40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
1901 ASV Translation:
40 And the child grew, and waxed strong, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
I. This Text is an Echo of 1:80.
A. The first six words of this text are an exact duplicate of 1:80.
B. The focus of both texts is upon "growth" and "strength".
1. The word for "grew" is a word that is consistently used to indicate what is in plants a division of cells that increases the presence of cells so that the size of the plant increases as those cells divide. The imperfect tense puts the focus upon the process as it is in place through time.
2. The word for "waxed strong" is the "middle word" in Greek between a more basic word for "strength" and the conclusion word for "ability/accomplishment". It is used of the "strength" that arises from the ability of one to organize what is available to achieve the maximum result -- much like a student of the martial arts who, though not physically large or muscular, is able to defeat a much larger adversary through the skills of organization, or like an army which, though smaller in number than an opposing army, is able to win the victory through the tactics of its officers. It is also in the imperfect tense, but it is in the passive voice -- the strengthening was being done to Him, not by Him.
3. The focus upon the word "child"...
a. Is not about "age" -- the word is used of the 8-day-old who needs to be circumcised (Luke 1:59; 2:21) as well as children at play in the marketplace (7:32), not to mention its metaphorical use of grown adult men (John 21:5).
b. It is all about the attitude of the "parent" toward the "child" as an object of great affection (Matthew 5:39 in context; 7:28 in context; Mark 9:24; etc.).
c. Most importantly, this word is the word chosen to describe the nature of God's eternal Kingdom.
1) In Luke 2:27 Jesus is identified as "the child Jesus".
2) In Luke 9:48 entrance into God's Kingdom is tied to the treatment of a "child" such as "this" one.
3) In Luke 18:16 the Kingdom of God is described as being "of such".
4) In Luke 18:17 refusal of entrance into the Kingdom is based upon one's refusal to embrace the Kingdom in its "child" identity.
5) In Acts 3:13; 3:26; 4:27; and 4:30 Jesus is called the "Child" of God in both the preaching of the Gospel as well as in the prayers of the saints to God.
6) In Hebrews 2:13-14 the incarnation is described in terms of the linkage between the Child and the children.
II. This Text Deliberately Puts Distinction Between John and Jesus.
A. After the first six words, this text altogether departs from 1:80.
1. In 1:80 the focus beyond the first six words is upon John's development in the wildernesses until the day of his appearing to Israel.
2. In this text the focus is upon the "mechanisms" of Jesus' growth and strength.
B. The reasons for the departure...
1. John, who was to be filled with the Spirit from his mother's womb, had significant need to learn that process -- i.e., how does one walk in the fulness of the Spirit on a day by day basis? It was necessary for John, as a son of Adam, to be taught the answer.
2. Jesus, Who was the Son of God as opposed to being a son of Adam, had significant need of development in terms of the strength that arises from wisdom.
a. In the Adamic scenario, the "more subtle Serpent" used deceit to gain the leverage he needed to take Adam down.
b. In this scenario, the Son of God was being prepared, as another human being, to succeed where Adam failed.
1) The process of coming into the world in a way that "locked the Son into the process of maturation" required that He "grow" in physical terms -- that He develop understanding in a physical, limited brain just as other human beings do.
2) There is every indication that Jesus' incarnation included an inaccessibility to the omniscience of deity -- not because He did not remain "God", but because the reduction to the "tools" of the physical human reality was real. The brain in the prepared body (Hebrews 10:5) was extremely limited in respect to its capacity to contain omniscience. The development of the brain so that it could acquire, store, and connect data was a necessary thing. The Son of God had a need to learn (Hebrews 5:8).
c. This text tells us that Jesus' increasing strength was the consequence of an on-going filling with wisdom as a consequence of "grace from God" being upon Him.
1) The participle "filled" is both a present tense and is in the passive voice.
2) The verb "was" is an imperfect in the indicative mood.
3) The significance of the differences in the verbs is that "grace from God" was continuously involved in His case so that He was continually being filled with "wisdom". As the days progressed, the skill of life (wisdom) increased in equal measure. As the body developed, the Person in that body was adequately prepared by the continuous infusion of grace to meet the requirements of the developing body in its own set of daily circumstances.
III. This Text Hints at the Coming of Later Developments.
A. The following record of Jesus' decision at the age of twelve to be "about" His Father's business is, obviously, rooted in our current text: His growth was "into" His instrumentality for the Father's business.
B. Luke's desire is to leave a record of how it was that Jesus developed into His identity as The Redeemer.