-do list.  I was thinking that God has given me a job and the grading dead-line is today, so I must finish the grading before everything else.  It is a common standard of the world, but today’s reading calls me back to where my primary focus must be for growth.


Father, I am not happy where I am physically, intellectually or spiritually.  I have made decisions more in line with the world’s standards than yours.  My mind, body, and spirit are moving in the wrong direction compared with where they should.  If there is a pattern of growth recently it has been in the wrong areas.  I pray that you would be my vision.


  1. How is Jesus’ growth described?
  2. What is the source of his growth?
  3. How is Jesus a model for us in relation to his mother?
  4. Does you family serve God or does God serve your family?
  5. How can you more align yourself with God and live the harmonious life to which he has called you?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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