HOUSMAIL HM#046 - HOW DID JESUS ACQUIRE HIS WISDOM? 23 November 1999
At the age of 12 Jesus was already far advanced in His grasp of the Word Of God. All who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and answers. (Luke 1:47) 20 years later, when people heard Jesus speak, and saw what He did, the same question was still on every lip - "Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?" (Matt 13:54)
So how did Jesus acquire this unique wisdom and understanding?
Firstly we need to set aside the common almost "superstitious" mistake that Jesus had some inherent "knowledge" or ability that enabled Him to bypass the normal methods of learning! He was a MAN "made like His brethren in EVERY respect". (Heb 2:17) His life was a demonstration of what God wants from ALL other men who become adopted as Children of God. It seems most unlikely therefore, that He had any special channel of communication with God, which is not also available to all of us ..... on the same terms.
It should not surprise us to learn that the answer to our question is contained in the "learning method" spelled out in the Old Testament, for ALL MEN who seek after God. If we think about that, it becomes obvious that Jesus must also have done it that way. With God there is no "respect of persons", especially for a beloved Son who must be an example for all other men to follow. There are no "short cuts" ...... no "exam cheat tools" to compensate for lack of inclination or effort ..... no easy way to bypass the long road of persistent Bible Study.
Moses' commandment to Israel is timeless. We must learn to love God with all our heart and soul and might. (Deut 6:4-5) In the same breath He also commanded that his Words from God should be kept upon our "heart", and taught diligently to our children. And in Jeremiah we learn that success in finding God depends on searching with ALL OUR HEART. (Jer 29:13)
So if Jesus is made just like all other men, it seems clear that His UNDERSTANDING of God's Word, and His unique relationship with God, resulted from nothing less than radical obedience to that commandment, firstly by faithful parents who taught Him from what was laid up in their own hearts, and then from His own personal FREEWILL choice to obey it for Himself.
He CHOSE to LOVE GOD, and SEARCH for God, just as we must. He WORKED diligently to acquire the KNOWLEDGE which would reveal God to Him, just as we must. And He found the source of that knowledge in the written WORD of God, just as we must.
In order to keep God's words on His heart, Jesus must have first read them to LEARN what they said. He read them prayerfully. He read them often. He used God's Words to establish the clear boundaries between the true and the false. (And we may be sure that He also READ THEM ALL to make certain he had missed nothing!)
HOW DO WE KNOW ALL THAT?
"Oh, how I love thy law! It is my meditation all the day. Thy commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have MORE UNDERSTANDING than all my teachers, for thy testimonies are my meditation .... Through thy precepts I get UNDERSTANDING; therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to observe thy righteous ordinances." (Psalm 119:97-98,104-105)
That same UNDERSTANDING is also freely available to other men, on the
same terms, and by the same method. That is the basis of the promise inherent
in James 1:5-8:
"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him."
However James does spell out one very important condition which we should have noted already in the Psalm quoted above. We will need to cease from being double minded about SIN ..... and adopt the same single minded pursuit of HOLINESS that we see in Jesus! The only reliable method of Bible Study I have yet discovered, begins with opening our eyes, and "unplugging" our ears, by a diligent dealing with all known sin in our lives. At the same time we need to learn how to LOVE Jesus enough to OBEY Him.
AND NOW FOR THE REAL SECRET OF "SUCCESS" IN BIBLE STUDY!
When we do THAT, Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will become our teacher. (John 14:15,24-25, Acts 5:32) But note carefully again ..... these verses do say very clearly that the Holy Spirit is given ONLY to those who LOVE Jesus and OBEY Jesus. This is not a promise for those whose persistently disobedient actions PROVE that they do not love Jesus at all. (John 14:24)
There is great hope in this promise. Jesus says that when we do meet the conditions for receiving the TEACHER, we will be guided into THE TRUTH. (John 16:13)
But that can't and won't happen without serious Bible Study! You can't love Jesus without also loving God's Word the same way He does. There are no short cuts! Especially, you can't substitute humanistic "education" and "hermeneutics", in place of "love" and REAL "obedience"! And you can't use "grace" to nullify those other words from God about obedience and regular meditation on the Word of God! Grace comes with obligations!
Like the Bereans (Acts 17:11) we must read the "source materials" personally, prayerfully, and often, until God's words are quickened to us, and we KNOW ..... THAT WE KNOW ..... THAT WE KNOW ..... BEYOND ALL QUESTION ..... that we have found THE TRUTH, through hearing God's own words for ourselves ..... just as Jesus did. That is the only way to avoid the delusion which is the lot of those who refuse to love THE TRUTH and so be saved. (2 Thess 2:10-12)
In passing we should note carefully that "knowledge" acquired this way is not at all the same thing as that which Paul says "puffs up". (1 Cor 8:1) TRUE "knowledge" creates meekness and humility. And it is ESSENTIAL to FAITH. You can't personally believe what you don't personally know from your own personal hearing of God's word. Don't be afraid of it. "Knowledge" is NOT a "swear word" the way you hear it from some people!
Make no mistake about this. If we do this faithfully, we will acquire LEARNING that can't help but show! And when it is acquired, people will begin to hear from our lips the same challenging and life changing wisdom from above, which we have heard from Jesus ..... "First pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity." (James 1:17)
One final comment ..... In God's "Bible School" we need not be daunted by any perceived lack of superior human ability. For even the least academically gifted, the main requirement for "success" is that we search for God with all that we have been given ..... heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Be that 10 talents, five, or only one ..... from that point on, success no longer depends on mere human academic ability. It depends ever so much more on:
GOD'S SUPERIOR ABILITY TO TEACH THE MEEK!
Blessed are they ..... for they shall inherit the earth!(Matt 5:5)