True identity

Although Jesus was born with the divine authority of God, he did not as a child have all of the capabilities he needed to minister to God’s people. As a human, Jesus had to mature spiritually and gain experience in life. It says in Luke 2:40 that his parents did everything required of them according to the law of the Lord and then, “the child grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.” In other words, Jesus was raised like any other Jewish child. He did not immediately have an understanding of how the world worked, nor did he glow, or have a halo above his head as some people may imagine him. Jesus looked and acted like a normal child. Apparently though, Jesus did have supernatural intelligence. His IQ was probably the highest of any person that has ever lived. When Jesus was twelve years old, his parents found him in the temple of God, “sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46).

Today, we might refer to Jesus as a child prodigy, a genius of the most extreme sort. It says in Luke 2:47, “And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.” The Greek word translated understanding, sunesis (soon´ – es – is) refers to “a mental putting together, i.e. intelligence or (concretely) the intellect” (4907). Sunesis is derived from a primary preposition denoting union; with or together, in the sense of an association gained through the process of learning (4862). Even his own parents, couldn’t fully comprehend the things that Jesus said. In a moment of frustration, when she found Jesus arguing with the priests in the temple, Mary said to her son, “Son why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing” (Luke 2:48). What Mary was implying was that she and Joseph didn’t have the same kind of supernatural intelligence that Jesus had. They had been looking all over for him and had no idea that he had stayed behind in Jerusalem after they had left the city to return home to Nazareth (Luke 2:43).

Jesus’ response to his mother’s frustrated comment was meant to distinguish not only his true identity, but also his primary responsibility as child of God. He said, “How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49). This brief statement revealed that at the age of twelve, Jesus no longer associated himself with his earthly parents. Jesus understood that God was his actual father, in every sense of the word. The Greek word translated “Father’s business” is pater. This word is usually used to designate the nearest ancestor or male relative in a family, but metaphorically it can refer to “the originator of a family or company of persons animated by the same spirit as himself.” Pater is also used “of God in relation to those who have been born anew” (3962). Although Jesus did not become a believer, he may have reached a point at the age of twelve where he completely transferred his trust or loyalty from Joseph to his Father in heaven. From that point forward, everything Jesus did was due to his obedience to God.