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Was Christ born divine?

I ended the year contemplating the miracle of the incarnation of God as Jesus. Since then I have been puzzling over the life of Jesus. Was he born with all the wisdom of God? Did his spiritual maturity develop slowly as it does for other humans? Was he simply born with the potential to develop in his human life the wisdom of God? When did he gain the miraculous powers of God?
We know that the Holy Spirit guided Simeon, a righteous and devout man, to the temple to see the newborn Messiah, Jesus. Simeon immediately blessed God for letting him see God’s “salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelations to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” Simeon blessed Joseph and Mary, saying to Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed — and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” That amazing encounter is followed by the arrival of Anna, a prophet and daughter of Phanuel. Anna began to speak about Jesus “to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”
Luke continues his narrative with the famous phrase, “The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). This is a statement that could be applied to almost any boy ever born. So we are left to wonder about the divinity beginning to show in Jesus.
A host of stories about the childhood of Jesus suggest that he had miraculous powers. In one English ballad of the Middle Ages, the tale suggests that the child visited England and touched certain people with power. In one story the boy Jesus carves wooden ducks, which then fly away. In another, Jesus is being taunted by village boys and he turns them into stone. But all these legends are sufficiently fanciful and out of character for divinity that we easily dismiss them as not providing any help to understanding the development of Jesus as the Messiah.
Luke’s next view of youthful Jesus is the account of Jesus at the temple when he was 12 years old (Luke 2:41-52). Most of the information about Jesus’ life following his birth is supplied by Luke, the gospel writer who begins explaining that he has researched all about Jesus. Matthew recounts the birth and escape to Egypt but does not tell about Jesus amazing all who heard him asking questions of and giving answers to teachers. Interesting, Luke reports that his parents “were astonished” by the scene they encounter with Jesus at the temple among the teachers.
We all know precocious 12-year-olds who can raise difficult questions and make statements showing great wisdom. But parents are rarely astonished by skilled responses from their children. Were Joseph and Mary astonished because Jesus was saying things they and others had taught him? Were they astonished because Jesus was bold enough to speak out among the teachers? Or were they astonished that he knew things no one had taught him?
No one can give a definite answer to these and other questions, but the scene helps believers understand that divine knowledge challenges people to see themselves and God more clearly.
How did the divine nature of Jesus grow and emerge in his youth? We know that when, at 30, he went to John for baptism, God in a voice from heaven and a descending dove made it clear Jesus is his son who men were to listen to as the authentic authority in all things spiritual.
It is my personal belief that all divinity was innate in Jesus. His life on earth as a human required the nurture of parents and rabbis at the synagogue. He readily mastered the teachings of the law through an amazing intellect, and he saw behind the details the deeper truth of God’s will. He readily answered when asked about the greatest command, “Love God with all your being; and love your neighbor as yourself.”
When John was reluctant to baptize him because of his goodness, Jesus showed an understanding that doing all the outward signs of righteousness was important for showing others the path of obedience.
The mysteries of God among us are great, and I hope we will stretch our minds to gain greater understanding of God’s working. We may never have all the answers, but we will grow in faith and trust.

  • Feedback
    I disagree. Jesus was not born divine, because he received the Godhead at his baptism, and became equal with God.
    Allen Park CofC
    Lincoln Park, MI
    November, 20 2009

    Jesus was not born divine.
    Isaiah 7:14-15 state that Jesus would have to learn to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
    Also, Jesus didn’t have the Godhead before his baptism.
    It’s that simple.
    Church of Christ
    Lincoln Park, MI
    September, 7 2009

Filed under: Insight

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