And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. (Luke 2:52)
In today’s passage, we have much of the nativity narrative explained to us and this remarkable statement at the end of it. Jesus increased in wisdom and stature.
How is it possible for someone who is God to grow in wisdom and stature? The answer to that question is found in the truths of Christ’s incarnation, which are wonderfully expressed in the Westminster Confession as follows:
VIII. II. The Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon Him man’s nature, with all the essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin; being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.
Especially important here are two phrases I want to highlight. The first is “take upon Him man’s nature.” A common misunderstanding of the incarnation is that Christ’s divinity was limited by his humanity, or that his humanity was taken up in divinity. No. God the Son took on flesh, meaning he was still the eternal second person of the Trinity in all His attributes. At the same time, the person of Christ had all the attributes of humanity as well. This is done without “conversion, composition, or confusion.” The human isn’t turned into divinity. Christ isn’t one part human and one part divine like a cookie recipe. And the human nature doesn’t receive attributes of the divine. It is still human, “with all essential properties, and common infirmities thereof”.
As such, Jesus had to grow and learn just as we did. As he grew, he grew in wisdom as all men grow. Yet, he was without sin, his wisdom and stature growing in correspondence to his sinless nature.
What a wonderful truth, that our God has secured salvation for us in the person of Christ, who knows our temptations (Hebrews 2:18). May this truth give you greater appreciation for your union with Christ.