In first-century biographies, a person’s early life usually wasn’t mentioned. So it’s not uncommon that two of the four Gospel writers don’t pick up Jesus Christ’s life story until He was about 30 years old. Even Matthew, who did record something about the birth of Jesus, didn’t go into much detail.
Luke, however, notices two important things.
First, in covering the first 12 years of Christ’s life Luke says, “The Child grew and became strong…” (Luke 2:40).
The Greek word Luke uses for grew means a continual process of increasing. Sometimes we mistakenly think this means a continual movement on a graph upward and to the right. But I’ll give you one instance where this is not the case—when we record someone’s height, we do so in feet not in years. In other words, we say someone is 6’4” tall, but we don’t say they are 6-years and 4-months fall. We understand there is a limit to that sort of growth.
What Luke is referring to is a different kind of continual increasing. All of us go through four quadrants as we learn:
- unconscious incompetence—we’re no good in an area but we don’t even know it
- conscious incompetence—we know that we’re no good in an area
- conscious competence—we’re good in an area but we still have to think about what we’re doing
- unconscious competence—we’ve gotten so good in an area that we no longer need to think about it
When Luke said Jesus grew, he meant not upward and to the right, but a continual cycle of learning what He didn’t know and increasing His competence in that area. When Luke said Jesus grew and became strong, he was saying that Jesus learned how to apply the lessons He was continually learning.
Second, in covering Christ’s next 18 years Luke says, “Jesus grew” (Luke 2:52), but he uses an entirely different word. This Greek word means to be hammered out, as a blacksmith hammers metal into shape. Notice that Jesus is not the One doing the hammering, but He is the One submitting to His Father’s hammering. He is letting God the Father shape Him into what He needs to be.
Luke says that Jesus grew in…
- …wisdom—mental health
- …stature—physical health
- …favor with God—spiritual health
- …favor with men—emotional (or social) health
In other words, Jesus was growing in a wholly healthy way. God wants us to be wholly healthy too. He wants us to continually allow Him to point out areas where we are lacking, and then submit to His guidance on how we can improve in those areas.
I’ll be exploring these four areas—mental, physical, spiritual and emotional—over the next few weeks. But in the meantime, why don’t you pray the prayer David prayed and ask God’s Spirit to search out any areas where you are falling short of optimal health. And then submit to God’s work of helping you get wholly healthy in every area of your life.