Blank Space

Today’s reading:  Luke 2

Luke 2 begins with the birth of Jesus, and ends when he was 12 years old.  Luke 3 picks up when Jesus is 30 years old and ready to begin his ministry.  Do you find it interesting that the blank space between the chapters covers 18 years?  Nothing about Jesus’ teenage years and twenties is recorded here.

As I was preparing for this post, I began to reflect on my life between the ages of 12 and 30.  A lot of growing up and maturing happened over the course of those 18 years.  During that time I finished my core education, began a career and married my true love.  Some of my choices were good, some were bad, but almost all of them were learning experiences.  I’m pretty glad a transcript of my teenage and early adult years does not exist.  In fact, I wish I couldn’t remember some those “learning” experiences!

Have you ever wondered why the Bible doesn’t account for what happened during that time in Jesus’ life?  Do you think he was impulsive, emotional and smart-mouthed just like I was at that age?  It’s hard to imagine.  Here’s what I do know for sure – unlike me, Jesus lived through those years without sin.  Not just without getting caught, but entirely without sin!  Even so, I think Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, spent those 18 years learning and maturing just like I did.  Based on the last two verses of Luke 2, here’s what I see in the blank space –

Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:51-52).

Jesus grew in wisdom – until he was 30, Jesus lived an ordinary life in the ordinary town of Nazareth.  As a carpenter’s son, he learned a lot about earning a living and dealing with people.  Have you ever noticed that after Luke 2, the Bible says nothing else about Jesus’ father Joseph?  More than likely, Joseph died during the eighteen year gap between Luke 2 and 3.  Jesus and his brothers would have taken on the responsibility to provide for their family.  Going to school, running errands, doing the laundry and cleaning house are likely some of the routine responsibilities Jesus and his brothers would have taken on in their father’s absence.  As God’s son, Jesus’ already had all the knowledge he needed. What he gained during this time was experience and connection.  By living through the cadence of ordinary life, he learned to how to connect with people through their triumphs and temptations.  Jesus’ growth and maturity during this time was purposeful, effectively preparing him for his ministry.

Obedience put Jesus in favor with God and man – verse 51 tells us Jesus returned to Nazareth and was obedient to his parents.  The story of Jesus in the temple at the end of this chapter was the first glimpse of Jesus acknowledging his identity with God.

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house” (Luke 2:49)?

Jesus knew his earthly ministry was not to begin until he was age 30, but he submitted to his earthly parents for another eighteen years while he prepared for it.  It is hard to believe God’s plan for the King of kings and Lord of lords was to come to earth to save his people, but live in obscurity for the first 30 years. That seems like such a long time!  Can you imagine Jesus, who truly was smarter than his parents, choosing to be obedient when he probably knew a better way most of the time?  Jesus wasn’t just obedient to God’s plan, he was also obedient to God’s timing.

Growing in wisdom and being obedient to God’s plan molds as shapes who we are far beyond our teenage and young adult years.  Today, I challenge you to embrace God’s plan for your life.  Invite him to work through your faithfulness, and learn to be patient with his timing.  He knows what’s best for us!