When I Grow Up, I Want to be just like Jesus

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While I was preparing for this morning’s message, I had a weird flash of insight. I suddenly wondered what it must have been like to be one of the younger brothers or sisters of Jesus. We know from the Gospels that Mary and Joseph had a number of children together. There were four brothers. Their names were James, and Joseph, and Simon, and Judas. We know from the same passages that there were at least two sisters since the plural is used although their names are not given. It was a typically large Jewish household.

Since the initial flash of insight, I’ve thought some more about what the family dynamics must have been like in that home. First, I though about a few lines that you probably never heard in Jesus’ home when He was growing up:

    • You probably never heard, “But Jesus hit me first!”
    • You probably never heard, “Jesus, now don’t you lie to me!”
    • You probably never heard, “Simon, it’s too quiet in there. God see what mischief your brother Jesus is getting into.”
    • You probably never heard, “Jesus, You’ve go to the count of three ... 1 ... 2 ... “

I also wondered if Mary ever held up Jesus as an example for the other children to follow. Did Judas’ synagogue teacher every tell him, “I remember your brother Jesus. I hope you know the Torah as well as he did.” Did Mary ever tell James, “Why can’t you be more like your brother, Jesus?” Whoa boy! How do these sons of Abraham ever hope to measure up to the one who is the Son of God?

Now this may all seem like an exercise in theological silliness to you, but I share this silliness with you to make a point. The goal of the believer is to, indeed, be conformed to the image of Christ. As a Christian have you ever said to yourself: “When I grow up, I want to be just like Jesus!” ILLUS. When the wife of missionary Adoniram Judson told him that a newspaper article likened him to some of the apostles, Judson replied, "I do not want to be like a Paul...or any mere man. I want to be like Christ...I want to follow Him only, copy His teachings, drink in His Spirit, and place my feet in His footprints...Oh, to be more like Christ!"

I want to preach this morning of growing in your faith. As believers we are to increasingly reflect the Lord’s character in our lives. The Apostle Paul speaks of this when he wrote to the Christians at Corinth:

2 Corinthians 3:18 "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

In this, I believe the boyhood of Jesus has much to teach us about being transformed into His likeness.


            1. one of the chief characteristics of children is that they are always growing
                1. they are growing physically
                    1. our text this morning says of Jesus, and the child grew v. 40
                    2. I have no doubt that Joseph and Mary had as much trouble keeping Jesus in scandals as you do keeping your children in shoes
                2. they are growing mentally and intellectually
                    1. v. 40 also says that Jesus was filled with wisdom
                    2. children’s minds soak up everything—good things and sometimes bad—but they are always learning
                3. they are growing emotionally
                    1. v. 40 also says that Jesus waxed strong in spirit
                    2. they are learning how to express their feelings in appropriate ways
                    3. they also become aware of the ‘divine’
                4. children are always growing
            2. Christians need to emulate this childlike attribute of growth
                1. in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus extolled the virtues of children in our relationship to the Kingdom of God
                  • Matthew 18:2-4 "And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
                2. I’m sure that one of the characteristics that Jesus was probably thinking of was constant growth
            3. there is never a time when the Child of God is to stop growing in the Lord and in the knowledge of His Word
            4. if you are not growing in Christ, there are only two other possibilities ...
                1. 1st, you’re still spiritually dead
                    1. the sad truth is that many professing Christians are merely practitioners of religious rites instead of disciples of the Christ
                    2. they are tares growing up among the wheat—they feign the real thing, but time reveals their true nature
                2. 2nd, you’ve become spiritually stagnate
                    1. we all know what happens when water becomes stagnate
                    2. it becomes stale and bitter to the taste
                    3. it ceases to flow along its course and is idled in one spot
                    4. it begins to breed and grow nasty little things
            5. if either of these two realities resemble your spiritual life, you need to make a decision to do something about it


