ADVENT SERIES! What Child is This? Growing in Wisdom

WHAT CHILD IS THIS?    GROWING IN WISDOM:           –                             30/12/2018
 
Memory Verse:     Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding (Proverbs 4:7).

Key Reading: Luke 2:40-52

‘And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.’

INTRODUCTION

True wisdom grows in community, obedience, and trials.

I’m excited to conclude our two part Advent seriesWhat Child is This? – because this series, has been teaching us, that Christmas is much more than a festive holiday. Christmas is the celebration of God becoming a man, the incarnation. But, how should the incarnation, how should Jesus’ humanity change and affect our everyday lives? That’s the question that we’ve been considering this Christmas season. And it’s been a good balance for us as a church because we’ve been studying the Old Testament, looking at the relevance of the Kingdom of Israel and the prophets, in pointing to future events, including the prophecy of Christ’s birth life and ministry. Some 2700 years ago, Isaiah’s prophecy presented Jesus as Immanuel – God with us, conceived by a virgin (Isaiah 7:14); in Chapter 9, Isaiah goes on to portray a dramatic picture of the qualities, office and role this child will bear.

‘For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this’ (Isaiah 9:6-7).  
And it’s important that we keep the two natures – His divinity and His humanity – of Christ together. He was more than human. Jesus, was and is both fully God and fully man, and as man he showed us what it means to be truly human in this world. As a human, he shows us how to grow in wisdom. That’s the aspect of Jesus’ humanity that we’re going to look at today. How do we do it? How did Jesus grow in wisdom? Jesus grew in wisdom the same way we are to grow in wisdom. He learned and applied God’s truth to real life. That’s wisdom: the skill of applying God’s truth to real life. And two times here Luke tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom. Once at the end of the story in verse 52 and another time at the beginning of this story in verse 40,
“… Jesus grew in wisdom...”
Luke wants us to see, in this story, how Jesus grew in wisdom and how we should grow in wisdom as well. This little story is extremely important because in our increasingly individualistic culture, we’re tempted to believe we gain wisdom in isolation. I have to retreat by myself with a bunch of books and read a lot and then I’ll be wise, or I’ll grow in wisdom by doing life my own way, or if I can only avoid pain and suffering, I’ll be able to grow in wisdom. But what Jesus teaches us here is actually the very opposite. In this story, Jesus teaches us that true wisdom grows in community, obedience, and trials.

1.      WISDOM GROWS IN COMMUNITY

Jesus didn’t grow in wisdom in isolation. Of course, he took time to study alone, but what Luke emphasizes here is that Jesus grew in wisdom because of the theological communities that he was a part of. Theologythe study of God and His relationship to communities (universality).
 
 
And so we see that wisdom doesn’t grow by itself, it grows in community: challenging communities, humble communities, and learning communities.

2.     WISDOM GROWS IN OBEDIENCE

When Mary and Joseph finally find Jesus in the temple, they ask him, “Why have you treated us like this?” Behold, your father and I have been worried sick. Look at his answer, “And he said to them, ‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’” (v48, 49).

You see, the emphasis is on who is Jesus’ Father. Where does Jesus’ ultimate loyalty lie? And what Jesus is saying here was that in some way, staying behind was a matter of obedience to his heavenly Father. That’s why he says, “I must be in my Father’s house.” (v49). It was necessary. God’s will comes first (Matthew 6:33).

Jesus teaches us that wisdom is not the accumulation of knowledge. A wise person is not someone who knows a lot of information about the Bible. A wise person is someone who actually applies what they know about the Bible. A wise person is someone who not only knows God’s truth but applies God’s truth no matter what. Because wisdom is not just displayed in obedience; it grows in obedience. We all love pudding, right? But you don’t really know the sweetness of a portion of pudding until you taste it. You don’t really know the wisdom of your coach until you put their strategy into play. Likewise, you don’t really know the sweetness of obedience and the wisdom of God until you put his Word into practice.

