“Jesus increased in wisdom.” – Luke 2:52
Report cards. Everyone gets them. Not everyone loves them. If you’re one of those who do well in school, you probably look forward to them because they confirm you’re doing as well as you’d hoped. If you’re one of those continually struggling and pushing to do better, you probably have hesitant anticipation; you want to see if you pulled them up, but you dread seeing that you didn’t. If you’re one of those who really just have a hard time, you wish they’d just keep yours. Or burn it. Or just stop doing grades all together.
But no matter what your report card says, every single human being has a brain, and every person goes through incredible mental change, or brain change, during middle school and into high school. And whether you get A’s, B’s or F’s, God has gifted you with a brain that is growing and changing even right now. From about 6th grade all the way into your early 20’s, your brain will make an astounding transformation – you will go from thinking like a child to thinking like an adult. When you’re a child, the world is pretty basic and simple to you. If you have little siblings, you see this all the time. They don’t really care what they wear. They don’t perceive how others view their behavior. Mom and dad are always right. God is big but easy to understand. But as you enter puberty (there’s that word again), you gain the ability to begin understanding things like perception, sarcasm, nuance, spiritual concepts, etc. This is called, in the science world, “abstract thinking.” You have already received this ability in your brain, but you’ll spend the next few years learning how to use it, strengthen it, and master it. This brain change makes the greatest impact on your life because it affects all the others and we’ll see that in future chapters, and every Thursday we’ll talk about your thinking and mental growth. There will be amazing discoveries and difficult frustrations as you work through this mental metamorphosis. You will understand life with more depth and insight, which means you have the potential to gain increased wisdom.
Notice the verse from Luke. Jesus “increased in wisdom.” For centuries is has been a puzzle to Christians how much Jesus understood about his identity and purpose as a child and teenager. It is a mystery how the Son of God, who created everything and possessed all knowledge and wisdom could become a human baby, child, and teenager that had to learn, study, and increase in wisdom. But, as we have seen from other verses about Jesus being just like us in every way we are human (Phil. 2:7-9), Jesus did have to go through the growing up process, which would have included brain change. The Bible tells us he increased in wisdom, and you can’t do that if you’re brain isn’t maturing and changing. As you grow and change in how you think about life, remember Jesus went through that, too. He had to wrestle with it, but he also chose to use this time of brain change to train his mind with truth and learned to understand himself, others, and life from God’s perspective. And because he’s been there, that means he can help you do the same!