            1. you can never have too much knowledge of God’s character, God’s Word, or God’s Ways
            2. the word that is translated wisdom in this verse means a broad and full intelligence of diverse matters
                1. we often hear Jesus referred to as a simple carpenter
                    1. by that, people often mean that He was unschooled or unlearned
                2. but there was nothing unschooled about Jesus’ intellect
                    1. in John 7:46 the crowds said of Jesus, “No one ever spoke the way this man does.”
                    2. when He taught in the local synagogues in His home town of Nazareth, the people were amazed at His knowledge and wisdom
                      • Matthew 13:54-55 "He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? 55 “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?"
                    3. when Jesus was in Jerusalem, He regularly went to the Temple and taught the people
                      • John 7:14-15 "But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach. 15 The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?”
            3. it is obvious from the Gospel accounts that Jesus the man, had a thorough knowledge of God, of the Scriptures, and of man’s nature
            4. how do you grow in wisdom like Jesus did?
                1. like Jesus, you acquire maturity in you faith as you attain a more thorough knowledge of the Scriptures
                    1. the Word of God is the very best place to find wisdom
                      • Proverbs 3:13-14 "Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, 14 for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold."
                      • ILLUS. The Bible Version of the game, Trivial Pursuit, has a statement on the front of the box I really like. It reads, “The trivia that is not trivial.”
                    2. a knowledge of God’s Word leads to wisdom and spiritual maturity
                2. like Jesus, you acquire maturity as you experience the providence of God in the everyday affairs of life
                    1. Jesus saw the hand of God the Father in every area of life
                    2. God was more than a theological concept to Jesus—He was an intimate Father who takes great delight in guiding His Son’s life
                    3. Jesus experienced God, because Jesus was a man of prayer—every decision He made, every step He took, every disciple He called, every word He said was a result of intimate conversation with God
                    4. Jesus experienced God, because Jesus always sought to obey God
                      • John 5:19 "Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does."
                    5. believers need to understand that a Sovereign God is providentially controlling the world and our lives
                3. like Jesus, you acquire maturity as you understand the ways in which God works
                    1. God’s ways are not our ways
                      • "For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are," (1 Corinthians 1:25-28, ESV)
                    2. Jesus came to understand that the Father frequently works in opposition to the way men believe He ought to work
                    3. we need to understand that, too
            5. we develop spiritually when we grow in wisdom


    • John 5:19 "Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does."
            1. the word stature refers to a maturity of character that makes you fit for a specific task
                1. when the Bible says that Jesus grew in stature, it means that He developed a Godly character
                2. character matters and Jesus was a man of integrity, virtue, and principle
            2. Christians need to develop a Christ-like character
                1. Christian character is developed as we mature in the faith and put childish behaviors behind us
                  • 1 Corinthians 13:11 "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me."
            3. the Bible tells us that we are to have a child-like faith, never a childish faith
                1. each of us knows of Christians who have never really grown up in their faith
                  • ILLUS. I have a good friend in the ministry who struggled through a really difficult situation in his church last year because of the childish, spiritual immaturity of a believer. The church had been saving to purchase a van. A man in the congregation had donated several thousands of dollars to the van fund. But when the trustees actually recommended a certain van, the man who had donated the money didn’t like that particular vehicle and threatened to take his money back if they didn’t by the van he wanted.
                2. now folks, I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds very similar to the ten-year-old boy who tells his friends, “If you don’t play by my rules, I’m gonna take my ball and bat and go home, and then see where you’ll be!”
                3. or it’s like the church member who says, “If you don’t do it my way, I’ll take my tithe and go to another church.”
                    1. and we need to tell such people, “Don’t let the door hit ya in the butt on the way out.”
                    2. of course we need to say it in a loving way!
            4. spiritual development means putting away childish behaviors and striving to develop a Christ-like character
              • Ephesians 4:13 " ... we [must] all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."
            5. the boyhood of Jesus teaches us that we must grow spiritually


