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Sermon from Luke 2: 39-52

Doupu Kom

00:00 / 45:32

The Wisdom of Jesus

Luke 2:39-52

We’ve seen Jesus introduced and we’ve seen Him introduced to the meek of the earth.

Zacharias, Elizabeth, Mary, the shepherds, Simeon, and Anna, have all seen and testified about this child. They know He is the coming Savior of the world.

So this morning we are going to look at a very interesting passage. We are going to study the entire adolescent life of Jesus.

Matthew gives us a little and the rest is found here in Luke.

Matthew tells us that sometime around the time that Christ was 18 month to two years of age, that magi from the east visited and then that He spent some time in exile in Egypt.

And the other adolescent truth is found here in Luke, and in this passage it contains the only spoken words of Jesus prior to His ministry. In Luke 2:42 we find Jesus as a 12 year old boy.

We won’t see Him again until Luke 3:23 when He is a 30 year old man.

Furthermore that means that everything God wanted us to know about the adolescent life of Jesus can be found in this passage.

Had God wanted you to know anything more about this period it would have been included, but this is all God desired that we know.

And that alone makes this passage tremendously important.

And the truth we see about Him is His wisdom, (v. 40) “filled with wisdom” (v. 52) “increasing in wisdom”

Before we do, let me just take a moment and clarify what wisdom is.

Firstly, a common saying today is that “Wisdom comes with AGE”, but that is not always true. Experience does come with age, but not necessarily wisdom.

We find many men in Scripture that age had no effect on, they were just as foolish in their golden years as they were while younger.

  • We could think of Saul, who actually started out good or wise but seemed to become more foolish as his life went on.

  • We might even say about Solomon, the wisest man ever, that if anything he was less wise in his later years than early on.

Secondly, some think that wisdom comes with KNOWLEDGE. In other words, you find wisdom in a university. I don’t disregard the importance of knowledge as it pertains to wisdom, but knowledge alone DOES NOT make you wise. Knowledge alone merely makes you accountable.

But, you measure someone’s wisdom by watching their actions. Wisdom is seen when a person rightly acts upon the knowledge and experience they possess. If you know the facts and don’t act accordingly you are called a fool. If you know the facts and apply it to life you are considered wise.

For Example, in Matthew 7:24-27: 24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

So it is not age or knowledge, but rather obedience that renders one wise.

Knowledge of God is important, but it is obedience to that knowledge that makes a person wise. And this morning that is very clearly seen in Jesus.

More than just His ability to win an argument, I want you to see the tremendous wisdom of Jesus. And so this morning let us look at the wisdom of Jesus.

Three things I want you to see.

  1. HIS WISDOM DEVELOPED (Luke 2:39-40)

And so our text picks up after the initial birth of Jesus.

“39 And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.

Luke 2:22-24 “And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD”), and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, ” A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS.”

And then in verse 40 we have the first 12 years of Jesus' life. So if you want to know what went on during His childhood, here is the entire record.

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

We most certainly see the HUMAN ASPECT of Jesus here. He “grew”. If there is one characteristic that all children have in common, this is it. They grow up, often in a hurry. He had become fully man, and as such He had to grow up just like every other human being.

Scripture also says that he BECAME STRONG. This can be seen in a physical sense, but the text seems to indicate it MORE IN A SPIRITUAL SENSE, since it goes on to reveal how He became strong and that is by “filled with wisdom”.

And remember, that is NOT simply a knowledge thing. It doesn’t say Jesus became “smart”, it says that Jesus became “strong”.

And He did so by “increasing in wisdom” that means He was routinely taking what He learned and applying it and obeying it.

Deuteronomy 4:5-6  See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 6 Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’

Wisdom is applying and obeying God’s word.

THIS IS WHAT JESUS DID. And we see THE BLESSING His wisdom provided. “And the favor of God was upon him.”

God was pleased with Jesus, God bestowed favor on the child, because even as a child He took pleasure in doing what God commanded.

And let me just say even to the kids in here for a moment that wisdom is not limited to the aged. A child who does what his parents command is a wise child.

Certainly Jesus was this.

Proverbs 15:5 “A fool rejects his father’s discipline, But he who regards reproof is sensible.”

And so we see the first twelve years of His life is characterized by developing wisdom. He was learning and perfecting the art of submission and obedience. He was growing into the man God intended Him to be.

His Wisdom Developed

2. HIS WISDOM DISPLAYED (Luke 2:41-50)

And of course this is the longest section of the text, for it tells a story that reveals to us the true nature of Jesus’ wisdom. So let’s first work through the story.

“41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom.”

Every Jewish man who lived within 15 miles of Jerusalem was commanded to attend the Passover. Others hoped to attend once in their lifetime.

Nazareth was about 80 miles and so the fact that they went every year indicates the devotion of Joseph and Mary. (Probably a 4 day walk)

Furthermore it was only commanded of men to go, not women, and so the fact that Mary continued to go says something of her devotion.

And when Jesus became 12 He went with them. (A man at 13, Jesus was on the brink of manhood). We can only imagine what sort of impact this Passover would have had on Jesus, knowing what His purpose was and what this Passover looked forward to.

