“Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.“ (Luke 2:40–52)
Christmas is not quite over – at least not on the church’s calendar! Christmas is a twelve day celebration, beginning on Christmas Eve and ending Tuesday evening – 12th Night. Wednesday, we begin Epiphany when we remember the coming of the Wise Men. During these days we remember Jesus’ birth, circumcision, presentation in the temple and His visit to the temple at Twelve years old. Believe it or not, that’s all we know about the childhood of Jesus. Lots of people would like to know more about it so they kind of make things up. The Gnostics wrote gospels that sound kind of like comic books to us. There is Jesus making clay pigeons and bringing them to life. There’s the time Jesus knocked a friend off the roof while playing. When blamed for it, he raised the friend from the dead to tell Mary and Joseph that he didn’t do it. Today, New Age writers talk about Jesus going to India to study under Hindu gurus. None of this is true, of course, but you do kind of wonder what it would be like to grow up with God in the flesh, don’t you!
So, Why don’t the gospel writers tell us more? Two of the gospels don’t even talk about Jesus’ birth and youth! The real reason is that Jesus, while no normal child, grew up just like everyone else. There’s nothing to tell because He blended in with the rest of His family and neighbors.
Jesus, it turns out, is not a cartoon superhero. He doesn’t do selfies or have a PR team. As exciting or thrilling these characters are, we can’t really relate to them. They don’t share our struggles or life experiences. They don’t share our emotions or temptations. When life gets tough, they can just bail out. Superheroes really don’t die. We all die.
The Good News in Christmas is that Jesus became a real, flesh-and-blood man. As the book of Hebrews tells us, He was in every way like us, except He didn’t sin. (Hebrews 4:15) He is God, but He set aside His powers for the most part and lived like us. Jesus obeyed His Heavenly Father and humbled Himself to be born a man. He lived a perfect life for our sake. He grew hungry, tired and worked hard like all of us. He suffered for our sake and die to pay the price of our sins. When He rose from the dead, He broke the power of sin and death, won the forgiveness of sins for us and earned life and salvation for all who trust in Him.
Sometimes we think of Jesus as watching us from a distance. But nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus is still God-with-Us, by our side on the field of battle, with His good gifts and Spirit. Every thime we receive the Lord’s Supper, He is there to give us His own Body and Blood.
So, we are really never alone. When we suffer, He is there. When we are filled with joy, He is there. When we need strength to face temptation, and, when we face death itself, He is there to bring us home to be with our Heavenly Father and all the saints departed this life. Best of all, He will return one day to bring a final end to sin, suffering, grief and pain. He will wipe every tear from our eyes, raise our bodies from the grave and transform them to be like Him. On that day, we will know that He is truly God-With-Us, for we will see Him and live with Him forever.