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Spiritual Maturity

Jesus had a spiritual maturity beyond his years. Luke 2 records the time when, at age twelve, Mary and Joseph found him in the temple or, as he said, “In my Father’s house” (v49).
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When we look at the language describing Jesus’ maturity, we can also see how applicable his example is to the ecclesia. First, in verse 40, we read,

“And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.”

the ecclesia needs to grow in Christ

Notice the keywords here; he grew, became strong, and was filled with wisdom. Then, in verse 52,

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”

The keyword here is stature, meaning that he was growing in maturity.

The apostle Paul talks about the maturity of the body of Christ, the ecclesia, in Ephesians 3-4, and he uses the same keywords used in Luke 2. The whole section, from the end of chapter 3 to midway through chapter 4, talks about how the ecclesia needs to grow in Christ. For instance,

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Eph. 4:15).

Jesus became strong, and Paul says of the ecclesia,

“that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Eph. 3:16).

Jesus was filled with wisdom, and Paul prays that the ecclesias might “be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:19). He continues that theme in chapter 4 when talking about the stature of the ecclesia,

“until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).

What God is looking for is maturity in our understanding and teaching.

Why does Luke mention Jesus’ growing maturity? In between verses 40 and 52, he was

“in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” (v46).

Those teachers and their followers would be his adversaries later in his ministry. In Ephesians, Paul says of God working with the ecclesia, “he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers” (Eph. 4:11).

What God is looking for is maturity in our understanding and teaching. Why? Because we face similar adversaries to the Lord Jesus Christ. In verse 14, Paul writes,

“so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”

It’s easy to get swept along by things other people say

No doubt the teachers Jesus discussed things with in the temple were intelligent men, steeped in the Scriptures and eloquent in their ability to explain their understanding of it. But, as Jesus’ ministry highlights, they were wrong. It’s easy to get swept along by things other people say, whether they are atheists trying to persuade us that the Bible is full of myths, or those within Christendom saying something contrary to our understanding of first principle doctrine. We can’t deal with such situations unless we have followed the pattern of the maturity of our Lord. We need to grow, be ever more filled with God’s wisdom and become strong in our faith. Otherwise, we will be carried about by every wind of doctrine.

Richard Morgan
Simi Hills, CA

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