Helping Children Reach Their Full Potential: Raising Supernatural Children in a Natural World
When reading the story of Jesus as a child in Luke 2:40-52 the parallels of the His life to come jumps out throughout the passage. For those unfamiliar with the recount it reads as follows:
“40 And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. 41 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. 43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; 44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. 46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. 48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously. 49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. 51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
The recounts foretelling of the character and nature of Jesus Christ in adulthood are the following:
- Verse 40 – “He became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him.” 1 Corinthians 1:24 describes the adult Jesus as “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God”. In childhood Jesus excelled in wisdom. It didn’t just come upon Him at His baptism by John the Baptist for He had it (wisdom) since childhood. We can also see that the grace of God continued in adulthood with our Savior as John 1:14 tells us “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Again, this grace had been with Him since childhood.
- Verse 47- 48 “…all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers …they were amazed.” Our Savior had an early start in dealing with the religious zealots & intellects of His time and this served as preparation for His ministry. Matthew 13:54 records “When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works?”
- Verse 52 “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” All recounts written of Christ’s ministry tells of His Godly wisdom being an instrumental part of His supernatural ministry of love. This wisdom increased His stature in the eyes of those in high authority (i.e. the Centurion – Matthew 8:5-10, Pontus Pilot – John 19:6-12, Nicodemus – John 3:1-5, etc.) and those society had labeled as lowly such as the blind beggar – Luke 18:35-43 and the woman at the well who ran and told others “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:29).
Other shadows that tell of our Savior’s ministry to come include:
- Verse 42 “And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.” Jesus became a “son of the law” at age12 and was obligated by tradition to observe the commandments. Not only did Jesus observe the law but He was the fulfillment of the law as Romans 10:4 tells us that “Christ is the culmination of the law for righteousness to every one that believe.” because “He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.” (1 John 3:5). How was our Savior the fulfillment of the law? “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Our Messiah was “…One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning” (Hebrews 4:15). He is the unspotted Lamb of God who has taken away the sins of this world through His death on the cross.
- Verse 46 “… it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.” It was on the 3rd day Christ rose from the gave and was seen again;1 Corinthians 15:4 records that “He was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” Also, Christ was a teacher and taught in the temples as well as in the cities, and along the countrysides; “for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Matthew 7:29). Our Savior had been in training for this since childhood.
- Verse 49 “…He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” From childhood our Lord and Savior knew who He was and the work He had to do. As an adult He echoed the same and stood in His identity & purpose as it is recored in John 8:29 “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” What an awesome Savior we have!
It’s not by chance that this passage of the early life of Christ was recorded in the Bible for all time. What was true for Jesus in his childhood (to adulthood) is still true for all children today. The nature and character of children are developed in childhood. Various studies and research on personality development reiterates this truth (i.e. the general personality of a child is formed around age 5). We (as parents, care givers, teachers, etc.) not only have the ability to help shape the hearts, minds, and identities of children in our care but we also have the ability to shape their values, worldviews, help develop their natural God-given abilities, and point them in the direction of how to use those abilities in adulthood. What we pour into children in their youth will always come to fruition in time – be it good or bad.
The word of God tell us to “train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). The Dake Bible commentary on this verse states “The idea seems to be that when he comes to this opening of the way, give him a complete series of instructions on every step he should take. Drill him thoroughly on how to perform his duties, how to escape danger, and how to appropriate the blessings of the way. Stamp these lessons deep on his soul and lead him to practice them until they are part of his life and nature. Bathe him in prayer and instill the fear of God into him and he stall not depart from it.”
In revisiting the passage we see that Christ thrived in spirit and abilities as a child. Further examination of His parents (Joseph, Christ’s earthly father and His mother Mary) gives wonderful insights into how He was parented and groomed to be a supernatural boy who would one day live out the most supernatural ministry on this earth. Three insights we have into this are:
- Verse 41 “His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover”. His parents taught him their faith and the substance of it in their consistent observance of their religious practices.
- Verse 48 “So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” Although upset and exasperated Mary did not harshly chastise her Son but maintained restraint showing Christ mercy and grace.
- Verse 49 – 50 “And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.” His parents gave our Savior an appropriate degree of leeway to express himself (i.e. He was assertive but respectful, well spoken, and gifted in intelligence).
- Verse 51- 52 “Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Joseph and Mary continued to maintain their position of authority over their Son but also nurtured, developed, and disciplined Him. Again it is by no coincidence that the passage in Luke opens and closes with statements of the wisdom and the grace (favor) of God being upon the Christ child.
What we can learn from this passage is that fostering an environment which goes beyond meeting a child’s basic need will propel them in reaching their highest potential. Building healthy intimacy in love, support, encouragement, and discipline provides children with the stability and structure they need to grow. Instilling a since of self-worth and value in children gives them needed confidence and they’ll be able to see themselves as God sees them.
Protecting children in what they are exposed to – protecting their eyes in what they see, protecting their ears in what they hear, and protecting their minds in what they learn and are conditioned to will keep them safe. The Lord has given all children wonderful gifts and abilities to be used for His glory. Getting to know your child’s nature, disposition, strengths, weakness, and natural God-given talents helps identify their natural bent and you’ll be better able to assist them in developing their gifts.
Most importantly, pointing children to a supernatural relationship with the living Jesus Christ will give them eternal life in the now and the here to come. Living out your faith (i.e. your relationship with Christ) in the presence of your child will plant the seeds that will one day bear abundant harvest in their lives. Teaching your child who our Savior is and who they are in Him will give them freedom to be who He made them to be. Teaching your child the Word of God and the substance of His word will give them the solid footing needed to walk the road of life.
People of God let us help the children of God reach their highest potential! Our kids are hungry for Truth. Our Savior is calling us (i.e the parents, care givers, teachers, etc.) to a higher standard! Let us train up, raise up, and lift up our children to be all that He (the God of the universe) has made them to be …supernatural.