Jerusalem was the centre of Jewish wisdom. The great rabbis and doctors of the law would be situated there and others dispersed among the populace and foreign nations would also gather for conference and consultations. A thirst for knowledge could be quenched by listening in to their discussions. A twelve year old boy exceptional in his learning and ardent in his yearning for greater comprehension could not miss out on the opportunity to overhear the conversation and debates participated in by the most eminent experts of the day.
Jesus was not so impertinent and ill-mannered as to interject and lecture his elders but his lingering presence must have amused and intrigued the assembled teachers of the law to such an extent that they good naturedly enquired as to his interest and basic grasp of Israel’s tradition. Drawn to respond Jesus posed questions that only someone well informed could address to the august body of instructors. As dialogue developed it became clear that the mind and manner of Jesus were extraordinary and initial amusement and curiosity grew to astonishment. Jesus impressed his mature and professional audience to the point where they could only be described as astounded. “Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and answers” (v47). He began by asking questions of the wise. As his parents approached to reclaim and rebuke him he could be heard answering the questions of the wise. What is more, his parents, for all their godliness, failed to discern the wisdom of his reply when they asked him why he had separated himself and delayed in the holy city. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (v49). So often his priorities would run counter to human expectation. With all the instruction Jesus’ parents would have given him from early experience of his uniqueness and from the writings of the law and the prophets would they not have been more prepared for the manifestation of remarkable features in his life and character? Mary had to slowly ponder her way to perception, which makes her input to Luke’s gospel even more dependable.
At the commencement and closure to the Lucan narrative we are cautioned to notice the unique wisdom of the Lord Jesus in his youth (vv40&52). His mind was shaped by the Old Testament and filled with the Holy Spirit. While his parents were anxiously searching for him he was earnestly searching the Scriptures. Care must be taken in trying to assess the internal life of the Lord but he must have possessed a strong sense of unbroken communion with the Father and cultivated it carefully through disciplines of study, prayer, worship, and obedience to God and guardians (v51). Great grace was within him and this was attractive to others.
Jesus had a thirst for wisdom and he was the fount of wisdom. His whole ministry is evidence of this. He was observant of nature and his parables are proof of his powers of detailed perception. He had profound penetration into the complexity, ways, and wiles of human nature. He was apprised of the culture and customs of his times and the motives and influences that moulded them. He had grasped the realities of contemporary politics and religion. His comments evince great acumen and in controversy he was unbeatable. His wit could be sharp and withering when trained on pomposity, hypocrisy, and self-righteousness. Jesus was immensely, infinitely wise. When we ponder like Mary that fact becomes more and more clear. His wisdom was spectrum wide – ethical, practical, historical, - in every way conceivable. He was no exhibitionist, formal philosopher, professional counsellor or commentator. He was principally prophet and shepherd in his public speech and in his spiritual wisdom he was unsurpassable. He came as the sage of salvation, not pronouncing theory but truth emanating from his relationship with the Father. He knew the Truth and embodied him (John 10:30). Jesus was and enunciated wisdom. He was the Word in our world, the Revealer from the Father’s bosom. Coming from the Father his main wisdom imparted to us was the way back to the Father. Such wisdom is simple but beyond the reach of sinful man (1 Corinthians 1).
Men are puffed up about knowledge, which is always dependent upon others, and acquired or suggested by tutors. Men are pretentious concerning wisdom and make great display about their judgment and prudence, but the boastful rarely avoid becoming buffoons. The knowledge of Christ in its simplest form is greater than the accumulated knowledge of the world amassed in ignorance or defiance of him. It is in the temple before the Lord, figuratively speaking, that real wisdom is gained for the comfort and conduct of this life and the hope of the life to come.
Salvation is to be sought from the One who was trained and instructed to provide it. He knew the solution to our predicament. He listened to the Father and leaned upon him and wrought our deliverance. He knew perfectly the nature he came to salvage and the nature of the God who willed to restore. He could match these two natures together in his perfect person, and match God and man together again in the salvation he performed. Divine wisdom prevailed in Jesus to the overcoming of human folly. The gospel is the publication of divine wisdom that confounds Satan and the world. Jesus is the answer to the divine dilemma posed by rebellious man: How can I give you up? How can I hand you over? (Hosea 11:8).
The cross is the ultimate disclosure of the divine wisdom. Only the humbled will see this when grace enables them to appreciate “the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”, (Colossians 2:3), - Father and Son equalized: “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). Jesus is supremely proficient in accomplishing our salvation: It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus (prevenient grace), who has become for us wisdom from God – that is our righteousness, holiness, and redemption” 1 Corinthians 1:30). His wisdom is our comprehensive restoration and we are saved by his knowledge (Isaiah 53:11b).