Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 4 Study # 1
Thesis: Luke considered the growth of Jesus to be a crucial issue for the understanding of his reader(s).
Introduction: This morning, as we begin our study of the fourth paragraph in the second chapter of Luke's record of his perspective of Jesus, I want you to think of a cul-de-sac...a dead end street which requires a person to retrace his steps if he would go further. There are a couple of cul-de-sacs in the thinking of most people regarding the text before us that will absolutely prevent them from understanding if they hold on to them. The first six of Luke's opening words in this fourth paragraph are exactly the same as the first six of his closing words in the fifth paragraph of chapter one. This cannot be an accident, so we must consider why it would be so that Luke would deliberately call our attention to the obvious parallelism between the "child" of 1:80 and this "child" in 2:40. What is Luke's purpose in telling Theophilus of the similarity between John and Jesus as "children"?
September 18, 2005
- I. The Nature of the Parallelism.
- A. Though the first six words are arranged oppositely in terms of their place in the paragraphs, they are exactly the same and are exactly in the same order.
- 1. Our first cul-de-sac: misunderstanding Luke's "point" in his organization.
- 2. The "de/kai" "de/de" distinction between 2:40-41 and 1:80-2:1.
- 3. These six words are at the end of the "John" material (he does not show up again for thirty years).
- 4. These six words are at the beginning of the "Jesus as the Father's Child" material (the words introduce the narrative of the "astonishing Child Jesus" -- 2:43 and 2:47 -- who questions Mary's lack of understanding that He was to be "in the things of His Father").
- B. After the first six words there is a deliberate shift.
- 1. John is presented in terms of his need to grow strong in respect to his walk by the Spirit and his isolation in the wilderness.
- 2. Jesus, on the other hand, is presented in terms of His need to grow strong by means of wisdom and the input of the grace of God.
- C. Thus, the parallelism is designed to highlight the overall Plan of a forerunner/Redeemer while simultaneously making sure that we understand that the participants in that Plan are different from each other and have different tasks.
- 1. The forerunner will accomplish his task by the Spirit of God.
- a. This is necessary because of the nature of man and the nature of the task.
- 1) Man is inherently incapacitated.
- 2) The task (affecting men's hearts) is inherently beyond man in any case.
- b. This is necessary because of the overall biblical thesis that the only good is from God -- Father, Son, or Holy Spirit -- and, in this case, it is the Spirit. [Note Luke 18:19 compared with Matthew 12:33.]
- 2. The Redeemer will accomplish His task by superior wisdom and grace.
- a. This is necessary because of the nature of the Man as well as His task.
- 1) The "problem" was that it was "Man" who fell; thus, it must be "Man" Who triumphs.
- 2) The task (accomplishing redemption) is applying Himself to Law so that He might apply Grace to those He would redeem. He is to be the conduit of Grace to men. To be the conduit, the Grace must be His before it is theirs.
- b. This is necessary because of the overall biblical thesis of adversarial deception (a "wisdom" issue) in respect to the goodness of the God Who would redeem. [Note 1 Timothy 4:1 compared with Genesis 3.]
- II. The Particulars of the First Six Words.
- A. The first issue is the use of "child".
- 1. Interestingly, many seem to want to attach "age" significance to the word in spite of the fact that it has no "age" implications whatsoever.
- a. The word is used of people as young as newborns and as old as grown adult men.
- b. This is a classic illustration of heading down the wrong path and seeking understanding where there is none (our second cul-de-sac: a dead end street that we should never have been on in the first place).
- 2. The issue in "child" is absolutely huge.
- a. According to Luke 9:48, this issue is critical to the huge issue of getting into God's eternal kingdom.
- 1) There is nothing more crucial to man's interests than where he will spend his eternity.
- a) There are, after all, two options.
- b) It is, after all, forever.
- 2) Any text that addresses how one might exercise the "heaven" option is, by this issue, made into a critical text.
- 3) This text says pointedly that "receiving God" is tied directly to "receiving a child".
- b. According to Luke 18:16-17, this issue is even more crucial than we thought because the issue of being rejected from entrance into the Kingdom is tied to this issue.
- 1) In 18:16 the nature of the Kingdom is established as being "of children".
- 2) In 18:17 the rejection of the Kingdom as "of children" will result in the ejection of the rejector from the "heaven" option.
- c. According to Hebrews 2:13-14, there is no deliverance from the power of the adversary apart from a solid understanding of the "child" thesis.
- d. And, according to Acts 3:13; 3:26; 4:27; and 4:30, Jesus is called the "Child" of God in both the preaching of the Gospel as well as in the prayers of the saints to God.
- e. Fifth, the typical distortion of the "child" thesis into a morphing of the words into some kind of "justification by faith" dogma is our third dead-end cul-de-sac on a street we should have never been on in the first place. It is not our job to twist the words of Scripture into a compatibility with our dogma; it is our job to twist our dogma into a compatibility with Scripture.
- f. And, finally, the issues of "child" are clearly two.
- 1) The first, and most crucial issue, is the attitude of the "child's" parent. In many places where this term is used illustratively, the "parent" is frantic about the child's well-being [Note John 4:49.]
- 2) The second, and most fundamental corollary issue, is the attitude of the "child" toward the parent. It is the attitude of this paragraph before us: "How is it that you did not know that I must be in my Father's things?"
- 3. The Point: both John and Jesus (forerunner and Redeemer) are legitimate products of the Kingdom as it is -- Children.
- B. The second issue is the necessities that rest upon this "Child".
- 1. He had to "grow".
- a. The word means to become larger by the inherent processes involved.
- b. The clear implication is that the task cannot be accomplished by Jesus as the "infant" Child as opposed to the "adult" Child.
- 2. He had to "be made strong".
- a. There is an inherent weakness in infant Children...they cannot handle the tasks of adult Children.
- b. Jesus was only going to be able to handle the divinely appointed task for which He was presented by Joseph and Mary in the Temple if He grew in His identity as "Thy Holy Child"...the Child Who was totally committed to the Parent's "things".
- C. The third issue is the method of the growth unto strength.
- 1. His "growth unto strength" was rooted in a constant ("being filled" as a present tense, passive participle) filling with wisdom.
- 2. His growth into strength "by wisdom" was rooted in a continuous presence of Grace from God (the ablative sense of "Source").
- III. The Conclusion: God was totally committed to His Child because He was also totally committed to His Children.