‘But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. But he who … continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does‘ (James 1:22,25).
Hebrews in Chapter 5, says, “By this time, you should be mature but you still need milk.” Because solid food is for those who’ve learned to put in practice the things they’ve learned, and the word there is gymnasio. It means to work it out. You see, you don’t grow your muscles by just reading a lot of books on weightlifting. What do you eventually need to do? Lift some weights. You need to hit the gym! That’s how your muscles grow, and it’s the same with wisdom. The way we grow is applying what we already know. Friends, what do you already know that you need to apply in order to grow? This is why Jesus, at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, says,
“Those who hear my words and” what? “do them is like a wise man who builds his house on a rock” (Matthew7:24).
A wise person doesn’t just know God’s truth; they build their life on it. In other words, a wise person doesn’t just hear a sermon, they put it into practice throughout the week. They seeks to change where necessary and apply the truth to life. Not just obedience to God in isolation, but through the different authority structures that God puts in our lives. Luke shows us that when Jesus left with his parents, he was submissive to them. His emphasis here is on the submissive obedience of Jesus to both fathers, his heavenly Father and earthly father. The path to true wisdom is not doing what you want; it’s doing what God wants even if no one else understands. I must pray, I must serve, I must read, I must … Submissive obedience is the path to wisdom.

3.     WISDOM GROWS IN TRIALS

What we learn here is that we grow in wisdom by going through trials. But we don’t like to hear that, do we? We go out of our way to avoid suffering. That’s why so many people have winter homes and summer homes. But growing in wisdom is like any successful team: The only way they can grow into the team they need to be is through the pain of the drills. And now who goes through the pain of a trial in this story? It’s Mary and Joseph, right? Moms can you imagine not knowing where your child is for several days. This is a major trial for them, and we can’t help but read this story and think, Man, it sure looks like Jesus was being the most disobedient and at the least very inconsiderate of his parents. Why did he just stay behind and not tell anyone? 
But I think that’s why Luke emphasizes Jesus’ understanding in verse 47 with his parents’ misunderstanding in verse 50. Jesus wasn’t the only one growing in wisdom in this story. Mary and Joseph are growing in wisdom. Jesus is not just learning here; he’s teaching here, and he realizes that Mary and Joseph can only grow in wisdom by going through this trial.
You see their question: “Why did you treat us so?” Why? Why Jesus? That’s always the question we ask, isn’t it? Why did my business have to fail? Why did my child have to die? Why are you treating me like this God? What we often forget is that sometimes the only way Jesus can teach us is by taking us through a trial.
Wisdom grows in trials. See, the problem of losing Jesus is actually meant to be a learning opportunity for Mary and Joseph. They were learning who Jesus really is. He’s ultimately not their little 12-year-old boy. He’s their Lord and Saviour who has come to do the will of the Father.
How we view the problems we face in life makes all the difference. One of the things we often think is, If I can just get past all these problems, then everything will be fine. But that’s not how God works. What happens when you get through the problems of second year  and move on to third year? What do you get in third year? Third-year problems. And why do you get third-year problems? Because you’ve been prepared for them.
When a student gets handed a test with a bunch of problems, it may feel like they’re being punished, but they’re not. They’re growing up. They’re being taught. The teacher takes them through the problems to work out not because they don’t like the student. It’s exactly the opposite; it’s because they like the student and want to teach them and grow them. We don’t just solve the problems of life with God’s wisdom. The problems of life are the way we get wisdom. I think it was a Puritan who said that our trials are God’s classroom, where the greatest of lessons are learned. Trials are not meant to be desirable, they’re meant to be profitable. We’re going to be continually frustrated with God if we think that it’s His job to keep us from going through problems. God’s desire is not to keep us from problems. His desire is to mature us and grow us through the problems. Suffering and trials are inevitable experiences that we are meant to walk through in order to grow in Godly wisdom. Infact, we are meant to be cheerful as we pass through tense and critical trials, because Christ is alongside, comforting and giving us victory.
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
We all know, don’t we, that it’s the people who have gone through a lot and who come out on the other side who have a lot to teach us. Why? Because wisdom grows by passing through trials. And, you see, it’s the immature person, the foolish person, who wants progress without a price. They are waiting for the easy break, the quick payoff. They want to be an eighth year, but they don’t want to handle the problems that get them there.
What Mary and Joseph are facing is a second-year problem, and it’s meant to get them ready for the eighth year. See, Mary and Joseph came with Jesus to the feast of Passover. The feast celebrated God’s deliverance for  His people from their enemies through the blood of the Lamb, but they leave the feast without Jesus and they’re worried sick. What if something happened to him? But three days later, they find him alive and well, only to learn more and more who he really is. You see Jesus is preparing them for the sixth-year problem (examination), on the day when he would be the true Passover lamb, to die on the cross for our sins. Mary and all his disciples would leave that feast without Jesus and think that Jesus was lost forever, but three days later, they would find him alive and well! And when they did, they would learn more and more about him—that when it doesn’t seem like he’s in control, that he really is, that when it seems like he’s treating us badly, he’s actually teaching us and saving us completely.

