“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”
It’s a small little verse tucked in to the end of Luke 2 (verse 52) but contains a wealth of information. And a lot of time. It’s the only verse we have that tells us about Jesus’ adolescent years before we see His ministry begin in adulthood. (Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong about that — I didn’t truly research it). It’s a verse that I’ve been reflecting on this week as the youngest Mitton moved on from elementary school.
School (albeit the strange form of online-homeschool-semi-vacation-time-filling-preparatory-work as it has been for the last few months) is now completed for the summer. Our youngest was supposed to have graduation ceremony from our elementary school, which ends in grade 6, and move on to middle or junior high. Covid-19 prevented any kind of formal celebration — but that is another muse. For me, it was the end of an era. All four of our kids attended the same elementary school, and we parents were quite active in all of it’s goings ons — bake sales, track and field events, farm visits, pizza days, talent shows, concerts, parent teacher interviews and the school council. I’ve been on our elementary school council for almost 20 years… and now it’s done.
This past week, my current council blessed me with a “drive by” parade and a flood of well wishes and tokens of their thanks for my service. At first, the introvert in me was completely taken aback, and thoroughly embarrassed — the principal and vice principal, administrators and even key teachers showed up on my front lawn. (To the absolute detriment to my children’s self preservations — now the teachers know where and what our house looks like! The horror!) Alas, after the initial shock, I, well, I “had a moment”. Private thoughts and personal memories of each of our children’s first days, struggles and moments of joy flooded back as I reflected later. I, too, met new friends, shared highlights, valley lows and packed a whack load of lunches. I learned about other cultures, set goals, experienced frustration, joy and pride as I watched as my children also grow in “wisdom and stature”.
I don’t know what education looked like in Jesus’ day. I don’t know if Mary homeschooled or if education was at the temple or under Joseph’s care in the shop. The Bible verse tells us Jesus grew in wisdom — which means He persevered through experiences that lead Him to make decisions, to grow, to debate, and to decide in which direction to move forward. He grew in favour with God and man — which means He had to study the Torah and be taught foundational principles, as well as participate in traditions and festivals. It means He made new friends and endured teasing, perhaps even bullying, by peers. I’m sure He had chores and bookbags and homework. I’m sure Mary baked for neighbourhood kids and shooed them out to play. Did she have to send two healthy snacks and hope Jesus didn’t lose His indoor sandals? Did Jesus get frustrated learning how to knot the perfect tzitzit or did Joseph have “take your kid to work” day?
It’s a small little verse tucked away at the end of our “Christmas story” in Luke 2. For me, it’s packed with almost 20 years of memories of my own kids and many “I wonders” about another child who grew, yes, but yet had such a special mission. Time has a cruel way of never standing still. As my youngest “moves on” and I am forced to move with her, I will continue to pray and trust that we will all find favour with God and man. Enjoy your summer vacations, my friends!