    • Luke 2:48-49 "So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” 49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
            1. this passage tells us of the time when Jesus and His parents came to Jerusalem on His 12th birthday
                1. the reason for that trip was undoubtedly His bar mitzvah
                2. bar mitzvah is that Jewish ceremony in which a boy is recognized as a man and attains the age of religious duty and responsibility
                    1. he becomes a son of the law
            2. on the return trip, the caravan has traveled all day and has stopped for the evening
                1. the women begin to prepare the evening meal, fathers begin the age old task of rounding up the kids
                    1. but there’s a problem – Joseph cannot find his son
                    2. a quick search of the camp reveals Jesus is nowhere to be found
                2. with that feeling of panic that overwhelms every parent at that moment, Joseph and Mary rush back to Jerusalem to look for their son
                    1. they look for Him for three days
                    2. they go every place they think would be attractive to a boy of twelve
                        1. they go to the bazaar and begin looking through all the shops and stalls
                        2. they hurry to the sheep market and then the cattle market, and then the camel market
                        3. they anxiously check with friends, “Have you seen him?”
                        4. they even inquire of strangers, “We’re looking for a twelve-year-old boy.”
                    3. finally, in desperation, they look in the last place you would expect to find an active, bright, twelve-year-old boy – in church
                    4. when they find him, Mary reprimands him "And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.”" (Luke 2:48, ESV)
                      • ILLUS. That word ‘distress’ in this verse means to cause pain either physical pain or mental anguish. It’s the same word used in the story in Luke 16 of the Rich Man who dies and goes to hell and finds himself in torment. If we put the verse into our modern vernacular Mary says, “Your father and I have been frantically searching for you. You’ve put us through hell.”
            3. when admonished and questioned about His where-a-bouts, Jesus responds, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
              • ILLUS. The phrase must be is δει̂ εἰμί (dāy ē-mē) and can be more literally translated, it is necessary. It’s a word that refers to divine destiny or unavoidable fate. Once Jesus is in Jerusalem and sees the temple for the first time in His life, He is inescapably drawn to the place where the God is worshiped. “Didn’t you know that this is the only place I could have been?”


            1. what does that mean?
            2. well, I think it means, first of all, that God has a specific plan and a specific will for your life that is unique to your abilities, gifts, and willingness
            3. it also means that there are some general areas of conduct you and I must engage in if we are going to be about the Father’s business
                1. being about the Father’s business means personal evangelism
                2. being about the Father’s business means supporting of missions
                3. being about the Father’s business means ministering to others in need
                4. being about the Father’s business means loving even our enemies
                5. being about the Father’s business means praying for those who use and abuse us
                6. being about the Father’s business means raising your children in the nurture and counsel of God
                7. being about the Father’s business means praying in the Spirit for all those in authority over us
                8. being about the Father’s business means leading quiet and peaceable lives
                9. being about the Father’s business means taking up your cross daily and following Jesus
                10. I could go on, but I think you get the point!
            4. the boyhood of Jesus teaches us that we must be about the Father’s business


    • Luke 2:51 "Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart."
            1. this event in the life of Jesus ends what we know about his childhood
                1. between the age of 12 and 30 – when He began His public ministry, the Bible is silent about the life of our Savior
                2. it simply tells us that He went home to Nazareth and was obedient to Joseph and Mary
            2. during His ministry, He was completely obedient to the will of His Heavenly Father
                1. the Apostle Paul reminds us of the degree to which Jesus was obedient
                  • Philippians 2:8 "And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!"
            3. God’s greatest desire this morning is that you willingly place yourself under His Sovereignty
                1. that means that your desires must be conformed to His will
                2. that means that your mind must be conformed to His thoughts
                3. that means that your body must be subjected to His discipline
            4. you show God your love for Him through your surrender to His authority in your life
              • 1 John 5:3 "This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,"
            5. if you will be obedient to God, His blessing will over-flow in your life

In the world of academics there is a study method known by many as, cramming. It is the practice of procrastinating on studies until the last possible moment. When that day of reckoning arrives, the coffee pot is stoked, and we strap ourselves to the desk for an all night journey with our books.

Cramming is a phenomenon unknown to the agricultural world. Farmers don’t cram. They can’t delay planting crops in the Spring then hit the ground really hard in the fall. If a harvest is expected in the fall then planned and scheduled activities must take place throughout the year. Maybe that is why Jesus used so many agricultural illustrations in His teaching and preaching. Spiritual growth and maturity doesn’t come like grades that are salvaged by intensive periods of last minute cramming. Christlikeness comes from a lifetime spent with the Savior, constantly cultivating our faith.

As I close this morning, I have two questions for you: First – are you a child of the King – have you been born again?

Second, “It you are a Christian, what are you doing to please your Heavenly Father? Are you growing up into spiritual maturity? Are you about your Heavenly Father’s business? Are you being obedient to the will of God?”

The goal of every believer’s life is to emulate the life of our Savior.

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