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The Aroma of Life



There is profound beauty in seeing Jesus’ sonship to God the Father (v. 49), and His submission to Joseph and Mary (v. 51), side-by-side.

When a proud and sinful kid gets wind of his own specialness, what can happen at home? The answer: the opposite of submission. ‘I’m a star athlete, so I shouldn’t have to obey my very ordinary Dad and Mom.’ Or: ‘I’m the spelling bee champ and math whiz all wrapped up in one, and the honors are pouring in, so I shouldn’t have to submit my life to the will of my blue-collar parents.’ ‘Or: ‘I’m special, I was chosen for the lead role, I am destined for greatness, so I shouldn’t have to comply with parental directions.’ Or the Christian version: ‘I’m spiritual, I know God, I long to obey God’s Word, my church family agrees that I’m someone special, and frankly my parents aren’t half as committed to the Lord as I am, so I shouldn’t have to live under their authority.’ Really? Let me show you what ‘spiritual’ looks like: “the sinless Boy,” “Christ the Lord,” “filled with wisdom,” with God’s favor all over Him, and destined for the throne, “went down with [his parents] … and was submissive to them.” This is what obedience looks like.   

The main duty of children is set forth in Exodus 20: “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12); and in Ephesians 6: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). God’s design is that children render heartfelt honor, obedience, and submission to their parents. If Jesus had not lived in submission to His parents, then He would have been unqualified to be our Savior. In other words, the submission of Jesus to His parents is essential to His role as Savior. Think about it: if He hadn’t submitted to His parents, then He would have been disobedient, and if He had been disobedient, then He would have needed to be forgiven and saved, and if He had needed to be forgiven and saved, then He would have needed a Savior and couldn’t have been one Himself. Jesus’ submission to His parents is a part – a good and necessary part – of His perfect record of obedience, righteousness, and sinlessness. If He had failed here, the whole project would have collapsed.

But we also need to understand that there is a tight relationship between growing in wisdom, submitting to parents, and becoming a godly man. When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, with the weight of our sin about to be thrust upon Him and the wrath of God about to be poured out upon Him, He prayed to His heavenly Father: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42) Herein we see the essence of submission: “not my will, but yours, be done.” Jesus didn’t wait until the really big matters came His way to start submitting. Growing up as a child in the home of Joseph and Mary, in very ordinary and everyday matters – hour after hour, day after day, year after year – He yielded to the will of His parents.

…. As a grown man Jesus would say, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” (John 5:19) But this attunement and alignment with the Father’s will didn’t start as an adult; it started at home under the direction and care of Dad and Mom, and expressed itself in submission to them. One of the favorite words of other children is ‘No!’ – as in, ‘No, I really don’t want to do what you are telling me to do, and I’ll throw a fit to show you how serious my resistance to parental will is!’ One of Jesus’ favorite words was ‘Yes!’ – as in, ‘Yes, Sir’ and ‘Yes, Ma’am.’ In Jesus’ submission, we behold the aroma of life and hope in a dying world!

From "Jesus Grows Into Manhood: An Exposition of Luke 2:39-52," December 30, 2018

NOTE: Header Image/Featured Image Photo by Paul Illsley on Unsplash

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