Updated on Oct 25, 2008.
During my Bible Study time, I was reading in John chapter 3 when something “popped out” at me! In verse 23, the Scripture says, “Now Jesus was about thirty yeas old when he began his ministry.” Does that strike a note of interest in you? Or, maybe you have already examined this and recognized the enigma (something not easily explained or understood) that it poses?
Although I have read this many times before, the question that occurred to me – this time – was, “Why did Jesus WAIT?”
There are several similar situations that come to mind. One is the case of Lazarus who was dead and had already been in the tomb for four days (John 11:17)! Why didn’t Jesus do something a the first notice of Lazarus’ sickness? Or what about some of the healings? Like the case of the blind man in John chapter 9 where Jesus told the man to walk a half mile down a very steep slope to the Pool of Siloam in order to wash off the mud that Jesus put there. Robin Sampson in her excellent blog (Heart of Wisdom) asks the question, “why didn’t Jesus just heal him there?”
In John 2:46,47 (when Jesus was only 12 yrs old) Mary & Joseph found Jesus “in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.” (Emphasis mine) If Jesus was so smart at 12 that he “amazed” the Bible scholars of his day, why didn’t he go on the road as a child evangelist? Why did he wait another 18 years and then only have 3 or so years left for ministry?
One “answer” to Jesus’ 18 year delay in ministry is probably found in verse 52 – which I believe is one of the most profound verses in the entire Bible. The verse is its self an enigma, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” The only part of that that I can say I understand (at least partially) is that Jesus grew in stature. Although he could have been placed on this earth full-grown, he came as a little baby and underwent the struggles of physical growth – just like you and I must do.
BUT, beyond physical growth, the verse tells us that he also grew in wisdom. One reason that Jesus did not begin his ministry at the age of 12 is that he had to grow in wisdom. That is likely a problem that all of us face as well. In order to be successful, we must first acquire wisdom – and often, by the time we become “wise,” we are too old to do much about it! <grin>.
Later, Matthew recorded, (13:54) “Coming to his home town, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?'” Apparently, Jesus satisfied the requirement that he grow in wisdom (and every other requirement of the Messiah). (Check out the next post for more about the acquisition of wisdom.)