CONCLUSION

Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding (Proverbs 4:7).

What we’ve learned from Jesus this morning is that the fruit of wisdom grows on the branches of community, obedience, and trials. What aspect of your life needs to change so that wisdom can grow? Do you need to invest more in a humble learning community that challenges you? Do you need to begin applying God’s truth more in day-to-day obedience? Applying what you already know. Do you need change the way you look at trials and see them as God’s classroom that’s meant to grow your wisdom?
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Adapted from original by Jeremy McKeen, Truth Point Church in West Palm Beach, Florida.
 
 
Let’s Prays:    Lord we pray for grace to respond to Your Word appropriately.   That Your Holy Spirit may help us understand the the transforming power of His truth for our lives – WISDOM – so we can become more and more like Jesus. May our communities, cities and neighbours (friends, family, prodigals) respond and repent and be reconciled to You Lord, Our God, through the Preaching and Teaching of Your Word! We pray for our nation, and all the nations, that they will welcome the Hope and Assurance we have in Christ Jesus. Amen!

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Trust in The Lord

It’s simple. It’s short. Yet it’s incredibly powerful. Proverbs 3:5-6 is one of the most familiar passages in the Bible–with good reason. It sets forth a life-changing truth that is worthy of our attention. Spend three minutes reading this article, and see if you agree.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Trust in the Lord.

It starts with trust. Any real relationship has to start with some level of trust. It’s the only way a friendship will endure. It’s the only way a marriage will work out. It’s the simple reason why an employer hires workers, or why the workers stay employed. It’s all about trust. Trust in the Lord, however, takes on an entirely new dimension. This is our trust in an eternal, all-powerful, all-wise, all-loving God. He is worthy of our trust. The trust is important, not just because of who God is, but because of the way in which we must trust him: with all your heart. It involves every fiber of your being. That’s the kind of trust we can have in God–a complete, unshakable, deep, abiding trust.

 

Read part 2, Don’t Lean On Your Understanding


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Do Not Lean on Your Own Understanding

Read part 1 first, Trust In The Lord.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

 

Don’t Lean on Your Understanding

The verse involves a positive–something you must do. But it also involves a negative–something you must not do. Don’t lean on your own understanding. Basically, the verse is telling us that we ought not to be self-reliant. We cannot pursue a course of action, a financial decision, a business move, a relationship, or an educational choice, simply based on our own understanding. It must be founded in our trust in God.

Self-reliance is such a deceptive trap. We begin to pride ourselves in something–our savvy, our looks, our intellect, our spirituality, our family, whatever. And when we do, it takes away our trust in the Lord. It has become trust in self. The result is a dangerous compromise that will lead to destruction.

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