In verse 40, when Jesus was still very young, Luke said, “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” Then in the last verse of our text, verse 52, Luke wrote, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” These two statements essentially say that Jesus matured physically, spiritually, and intellectually, and sandwiched between verses 40 and 52 is the account of Jesus in the temple at the age of 12.
If we pay attention to what God is doing in our lives, I believe we will discover that God prepares us for what is coming before are even aware it is coming. Often, it is only when we look back that we see and understand that God is always two steps ahead of any problem or challenge that the enemy tried to put in our path.
I remember watching old science fiction shows where the aliens arrive on planet earth and the first thing they said when they encountered any lifeform was, “Take me to your leader.” When the magi arrived in Jerusalem, they were indeed looking for their leader, only they did not go to Herod. Instead, they were looking for one whose star they saw rising in the east. They were looking for the real King of Israel.
How do we sustain our commitment to looking up for our Redeemer in times like these? We do it the same way Simeon did it. He kept believing because he had a promise from the Holy Spirit, so he faithfully came to the temple believing that this could be the day. Day after day, week after week, year after year passed, but still, Simeon came believing and expecting. And then on this day, Luke said Simeon “came by the Spirit into the temple.” We need to be sensitive to the Spirit because when the Spirit is prompting us to go, to worship, and to believe, we need to get up and go. After all, this could be the day we get our breakthrough!
Have you ever felt like God has more for you than you are currently experiencing, but there seems to be some kind of barrier keeping you from fully achieving your Divine destiny? The Bible tells us that God has plans for our lives. God told Israel, “For I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11). Likewise, David wrote in Psalm 37:27, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.” In the New Testament, Jesus invites us to follow Him because He has come so that we might have life and that more abundantly (Jn 10:10).
Studying this, it occurred to me that even when things in our lives can feel like frustrating inconveniences, whether required by our place of employment or dictated by our own government, God has already factored these things into our preferred future. Therefore, instead of complaining (like I too often do), it would be better to excitedly anticipate what God has in store for us next in our journey.
Matthew doesn’t tell us how or when Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant. Still, it must have been shocking news resulting in many sleepless nights as he wrestled with his love for Mary on one hand, and the letter of law on the other hand, which said he could make a public example of her and humiliate her for what appeared to be her unfaithfulness. Verse 20 says that as Joseph was wrestling with his emotions and the decisions he had to make, he had a dream.
Studying this passage, the first step I see in the path to purpose is “be prepared.” The Prophet Isaiah said the Messiah would be born to a virgin (Is 7:14), and Mary had maintained her purity. If she had compromised her purity for a moment of pleasure, she would have forfeited the honor that was to be hers. Once we embrace the idea that we have a God-given purpose, we need to prepare.
What is the longest you’ve ever prayed for something before God answered your prayer? When year after year goes by and it doesn’t seem like God is moving, at what point should we stop praying? I’d say if our prayers are in agreement with the Word of God and we are pursuing the will of God, then we should never stop praying. You may ask, “What if it takes years and it seems like time is running out on the possibility of an answer?” So what? Is anything too hard for God? Is God limited by time or distance?