2022 Advent Devotional – Immanuel, God is With Us is Now Available on Kindle

Advent Devotional 2021 – December 6th

PRAYER

Take a moment to become still, aware of God’s presence, and then pray:

Almighty and merciful Father, thank You for so loving the world that You gave Your only begotten Son to become one with us so that we might forever share in Your life and love. Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit so that we might hear and obey what You say to us. Amen

REFLECTION

Then Jesus went down with Mary and Joseph and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and years, and in divine and human favor.
Luke 2: 51-52

“The child is father to the man,” observed poet William Wordsworth in the poem “My Heart Leaps Up”. By this he meant that character is formed and seen in childhood, staying with a person through adult life. Watch the child Jesus fetching water for His mother or sweeping up Joseph’s workshop, and you will detect traits that endure through His life.

Perhaps at no other stages in Jesus’ growth do we see more of His humanity than revealed in today’s scripture. The eternal Son is pleased to humble Himself and to develop in normal human growth as an infant, a child, and a youth. Scottish theologian and pastor James Stalker writes about development as being an essential part of being human:

“It belongs to the very essence of human nature that it must grow from stage to stage. And the perfection of our Lord, just because it was human had to realize itself on every step of the ladder of development. He was always both perfect on the stage which he had reached, and at the same time, rising to a higher stage of perfection.” (James Stalker, The Trial and Death of Jesus Christ: A Devotional History of Our Lord’s Passion)

There appears nothing spectacular nor miraculous as Jesus shares our humanity with no signs of evident greatness. In an obscure village on the far edge of a great empire Jesus “increased in wisdom and years, and in divine and human favor.” It seems the most routine and ordinary life anyone might imagine. We would “suppose that Jesus in His carpentry shop never laid aside the hammer and used the Holy Ghost to drive an awkward nail.” (Austin Farrer, The Triple Victory)

Jesus performed no miracles or mighty works in His first thirty, silent years. The changing of water to wine at Cana’s marriage feast is identified as “the first of his signs” (John 2:11). The Gospels later report Jesus’ hometown people as not in the least impressed by Jesus, thinking there was nothing special about him. “What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him (Mark 6:2-3).

The first thirty of Jesus’ thirty-three years are spent in humble obedience, beginning the work of restoring what Adam’s disobedience had ruined. We see Jesus obeying parents, studying at the synagogue, learning to make a living and choosing again and again not to sin. Jesus longs to be about His Father’s work and to prepare Himself to face the cross, praying, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42b).

Concerning Jesus’ growing-up years, theologian J. I. Packer reminds: “He was not now God minus some elements of His deity, but God plus all that He had made His own by taking manhood to Himself. He who made man was now learning what it felt like to be a man.” (J. I. Packer, Knowing God) He was learning what it was like to work and feed a family, face temptation as a teen and young adult, handle rejection, and be our merciful high priest. Truly the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.

So God created us human, wanting us to live fully human lives. As followers of Jesus we would be obedient sons and daughters, faithful fathers and mothers, husbands and wives; honorable carpenters, nurses, bricklayers, teachers and salespersons, whatever our life situation. We do this because the Son of God took on our full humanity, dignifying and making holy what it means to be human. Jesus took the ordinary, mundane activities of life and made them channels of divine grace and healing!

WORSHIP

Think back over the past 24 hours and note when you experienced a “high” and a “low”. Share with God how the humanity of Jesus might speak to you in what you experienced.

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