Perfect Purpose (Luke 2:52)

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Could you imagine if we celebrated Christmas every day? As we finish the final days of December and enter the cold winter months, not to mention the tough and trying year of 2020, we need something to look forward. Or, perhaps we need something to look backward. The key to life, faith, and joy is the wonder of the Christmas miracle. While many only reflect upon the meaning of Christmas once a year, Christians are to follow the example of Mary and perpetually ponder the incarnation and influence of Jesus (Lk 1:56; 2:19; 2:51).

Today we are finishing our series “Imperfect Christmas – Perfect Christ,” with the emphasis on the perfect purposes of Christ. While we do not have much information about the childhood of Jesus, Luke offers a brief account of Christ as a 12-year old boy. The development of Jesus is emphasized and offers us encouragement in the ways we can also grow spiritually.

Our text reflects two categories for our spiritual growth: faithfulness and fruitfulness.

EXAMINE           Luke 2:52       (Perfect Purpose)

Luke 2:41-52
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 favor with God and man.

Our purpose is to encourage faithful family life.

  • Joseph & Mary traveled to Jerusalem every year for pilgrimage and reflecting on God’s Passover rescue.  Jewish law required men to go each year to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover (Ex 23:14-17; 34:23; Dt 16:16). While, not everyone followed through each year, we learn that Joseph and Mary were faithful.
    • Faithfulness is the ability to follow directions, and regardless of how many detours, end up at the intended destination. We may not follow Jesus perfectly and likely will have some winding paths. But God’s grace guides us through the distractions and detours, so we end up where we belong. 
    • In changing seasons: winter (cold & challenging), spring (work), summer (enjoyment), fall (harvest & preparation).  
    • Swartz with @aol views it as loyal and stable.
    • Christianity doesn’t need pace-setters, just plodders.
    • Eugene Peterson calls it “a long obedience in the same direction.”
  • J & M return home but forgot Jesus! Can you imagine? The divine appointed couple to raise Jesus, loses the Son of God. Most parents can identify with the panic and frightened pursuit to find their lost child, but for three days!?! Further, we can speculate on the anxiety and anger between the married couple, as well as between the parents and their “perfect” son.
  • J & M should be admired because they trained Jesus in the Scriptures and stories of God because He was listening and asking questions; and “had to be in my Father’s house/business” (Lk 2:49).   
    • Deuteronomy 6 formal teaching and informal talking; – – – parents, guess which is most remembered?
    • Psalm 78:4-7 “we will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God.”
  • Learning comes by listening AND asking questions. SPBC Bible Groups are places to open our Bibles to learn (and ask questions) and open our lives to love others. If you only sit in rows and never in circles, I’m somewhat concerned for your spiritual growth.
    • I get the pandemic has hindered participation AT the building. But why have many not explored other ways to be connected, as if spiritual community were merely optional?
      • Lois in Brightview does multiple study groups bc of room capacity.
      • Open rooms in building
      • Online opportunities
  • à Parents, can’t recommend enough catechism online[1] / JSB / other recommendations.
  • J & M traveled with extended family and neighbors (2:44). Family is God’s #1 designed means of sanctification in our life. Don’t overlook or side-step necessary conversations (ex. me and my sister).  
  • Parents are primary disciplemakers.

Luke reports not just relatives but known acquaintances.

  • Taking walks in neighborhood leads to seeing people, learnings names, and discerning needs.  
  • At church, we should initiate convos with known friends but also new guests.
  • Church family provides: models of support & mentors to shape / milestones / ministry opportunities formal & informal.

Our purpose is to equip fruitful disciplemaking.

There are two aspects that stand out in the development of Jesus.

  1. Clarity.
    Theologians debate the omniscience of Jesus. Did child Jesus always know His identity and He would die on the cross for the sins of the world? While we cannot fully know what Jesus knew and when He knew it, we know Scripture represents full deity and full humanity of Jesus.
    1. Jesus, as a child, needed caretaking: from swaddling cloths to teaching school.
    1. Jesus got tired and hungry.
    1. Jesus was disappointed when betrayed and hurt emotionally and physically.
    1. “Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered” (Heb 5:9)
    1. “Jesus was made like us in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people… for because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Heb 2:17-18; 4:15).

In all, there came a point in Jesus’s life that He had profound clarity of His life and mission. He knew God was His Father and His mission was to do His will. Note also, there seems to be an order – relating to God as Father, then clarity of God’s will in your life.

