We don’t know much about Jesus’ childhood. Almost everything we know comes from Luke 2:
- He was circumcised at 8 days old (2:21).
- After 33 days, when Mary’s time of impurity was over, he was presented in the Temple and his parents offered a sacrifice (2:22-24). Simeon and Anna prophesied over him, and “when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord,” the young family returned home to Nazareth (2:39).
- He went to Jerusalem every year for Passover (2:41).
Twice in this chapter there’s a summary verse about Jesus growing up, and they’re similar:
- “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him” (2:40).
- “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (2:52).
What is it about Jesus, at this early age, that brings his Father’s favor on him? Of course, he’s the eternal Son of God, in whom the Father has always delighted. But verse 52 says he grew in favor with God. How so? I think one answer is found in his complete obedience to the ceremonial law. Everything Luke tells us about his childhood shows Jesus going through exactly what the Law required of an Israelite: circumcision on the eighth day, an offering at the end of 33 days, observing the feasts.
This is what’s known as the active obedience of Christ. He didn’t just abstain from sin his entire life; he positively performed all the requirements of the Law, from loving God with all his heart to not coveting to observing all the required feasts. That’s the perfect record that’s imputed to us when we’re born again, the righteousness that God sees us clothed in. So when we read that the favor of God was upon his Son Jesus, it means that, by virtue of our union with him, that same favor of God is on us too.