Spiritual Maturity and Wisdom: Not Leaving Jesus Behind

Beth Demme Blog 1 Comment

One of the wonderful, but sometimes frustrating, things about the New Testament is how little biographical information it gives us about Jesus. The Gospel of Luke spans 18 years of Jesus’ life (from age 12 to age 30) by telling us that “Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor” (Luke 2:52).

This is reminiscent of the Old Testament prophet (and Israelite judge), Samuel, who “continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and with the people” (1 Samuel 2:26).

Thinking about Jesus and Samuel as people who experienced spiritual growth has me asking myself: “Am I?”

I am certainly increasing in years, but am I continuing to grow in wisdom?

I have more information than ever, but am I growing any wiser?

There was a pivotal event that happened when Jesus was 12 years old that I find helpful when thinking about spiritual growth. Jesus and his parents traveled together to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, but when it was over Mary and Joseph accidentally left town without him.

Mary and Joseph assumed that Jesus was in their caravan. They had made this journey every year and Jesus knew what to do when it was time to leave. Or so they thought.

As I venture forward in my own spiritual journey, have I made this mistake? Have I assumed Jesus is with me when really Jesus is inviting me in a different direction?

This story about Jesus at age twelve gives me both hope and direction.

It’s helpful to think about Jesus spending time in the Temple, but even more than that I think I can learn from Mary.

Mary had a contemplative side.

It took Mary and Joseph three days to find Jesus. When they found him, Mary gave Jesus a stern talking to and, if you ask me, she probably gave him The Look, too. You know, the kind of look only a mother can give. The look that says, “yes, I’m happy to see you, but you’re still grounded … forever!”

When the dust settled, and they were back home in Nazareth, we’re told that Mary “treasured all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51).

This is actually the third time in two chapters that Mary approaches life this way. When the angel Gabriel first greeted her, she “pondered what sort of greeting this might be” (Luke 1:29). Then, when the shepherds came for their visit and “made known what had been told them about this child,” “Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:17,19). Now, as Jesus grows in stature and favor, Mary continues to treasure all these things and consider their meaning (Luke 2:51).

Mary’s example invites me to ponder God’s purpose for my own life; my own spiritual journey.

If I miss this step, if I fail to stop and ponder, I run the risk of charging ahead and leaving Jesus behind.

It’s tempting to assume that Jesus is with me, but I can’t know that I’m following Jesus unless I pause to prayerfully listen.

To be sure I haven’t left Jesus behind, I need to spend time quietly pondering what God is calling me to do and who God is calling me to be.

What about you? Are you growing wiser? Are you growing more spiritually mature? How are you careful not to leave Jesus behind? Tell me about it in the comments, in an email, or on Facebook.

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