During Christmas, we often think about Jesus as an infant. Or we think about the theology of the incarnation. Or we think about whether or not we should tell our youngest sibling or child that Santa may or may not be “real.”
Sometimes we even think about all three of those things while perusing Amazon for gift ideas (If you can do that, bully for you. I can’t).
The new year arrives. We manage winter. Spring appears. Easter prep begins.
And during Easter, we often think about Jesus as an adult. And we think about the cross, and we think about the resurrection. And we think about whether or not we should tell our youngest sibling or child that the Easter Bunny may or may not be “real” (We are a very interesting society).
Between baby Jesus and grown-up Jesus, we don’t think a lot about his life. And that makes sense. Based on the very little we have about child Jesus, we would be making a lot of conjectures and guesses as to what the life of young Jesus looked like.
But what we have is so interesting! And because we have Luke’s Gospel (and, I guess, common sense), we don’t have to continue to debate whether or not we should tell our youngest sibling or child that Jesus may or may not have been “twelve.” He was!
When Jesus was twelve, we read in Luke what I will quickly summarize: Mary, Joseph, and Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Passover. Mary and Joseph left Jerusalem to go back home. They thought Jesus was with other family members. He wasn’t. So they ran back to Jerusalem and found Jesus in the Temple, and Jesus tells them, “Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke: 2:49, CSB)
I honestly don’t know how to best explain all of that. In fact, I’m not going to try here. Instead, I want to explore what happens next:
Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people. – Luke 2:51-52, CSB
So, Jesus goes back to Nazareth, obeys his parents, and this fills Mary’s heart with treasured memories. And then we read something amazing: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.”
This statement is amazing for so many reasons. I want to highlight just one: We’ve read it before!
Yes, Luke is alluding to a story in the Old Testament about a mother and her young boy. This young boy could be found in the Temple. This young boy would be called a prophet. This young boy would hear God speak. His name was Samuel.
We can look back to 1 Samuel 2:26 and we find:
By contrast [to some other, wicked guys], the boy Samuel grew in stature and in favor with the Lord and with people.
Young Jesus and young Samuel, growing in stature and favor with God and people. What powerful, remarkable statements about these two young men. But how exactly did they do that?
There are many reasons, and you could probably write a whole book on “growing in stature and in favor with God and people” and make a major profit (Pun!). But while I was reading 1 Samuel, I noticed something a paragraph or two before verse 26 that filled my heart with wonder.
I noticed something small yet amazing:
Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. – 1 Samuel 2:19
Each year his mother made him a little robe. Every single year, his mother made him a little robe. His mother made him a little, priestly robe. A robe for her son.
In 2002, Mr. Rogers gave a commencement address at Dartmouth. During the address he said to the graduates, “I’d like to give you all an invisible gift. A gift of a silent minute to think about those who have helped you become who you are today.”
When I read this verse in 1 Samuel, I thought about that quote. I imagined Samuel sitting among the graduates. I imagined him thinking back to year after year of his mother bringing him a little robe. He would have realized it was her dedication to him and to God that allowed him to grow in favor with God and people. It was her love, her compassion, her presence. His mother, who had prayed a deeply sincere prayer to God for a child. And then gave her son back to God out of gratitude. Hannah. The name of a devoted God-follower. The name of a devoted mother.
Year after year, she brought Samuel a little robe. Year after year, Mary raised Jesus in Nazareth. And as a result of Hannah and Mary’s devotion to God, their sons grew in godliness.
One son would crown kings, and the other would be crowned King.
Your devotion to God doesn’t have to be flashy. It can be as “simple” as finding that young man or young woman who you can support year after year in their faith. Teach the next generation how to pray, how to listen to God, how to read the Bible. Give them encouragement and blessings.
Be like Mary and Hannah.
Bring them robes.
– Matt Welborn