21st December

In Luke’s gospel we have one of the few insights into Jesus’ childhood.  

When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.

Luke 2:39-40

Joseph & Mary were devout in their faith even though they were poor. We read previously of how they took a pair of doves to the temple because they couldn’t afford a lamb. Their devotion would be a good example to Jesus while he was growing up.

They lived in Nazareth which didn’t have the best reputation. It used to be said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”.  Jesus proved the saying wrong because he grew up to be healthy, strong and full of wisdom.  

Luke also tells us that the grace of God was upon him. When I think about God’s grace I tend to think about His forgiveness but Jesus didn’t need forgiving. What was resting on Jesus was God’s enabling grace. 

Jesus was truly God and truly man so, just like us, he could choose whether or not to welcome God’s grace for his life. 

It was in my own childhood when I became aware of God’s enabling grace for me. During a normal school day, I felt God reaching out to me, and at going home time I ran back to ask my mom how I could become a Christian. She stopped everything she was doing and knelt with me leading me in a prayer to invite Jesus into my life and to make him my Lord and Saviour. That happened sixty years ago but it is still the defining moment of my life.

The Bible tells us that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8-9

If we try to earn our own salvation, we will wear ourselves out trying to do it. Even the faith we need to receive God’s grace is a gift from Him. The choice we have is to receive it or to harden our hearts and reject it.

Even though I’m a senior citizen, and that wonderful day that defined my future seems a long way away, I’m still growing and I still need God’s grace to enable me to fulfil His will for my life. If I try to do it by myself, I wear myself out. But with God it all becomes achievable.  

Billy Graham told us this “When granted many years of life, growing old in age is natural, but growing old with grace is a choice”.

My prayer for you today is the same that Peter used when writing to his churches. May you “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever! Amen”.
2 Peter 3:18

Written by Jeremy Parkes.