  • Relating to God as Father has no parallel in the OT, nor any other religion beyond Christianity. In all the OT books, God is only referred to as Father fourteen times – and then rather impersonally as to a nation or generic sense, not individuals personally calling upon God as Father. YET, when Jesus enters the scene, all His prayers address God, and the Gospels record Him using this title for God more than sixty times.[2]
    • Jesus responded to parents, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” The implication was obvious that Jesus had clarity of purpose.


Moving from clutter to clarity is the greatest challenge for individuals, teams, organizations, and even churches.   For churches, comparison often confuses clarity. The constant temptation to compete with other churches and replicate ministries or style hinders churches from having confidence in their own makeup and fulfilling their unique mission within their local community.

  • @SPBC we are not _____. We don’t have the biggest _____ {ministry}, the best ______ {aesthetic/style}, the most _____ (whatever). But what we do have is WYSIWYG – authenticity and relationships. God wants to use this in our community, but we have to be willing to dedicate ourselves to the Father’s activity.

  • Chutzpah

Jesus not only had clarity but conviction and passion. His development is an example for our discipleship. Jesus increased (προκόπτω), or literally it means to advance aggressively.[3]

Jesus advanced in four areas:

  1. Wisdom. The last time in the Bible someone was full of wisdom was King Solomon. Luke’s noting of Jesus’s wisdom is recognition of His superior kingship. Proverbs tells us to passionately seek wisdom more than money or even like food to a starving soul.
    à Learn by experience, but you have to pay attention!
    à Treasure truth of God’s word (Ps 19:6ff; Prov 1-5)
    à Turn critics into coaches (Prov 9:9)
    à Walk with the wise (Ps 1; Prov 13:20; 27:17)
    à Pray for wisdom (James 1:5).

2. Stature. Stature relates to maturity and credibility. The Bible contrasts childish behavior vs child-like faith (Mt 18; cf. 1 Cor 13:11). A person can be a Christian for a long time but still immature, and contrast a newer Christian may exhibit maturity because of variety of life experiences and the sobriety of their faith. Maturity occurs through integrity – do you live what you say? Credibility in our faith means we are not compartmentalizing areas of Christ’s Lordship, so that others cannot easily pick apart our hypocrisy.

3. Favor with God. Favor (χάρις) is the grace of God that cannot be earned with good works, purchased with earthly riches, nor inherited from family or friend. Favor with God starts with trusting and treasuring Jesus, and is best evidenced in one’s relationship with humble faith and hunger for God’s word.
à Lord, increase our hunger… I won’t say out loud to increase our humility bc of 2020 😊, but we should meditate on Isaiah 66:2 “this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” YES, I know I’ve used this verse multiple times… it’s so relevant!

4. Favor with people. Luke gave an earlier summary and similar descriptor of growth in John’s life: “And the child grew and became strong in spirit and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel” (Lk 1:80). John was not described as having favor with people. John’s personality was prophetic but it was also a bit hostile – calling people snakes! Yet, Jesus is described as having favor with people to indicate His mission to seek and save the lost (Lk 19:10). 

à Truth & Grace Matrix. When we try to give one without the other, we get neither. Truth is not a weapon but a tool to win people. Likewise, grace is not a handout but a hand-up.
– Jesus and Levi (Lk 5)
– Jesus and woman of city (Lk 7:36, ff)
– Jesus and prodigals (Lk 15)
– Jesus and Zacchaeus (Lk 19)
– Jesus and Samaritan woman (Jn 4)
– Jesus and Peter (Jn 21)

APPLY/THINK

Jesus wants us to be faithful and fruitful. He wants us to have clarity and chutzpah… but most importantly, Jesus wants us to see His constancy. Jesus is our constant when we are inconsistent, uneven, and unfaithful.

  • Let’s refill our empty cups with restorative mercy, refreshing grace, and renewing love.
    • Here I Am To Worship
    • How Deep The Father’s Love For Us
    • You Are My All In All
    • He is Exalted

Last Sunday of 2020 – let’s renew ourselves to exalting Christ…


[1] https://growinggodlygenerations.files.wordpress.com/2020/07/training-to-trust-and-treasure-jesus_catechism-spbc.pdf

[2] Hughes, R. K. (1998). Preaching The Word: Luke chapter 2 (p.104).

[3] https://biblehub.com/greek/4298.htm

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