God’s Grace Upon Children

There are two models of conversion to the Christian faith portrayed in the pages of the New Testament. Saul, an adult, committed to his own faith (Judaism) encounters the risen Christ while on a religious crusade. His conversion and repeated testimony later in Acts typically illustrates an adult conversion. Some men and women with no religious background are brought to faith in Jesus Christ and experience God’s saving grace having already lived for many years. In contrast, others like young Timothy, have known the holy Scriptures from infancy and can barely remember when they first came to hear of Jesus Christ.

In Luke 2:39-40 Luke portrays the human parents of Jesus returning to Nazareth to more ‘normal’ living (if such was possible with the Son of God and Son of Man in the house!).

“When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.”

A few truths to consider –
1) Jesus fulfilled the Law of God from birth through his entire life. As Paul notes in Galatians 4, Jesus was born “under the law” and was subject to the regulations required under the Mosaic covenant. The Law required specific sacrifices, specific processes for life events as an act of restoration, repentance and obedience to Yahweh, Israel’s God. Joseph and Mary were devout in their faith and kept the requirements of God’s law.

2) Jesus returned to Galilee to a small community, that of Nazareth, where his father returned to carpentry and his mother took up the serious task of caring for a newborn. We have just these few verses to portray for us almost 12 years of the life of Jesus. Life went back to its regular routines and they settled home with, I’m sure, the usual round of small town ‘gossip’ being spread about them. People have their ‘opinions’ about young women who are found to ‘be with child’ and typically pass severe judgment upon them.

3) Jesus grew – He was not born as an adult but as a baby and his parents witnessed the physical and spiritual progress he made. He grew physically. Although GOD is omnipotent, Jesus ‘became strong.’ He grew in wisdom, though He was the “all wise GOD.” He experienced grace, though GOD is the God of all grace.
.
The process of growth is gradual, steady, and at times painful. Children grow and develop at a different pace and parents usually keep track. Photo albums (at least mental pictures) would track the changes from year to year. What was He becoming? What would He accomplish? Why had He come? What was God’s plan in all of this? These questions would require many years before they would be answered to the satisfaction of His parents. Just like parents of young children, Joseph and Mary, gave themselves to the task of child-raising.

Application
1) What a blessing to have parents who took God word so seriously.
2) Growth – physical and spiritual may be tracked and should be noted by responsible parents.
3) What a blessing to see children making wise choices!
4) How amazing to experience God’s grace as a child. Some of us have been kept from destructive evil behaviours by experiencing God’s grace in early years. For this we should give God thanks and not resent the fact that we have not tasted the “forbidden fruit” of sin.
Take time to pray for the children in your circle of influence that they may experience early all that God has for them.

{The painting is that of “The Holy Family” and was completed in 1650}

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