By Kevin Leary
Previously we asked the question, “Did Jesus sing?” The answer was a resounding “yes.” This month we want to ask, “Did Jesus memorize Scripture?” And again the answer is a resounding “yes.” And like last month, we want to allow the example of Christ to encourage us in our spiritual walk.
Now we might say that Jesus had an unfair advantage, because being fully God, He already knew every jot and tittle of Scripture! Although it is hard to comprehend how Jesus was both fully God and fully man at the same time, we do know Jesus “grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom” (Luke 2:52). As a young child in Joseph and Mary’s home, one of the first things Jesus’ parents would have taught Him is the Great Shema or Deuteronomy 6:4–5, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” All Jewish children would begin their theological education by learning that there is only one true God and He is the Lord. And therefore they were to love the Lord their God with all of their heart. An interesting truth about this passage is that the next verse provides a very practical means for how to love the Lord your God with all your heart. Verse 6 proclaims, “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.” A heart that loves God will be a heart that loves God’s Word so that he treasures it in his heart. The Psalmist who loved the Lord proclaimed, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11). In Luke 4, Jesus is tempted by Satan three times, and every time He responded with the Scriptures. Whether or not Jesus had an unfair advantage, we know that God’s Word was hidden in His heart.
As one goes back to the context of Luke 2:39–40, we find some interesting details about the context for how Jesus grew in wisdom. First, the context describes the period in Jesus’ life between the ages of approximately one and a half months and twelve years of age. The days of Mary’s purification (Luke 2:22; Leviticus 12:2–8) would have been forty-one days into Jesus’ life, and then [Luke 2:42] continues with Jesus being twelve years of age, or when He would have been considered an adult. So this period of time is specifically talking about Jesus’ childhood.
A second observation is that this passage focuses on the parents bringing up Jesus in a godly manner. “They had performed all things according to the law of the Lord” and then verse 41 says, “His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.” Although Joseph and Mary were not without sin, they were God fearing and seeking to train Jesus in a God-honoring way. It was this parental influence at home in Nazareth (v. 39) during His childhood that was instrumental in Jesus growing in wisdom. You see, the Word of God that is in the heart of the father (Deuteronomy 6:6) is to be deposited into the hearts of the children. Deuteronomy 6:7 proclaims, “You shall teach them [God’s words] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” The goal was actually not for the children to know and memorize God’s Word. The goal was to have the children know there is only one true God and that He is to be loved with all of their hearts.
Yes, Jesus memorized God’s Word. May that truth encourage you to memorize God’s Word. If you are a parent, may it encourage you to be diligently depositing God’s Word into the hearts of your children. Why? So that we can love the one true God as we ought and not sin against Him.
Kevin Leary (MA, Piedmont Graduate School) is pastor of First Baptist Church, Hamburg, N.Y. This article was originally posted to the church’s blog and is republished here by permission.