January 18, 2019

Preparation (From birth to Introduction)

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people. – Luke 2:52 (Describing Jesus at the age of 12. . . the final words about Jesus before his reappearance at about the age of 30.)

All we know about these early days in the life of Jesus are recorded in Matthew and Luke. Mark and John both begin with the ministry of John the Baptist. That doesn’t diminish the significance of these years, however. It was during these days that Jesus was developing a growing awareness of who he was as the Messiah in PREPARATION for his redemptive ministry.

In examining this period it will be important to distinguish between the FACTS we have in Matthew and Luke and the SPECULATION that is so common and easy to do. Speculation must be consistent with the facts and must be understood as just that, speculation. Still, speculation can be helpful as it enables all of us better to identify with the humanity of Jesus.

From a divine perspective, Jesus’ preparation began in the halls of eternity as God in His sovereignty looked through time toward the fall of man and man’s eventual redemption. But eternity is not the scope of this study. Our discussion will be limited to the earthly life and ministry of Jesus.

Jesus began his preparation on the night of his birth in the loving arms of his earthly parents. Preparation continued as he developed self-awareness and an understanding of the broader community of Jewish faith and messianic expectation. His “world” naturally trained him to be a good Jew. His heavenly Father helped prepare him to be the Messiah.

As with anyone, Jesus was, at first, a child with the mind of a child. He learned to trust Mary and Joseph and develop an identity as their son. Then Jesus was a boy with the nature of a boy. He tested expectations and began to think independently of those in authority over him. In time he became a man with all the passions and ambitions of any man. He lived one day at a time just as we do and learned, as we must, that the life of righteousness is a life of faith.

We do not know when Jesus developed a full understanding of his messianic identity, but he seemed to have a healthy sense of “sonship” at the age of 12 when he responded to his parents’ concern with, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know that I had to be in my Father’s house?”

At some point it appears that Joseph died because he disappears completely from the narrative. Jesus is now the oldest of the children in the family and his preparation continues in the home, in the carpentry shop, in the community, and in the quiet places of his heart as he prays, studies, and listens.

We do not know all of the experiences that shaped his messianic identity, but it was this identity that was central to his preparation for his redemptive mission. It was 30 years in the making. It’s no wonder that it was this identity that Satan first attacked in the temptation. . . “If you are the Son of God. . .”

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For a listing of all of the events recorded for this period, see Events in the Preparation Period.

 

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