43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances”

So they stayed the full number of days, which was 8 days from Sabbath to Sabbath and then they started home. (again speaks to their dedication since most only stayed 2 days) And because in a caravan the women walked in front of the men to keep them from getting separated, Mary and Joseph each assumed that Jesus was with the other.

And at night when they started getting ready for bed, it became apparent that Jesus was not with them.

Instead, “the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem.” He wasn’t disobeying His parents, He just hadn’t had enough of the glorious event and continued to seek out truth and to apply it. But that’s not how his mother saw it…

“45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him.46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. ”

“three days” – one day traveling away, one day traveling back, and one day searching Jerusalem.

And when they found Him we saw again His desire for wisdom. He was listening to the teachers and asking them questions. This was not a debate, this was a 12 year old boy seeking out the perspectives of the teachers of the Law.

THE AMAZING PART is that this 12 years old boy has been 3 days without His parents and doesn’t seem the least bit stressed. What did He eat? Where did He sleep?

His mind is truly on spiritual things.

 47 “And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. ”

They had the common response to Jesus, and that was amazement. This kid understood God. So we certainly see His knowledge on display.


48 “And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?””

And so after 3 anxious days Mary and Joseph find Jesus and Mary is in typical mother fashion. She is confused or agitated. “Son, why have You treated us so (this way) ?”

How often we ask such questions of God when in reality it is only because we cannot see what God is up to.

“Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.”

And that turns out to be a massive statement on behalf of Mary because it causes a very serious remark from Jesus.

 “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?”

There is a tremendous enlightenment from Jesus here. Mary just scolded Him for causing His father anxiety. Jesus responded by reminding Mary that He is in His Father’s will.

It seems that Mary was forgetting that Jesus’ Father was God, and that Jesus would put His will first at all times.

Remember that Simeon gave a harsh prophecy to Mary after Jesus' birth.

Luke 2:34-35 “And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

Here Mary is feeling the sword. Jesus would do God’s will even if it was against her own. This is where His wisdom was on greatest display.

FIRST OF ALL: Jesus knows who He is. This is very significant. In the ministry we see it all the time. Jesus knew who He was before anyone else and no one else had to tell Him, He was aware of it. His wisdom was on full display here.

SECONDLY: Knowing who He was, shaped the things that He did. He had to be about His Father’s business. Do you understand that this wisdom is the very wisdom that would guide Jesus through his entire ministry?

  • How many times did the crowd want to turn Him into their own personal miracle worker?

  • John 6 reveals how they want to make Him King.

  • Matthew 16 shows Peter trying to discourage Him from the cross.



In the Garden Peter tries to deliver Him with the sword.

Matthew 26:52-54 “Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? “How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?”

It was the wisdom of Jesus to always be about His Father’s mission and to walk in obedience to it.

50 “And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them..”

Certainly Mary and Joseph hadn’t forgotten that Jesus was virgin born, or the circumstances surrounding His birth.

What they didn’t understand was His great wisdom, that even at 12 years old He was only concerned with doing His heavenly Father’s will.

Even at age 12 His wisdom had already surpassed those that raised Him and those that questioned Him.

For 12 years He developed His wisdom and now His wisdom is on display.

And then comes the truly amazing part.


“51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.”

And there we have in one verse years 13 through 30. 18 years of His life summarized right there by one word. SUBMISSION

Wisdom isn’t about what you know, it’s about what you do with what you know. And despite the fact that Jesus really was wiser than His parents He obeyed God’s word to honor His father and mother.

We know Jesus was wise, not because of what He knew, but because of what He did with what He knew.

Which is why we read: 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man”

By age 12 He was already wiser than those around Him and yet He continued to increase in wisdom. For the next 18 years Jesus just kept growing in wisdom.

  • His education continued.

  • He experienced every temptation and overcame it because of His intense commitment to the Father.

Jesus didn’t just show up on earth as a 33 year old man, die on a cross and then return.

  • He had to live this life.

  • He had to face temptations.

  • He had to overcome struggles.

These 30 years would be the foundation for His 3 years of ministry. And because of this intense desire for wisdom, he continued to have God’s favor on His life.

“and in favor with God and men.”

Because He sought to know and obey, because He always showed wisdom, He continued to have God’s favor in His life.

And so from Jesus we learn a tremendous amount about wisdom.

  • It is not about what you know…

  • It is not about what you have experienced…

How many people here have kids that are smarter than you?

If your kids are anywhere between the ages of 12 and 19 it is certain that they are. Their words, their mannerisms, they’re responses indicate that they think they are smarter than you.

But that is not how Jesus revealed wisdom. He was already wiser than anyone around,

  • But did He rub it in their face?

  • Did He take over the household?

  • Did He role His eyes and belittle His dumb carpenter of a father?

  • Did He go to the synagogue and argue with the Rabbi?

  • Did He complain about how dumb His soccer coach was?

No, His wisdom was not revealed in what He knew, but in how He walked.

Do you see how this fits with what Luke has been teaching us about the type of people who Jesus saves? Jesus has been revealing Himself to the humble, to the meek, to the pure in heart, to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.


It’s not surprising that Luke pulled out this story of Jesus. THIS STORY EXAMPLIFY the humble and meek Jesus that Luke wants you to see. AND THIS IS THE SAME TYPE OF WISDOM THAT IS EXPECTED OF US.

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